While it might not be surprising to many, the headline of a story is the most important factor when attempting to drive traffic to it from either social sites or search engines. This is according to a new study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The study analyzed the habits of 20,000 people in 12 different countries and learned a lot of important information. The following are some of the key points that are covered in the study, and how they can be used by marketers.
Headlines More Important for Search than Social
While a good headline is essential for a successful story no matter where it is published, the study found that it is significantly more important when people see it on search results compared to social media. For search results, the study showed that more than 50% of people in each country (well more than 50% in some countries) said that the headline was the most important factor when determining which stories they click on. For social, on the other hand, that number dropped to an average of 37% for most countries, with the highest being just under 50% in Ireland.
Other Factors that Encourage Clicks
The other factors that were ranked were ‘content that comes from a site I know and trust’ which was the second most popular option and ‘content that comes from a person I know and trust.’ For search, not surprisingly, content that comes from a person I know and trust only got a few percentage of the people. On social, however, it was nearly 25% in most countries. This is, of course, because people see their friends and family sharing a post so they assume it is going to be interesting or engaging.
For search, having a site that is from a trusted site that people recognize is far more important than having a site that comes from people they trust. In most cases, Google and the other search engines will rank trusted and/or recognizable sites such as well known news sites, YouTube, WikiPedia and things like that. For marketers, building a brand can help drive traffic by building trust in the brand name. Of course, that takes time.
Using Proper Headlines
While it may be obvious that using great headlines is essential to driving the most traffic you can, it isn’t always as easy as people would like. Figuring out what types of headlines work best for your specific site or product can be difficult. Some things are proven to drive traffic, but they don’t convert very well. On the other hand, some types of headlines may not get as much traffic but will convert at higher rates because of the fact that it attracts more motivated buyers.
Finding the right balance can take some experimentation and learning about your target customers. This is well worth the effort and over time will allow you to write high quality headlines for your posts, videos and other types of content. If you are interested in seeing the full study from Reuters, you can see it HERE.