How To Write SEO Headlines And Subheadings That Your Audience Can’t Resist

How To Write SEO Headlines And Subheadings That Your Audience Can’t Resist
Article by Bisera Stankovska
Last Updated: January 04, 2022

In our previous post, we've given you the complete guide to keyword research in 2021.

Assuming that you have identified the right keywords to use in your content writing, the next step is to create the perfect SEO headlines to attract your audience and the subheadings to keep them on your page longer.

In this section we will cover:

  • What header tags are and how they matter for SEO
  • How to create a compelling headline for your SEO content
  • How to use subheadings to optimize your text for readers and search engines
  • The tools to use to analyze headlines and identify the trending topics you can capitalize on in your SEO content strategy
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What Are Header Tags In SEO?

Header tags are used in HTML to mark the headings (or headlines) and subheadings in a web-based text.

These are segmented in a hierarchical order from the main heading (H1) to the lowest-level heading (H6).

Search engines scan the keywords in your header tags to better understand the content of your page and match it with the right queries.

H1 defines the main topic of your page.

H2s, or subheadings, serve a dual purpose:

  • They give Google more context on the topic your page covers
  • They segment the content, making it easier to read and motivating the reader to scroll through longer, increasing the average time-on-site

79% of your readers will only skim through your content. Therefore, breaking it up into bite-sized sections tagged with relevant headers not only helps search engines read through your content, but it helps your readers as well.

Don't Confuse Header Tags With Title Tags

It is easy to confuse title tags with headers, particularly H1.

Both H1 and title tag communicate the main topic of a page to both readers and search engines; The first communicates the topic on-page, the second in search.

Since search engines have a limit on the number of characters they can display in results, title tags provide SEO writers an opportunity to contract their H1 and reformat it for the search environment.

Each content management system has its own "box" that allows the SEO writers to insert their title tags.

The most popular of all, Wordpress, relies of Yoast plug-in and it looks like this:

Title Tag - SEO title - Yoast
Yoast refers to title tags as "SEO titles"

Writing SEO Headlines and Subheadings: How To Optimize Your Headers For Your Keywords

Since it defines the overall topic of your page, H1 should feature the primary keyword you are going after.

H2s, or subheadings, can contain a mix of primary and secondary keywords, as long as there is no "stuffing", i.e. as long as they find their place in the header naturally.

Just like the headline, you make your subheadings informative and to-the-point.

They should act as short summaries of the sections they cover, or as a promise to your reader on the type of answers they can expect to find. Treating them as such will lead you to feature primary and related keywords naturally.

One thing most SEOs tend to forget is that headlines and subheaders, i.e. header tags, do much more for your SEO that capture keywords you want to rank for.

If used properly, they can increase your readers' time on site and even click-throughs - some of the biggest hints to Google that your page contains quality content which is one of the most important ranking factors for the search engine.

So to truly optimize your headlines, forget about stuffing keywords where they don't naturally belong and focus on:

  • Using H2s for structure: H2s divide your content into sections and make it easier to read and consume, especially for skimmers. So, create as many H2s as you need to give your audience a clearer picture of what your content covers, and allow them to quickly find the specific information they search for.
  • Incorporate H3s: H3s help you flesh out the content under the H2s. Marketers mostly use them with lists and bullet points to increase the clarity of content.

How To Make Your SEO Headline Compelling

When writing your headline, or H1, always think about your audience, i.e. the people who will read your content.

Another good practice is to write a tentative headline to give your content focus, and to refine it at the end, to infuse it with flavor, i.e. to make unique and compelling for your audience.

Here are a few tips that will help you create headlines that grab the reader’s attention:

  • Get straight to the point: Keep in mind that (most) blogs are not stories or chapters in a novel. Particularly in B2B space, readers want answers quickly and delivered to them in the simplest format possible. Use your headlines as a promise to your reader: Tell them exactly what they can expect to find if they continue to read the section it covers.
  • How-to's:BuzzSumo research shows that some of the best-performing articles start with "how to". This is not surprising as users typically turn to search engines to find quick solutions.
  • Lead with numbers: Research shows that numbers are highly attractive to most users; Namely, headlines with numbers are more clear and receive 327% more clicks than question headlines.
  • Incorporate action: Spice up your headlines with a direct and mild demand. In other words, tell people what they should do to get the value of the products or services you offer.
  • Use emotion: Incorporate words that evoke emotions in your on-page SEO headlines to receive more clicks and get more shares. Phrases like amazing, fast or now impact readers and make them take action.
  • Announce exciting news: Make your headlines intriguing by incorporating a little bit of excitement. Introduce something new that will get the most out of what you offer and make them click.
  • Employ FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out): Use words like “limited offer”, “don’t miss out” or “limited-time savings” to trigger a strong emotion in your readers and get them to click your headline.

