Over the next several weeks, we’ll cover all of the different components of blogging, including keywords, core content, images, meta data, and more.
But in this 2-part post, we’ll explore what many believe to be the most important part of blogging – the headline. Part 1 touches on some very general guidelines. Part 2 focuses more on examples.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if the headline truly is THE most important part of the blog. It certainly is crucial however. Bad copywriting in the core content will chase people away, but a poorly written headline will fail to bring people to your solar blog in the first place.
It’s safe to say that both the headline and the body matter a great deal. The only reason we’re starting with the headline here is because the headline starts your blog post.
So what makes for a good headline?
What Is The Purpose of Your Solar Blog?
This is really just another way of saying, “who are your desired readers and why should they be reading your blog?”
You have to start with the goal in mind. Knowing who the target audience is will guide everything that follows. You’d communicate with product engineers very differently than you’d communicate with residential solar customers or PV installers.
What your readers expect of you also varies. For some, pricing is supreme. For others, features are more important. And still others place safety above everything else.
And let’s not forget where people are in the buying cycle. How To’s might appeal more to those earlier in the process, while Product Reviews probably appeal to those who are closer to buying.
Once you understand the ultimate purpose of your blog post – and what motivates your target audience – you’re almost ready to begin brainstorming solar headlines.
Solar Blog Headlines & Keywords
Next on the list are keywords.
There are two basic schools of thoughts governing keywords in headlines:
The SEO School – Include your most important keywords in the title for optimal search engine optimization.
Essentially, this school believes that every headline represents an opportunity to include critical keywords in bold at the top of every entry. This makes it easier for search engines to index and rank your blog posts, thus, driving more traffic to your property.
The Copywriting School – Forget the keywords and just focus on the message.
This camp generally believes that keywords potentially distract from the core marketing message, and thus, should remain secondary.
Both sides have a point. I generally prefer to include keywords due to the cumulative effect that blogging has on search engine rankings. You don’t necessarily have to include keywords in every single headline. But the better placed your keywords are, the higher your blog (and site) will appear over time.
But I also agree that you should never sacrifice your message strictly for the sake of SEO. If necessary, you can always include your most important keywords at the top of the core content (below the headline).
Writing Your Solar Blog Headline First or Last
Again, the copywriting community is pretty split on whether you should write your headline first or after you’ve written the body.
Brian Clark of Copyblogger makes a fairly convincing case for writing the headline first. Essentially, your headline is a promise waiting to be fulfilled. When written first, your blog title guides the rest of your copy, ensuring that you stay on message and deliver exactly whatever it is that the headline promises.
James Chartrand (also of Copyblogger) argues that the headline should come last. It is the wrapping paper and box that you buy only after you’ve selected the present first. She (yes, James is a she) doesn’t say that headlines are unimportant. But you should only begin to tackle them after you’ve hammered out your core message first.
Personally, I don’t think it makes a huge difference either way. I’ve written headlines before, headlines after, and in between. But I tend to favor writing the headline afterwards. It’s easier to capture the essence of everything I’ve just written in the core copy.
Next Time, We’ll Look at Examples
In Part 2 of Writing Solar Blog Headlines That Attract Readers, we’ll cover a few more ground rules and then dive into actual examples of headlines.