A strong home page headline has the power to boost search rankings, increase shares, and make conversion rates soar. With so many benefits for your business, you might think that writing the perfect website headline is an unattainable feat.
While it does take research, time and testing, writing powerful headlines isn’t so much a science as it is a scrupulous checking of boxes.
Whether you’re a brand new business or you’re trying to pivot your services, here’s how to write an irresistible home page headline that turns visitors into customers.
Determine Your Differentiator
When crafting your website headline, it’s easy to get distracted by details like features and pricing. After all, you’ve worked hard to bring these details to life. But this is merely product information. And when you only have a few seconds to grab your visitor's’ attention, product specs just aren’t going to cut it.
So what does set you apart and above? From your 24/7 support hotline to the story behind your brand mission, there’s an infinite amount of things that make your brand experience special.
To write an effective website headline, you need to market this experience as a rare and valuable commodity. What's your business about? Why are you different? Start by making a list of differentiators that set your experience above. When you’re done, prioritize the list in order and choose the top three items – this will guide your headline topics.
Avoid Jargon Like the Plague
Innovative. Cutting edge. Game changer. Have I lost you yet?
Every industry is filled with buzzwords that are ferociously overused, yet completely devoid of meaning. Aside from the fact that they’re dull and boring, industry buzzwords only cause your business to blend into a sea of sameness.
Your headline is meant to jump off the page, grab your users’ attention and never let go. People want to be surprised; intrigued. To avoid filling your homepage with the same cringe-worthy clichés that everyone else is using, try being more descriptive. If the word "innovative" seems like the only one that fits in your headline, consider scrapping it and starting fresh.
Elicit Feeling and Emotion
You know what’s much more effective than jargon? Emotion. People love to feel, especially when they’re vetting different products and services. So instead of trying to be a cool kid with words that’ll make you sound smart, fill your headline with emotions.
New to this stuff? A great place to start is CoShedule’s chart of emotional headline power words. Think about the emotions that might compel a customer to buy your product. How do they need to feel in order to request a demo or sign up for your newsletter? Let the answers to these questions guide you toward using sensational words with enormous impact.
This is a copywriting tip that entrepreneurs hear time and time again. Still, many small businesses continue to fill their home page with broad generalizations that are irrelevant and impersonal.
Generic statements are rarely effective at getting a point across, and they only make it harder to rise above competitors. Here’s a better idea: be specific. Instead of trying to summarize the entire page, choose one bold and intriguing value proposition.
A good way to practice this is by reading your headline aloud to someone else. Does it sound like something you’d actually say when describing your product? If it’s not the one-line value proposition you’d like to hear, you probably need to get more specific.
Know Your Target and Speak to Them
One common misconception about writing headlines is that they should appeal to everyone. The more people you relate to, the more customers you’ll get, right? Not exactly. Trying to target as many people as possible often leads to generic headlines, and we’ve already discussed why those don’t work.
Instead, think about how you can attract your dream client. What are these customers’ pain points? What do they long for in their day-to-day?
Don’t just focus on what your product does or how it works – focus on why it matters. Understanding your ideal target audience helps you tug at their pain points, establish relevancy, and deliver value all at once.
Every visitor who lands on your site clicked there for a reason. Whether it was a need, a desire, or general curiosity, they inevitably have some kind of expectation for what your site will deliver.
When you meet this expectation, visitors have a pleasant, ordinary experience. But what happens when you exceed their expectations entirely? Your website experience becomes memorable. Use your headline as a way to exceed expectations by keeping it clear, concise, and part of a user-friendly structure.
If your headline inspires an action, make that action interactive, user-friendly, and fun. If your headline includes a value proposition, pair it with specific details that directly relate to your customer. Exceeding your visitors’ expectations will help them remember you – and forget your competitors.
Chances are, potential customers will be viewing you and your competitor’s websites at the same time. It’s important to put yourself in their shoes so you can understand what they’re seeing. This isn’t a matter of keeping up with the Joneses, it’s just a small check in to make sure you’re standing out from the crowd.
Gather 5-10 home page and landing page headlines from your competitors and dive into some analysis. For each one, ask yourself: what action does this headline drive the visitor to take? Are there buzzwords present? Is it a sweeping generalization or a specific value proposition? This exercise will help you determine what your competitors lack, and where you can seize opportunities.
Test, Test, Test
By now, you’ve probably heard about how certain headline formulas can boost conversion rates. There’s the question mark, which targets a customer pain point to generate intrigue and interest. There's the social proof approach, where business owners rely on the praise of others to boost their own ethos. And then there’s the rule about how many words you should use – some say you should keep it under 12, others say it should always be more than 6.
While these are all helpful headline writing strategies, you shouldn’t restrict your home page to a certain formula or rule. You’ll never know what truly works best for your business and audience until you test – and even then, test some more just to be sure.
The (Almost) Perfect Headline
Your headline will always be an important part of your website, but it won’t always look and sound the same. Your business will grow, your client-base will expand, and your product will adapt. With time, your headline may need to be tweaked or even replaced entirely.
So here’s the truth: your headline will never really be perfect. But when you use specific, value-driven words that garner emotion from your audience, it’ll be darn well close.