No matter which way you will create your headlines, make sure you always provide your audience with value. Otherwise, they won’t mean anything to them and will not consider clicking.

We've listed the best practices for writing a title tag.

Headline Analyzing Tools To Use In Your SEO Content Strategy

Using a set of on-page SEO tools like headline analyzers can help you generate the perfect titles for your content.

Here are the top five of them that you should consider in 2020:

Coschedule Headline Analyzer
[Source: CoSchedule]

1. CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer Improvers Your SEO Headlines

A good part of the digital marketing community is a fan of this on-page SEO tool and uses it to analyze their headlines and improve them.

To try it out, simply put your headline in the analyzer and you will instantly get the analysis of the overall structure, grammar and reliability, as well as suggestions on how to improve them.

What’s more, in addition to providing you with a headline score, CoSchedule also shows you the email subject line and Google search preview of your title.

blog about - SEO headline - tools
[Source: Blog About by Impact]

2. Blog About by Impact Is A Free Headline Analyzer

Blog About by Impact is a fun platform that helps you brainstorm topic ideas using the fill-in-the-blanks approach and allowing you to sift through the options by "hearting" those you like.

Best of all: It is totally free.

Unlike most other headline analyzers and topic generators, Blog About has a neat feature that can help you in the brainstorming process, especially when you feel stuck in the process: their doodle board. To launch it, click on the

SEO headline - tools
[Source: Answer the Public]

3. Answer The Public Helps You Create Question SEO Headlines

Answer The Public is a tool that combines suggested searches from Google and Bing.

You simply enter a keyword and you get well-organized results in several categories including what, why, where, how and more.

These are actually the questions that people search for on these two platforms from different devices.

Content Idea Generator
[Source: Portnent]

4. Portent Allows You To Generate Different Topic Ideas

Portent is another amazing title generator tool to incorporate into your SEO content strategy.

To use it, enter a subject or keyword and click submit. Then, it will provide you with a title variety option.

However, this tool displays only one option at a time. By clicking the refresh button you can get new ideas.

What’s great about this tool is that you can make your own changes to the headlines to meet your SEO content writing needs.

SEO headline tools - Sharethrough
[Source: Sharethrough]

5. Sharethrough Measures The Effectiveness Of Your Headlines

Sharethrough allows you to discover how effective the headlines you create are.

Simply put together a title and put it in this analyzer. Then, you will get a short report on its quality score.

It also shows the strengths and weaknesses and provides suggestions for improvements.

This is a great tool to use in your ecommerce SEO content strategy to make sure your titles are appealing to your readership.

Takeaways: Optimize Headlines & Subheaders For Readers First And For Search Engines Next

Headlines and subheaders are much more than vessels for keywords. They:

  • Pull your readers in, helping them decide whether to click on your post to begin with
  • Help your readers find their answers quickly
  • Make your content more skimmable and easier to consume
  • Help increase the average session duration - an important mark of quality for search engines

By overlooking these benefits quality headlines and subheaders provide, SEOs often walk the dangerous path of treating them exclusively as an opportunity for keyword stuffing. We say "dangerous" because going overboard with this technique can earn penalties on Google.

To truly optimize your headlines, focus on what your users expect to gain from your content, as well as on their reading habits. Keep in mind that a vast majority of them skim through rather than read, so give them informative and accurate subheaders to help them navigate through your text.

Secondly, follow the research-backed best practices such as leading with numbers, how-tos and active verbs.

Finally, use the available tools for topic planning, as well as to analyze your headline options.

And don't forget - you can always go for an agency providing affordable SEO services for small businesses or hire one of the full-service digital marketing agencies to help you out in this regard.

Best of luck!

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