Should You Trust Free Headline Analyzers?
by Al Gomez
To be honest: we’re putting our faith in this really cool free headline analyzer we just found this week from CoSchedule. It’s quick, comprehensive, and fun to use. In fact, the headline we used today was picked over five others thanks to this nifty tool (we tried several before, but they were more ‘funny’ than ‘cool’). As much as we love it though, we need to see how effective it would be for the long haul.
Although CoSchedule is mainly an Editorial Calendar for WordPress, their Headline Analyzer has been mentioned in several popular blogs thanks to its attractive features. Simply type in your headline, wait for a few seconds, and it will show you in-depth results based on your choice of words. First, it will how the Headline Score (we found that scores 70 and above is a good omen), followed by a word balance analysis. Basically, you want more emotional and power words to grab readers’ attentions.
The Headline Analyzer will then show your headline Type (Generic, Question, How To, List, etc.); followed by length analysis. Why does this matter? Longer headlines tend to get cut in search engine results (SERP) and email subject lines; so there’s a chance that people won’t click on something they can’t read all the way through. So balance is key here. Lastly, CoSchedule will show keywords along with possible user sentiment towards your headline. Their Headline Analyzer also displays tips, in case you need more reading material for picking the right blog post titles.
We already know that headlines are VITAL to getting your audiences’ attention. Even if only 2 out of 10 people will read a blog post, 8 will read the headline. And if they don’t like it, no one will bother with the rest of your article – no matter how golden it is. Surprisingly, many content creators still underestimate the power of a good headline. So we gathered our favorite tools to check if we put our faith in the right hands.
How Precise Is a Free Headline Analyzer in Evaluating a Good Headline?
In order to help us determine how accurate free headline analyzers are (in particular, that of CoSchedule), we pulled up two other online tools to help us: Ahrefs Content Explorer and BuzzSumo. These will gather the best content from the Web, so we can evaluate their headlines. Using the keyword ‘content marketing’ and last month’s most popular content, we picked five random headlines (within the top 10), then put them in the Headline Analyzer for review.
**NOTE: Headlines were picked based on context. Articles about gadget reviews and/or those containing infographics were not included.
Surprisingly, the highest score we got was a 71. That’s not so bad – except the title we’re using on this post scored an awesome 74. The lowest number was a 44. However, it’s hard to believe that it would get that rating, considering that the post garnered 447 ReTweets, and was shared on Facebook 218 times. We admit that those that scored between 60 and 65 were somewhat generic; but we believe their writers’ reputations was a contributing factor to their number of social signals.
We went further and tested headlines from one of the Web’s greatest content sources these days: BuzzFeed. With over 40 million people viewing its hits every day, would anyone argue that headlines are doing a great job on this site? Again, we picked five random titles from Trending topics and let our Headline Analyzer review them.
We were not shocked to see that only one received a low score (64), while the rest of the headlines were in the green. After all, these are highly trending AND interesting topics that a lot of people can relate to. But why did our previous test returned unsatisfactory results? Was BuzzFeed doing something BETTER? Or was our Headline Analyzer having a technical issue?
Elements of The ‘Perfect Headline’
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer deals mainly with a headline’s three core aspects: type, choice or words, and length. Combined, these elements make or break a headline that can capture a user’s attention.
- Type of Headline. There all kinds of headlines, but from our short study, the best ones to use are: Lists (‘29 Dad Jokes’ from BuzzFeed), How To’s (‘How To Craft Headlines’ from SocialMediaExminer.com), and Questions (‘How Does Your Content Marketing Measure Up’ from Entrepreneur.com).
- Choice of Words. Certain words encourage people to take action – others, not so much. It is said that the best copywriters in the business take DAYS to craft a one-liner. That makes sense; considering that each word should count. Based from our results, users love verbs and adjectives in their headlines.
- Length. Nothing kills interest faster than length. Make your headline long enough to be precise, yet short enough to look good on search results. Based on our test, the best headlines are between 35 to 60 characters (spaces included).
Our Headline Analyzer was able to give earlier results based on a balance between these factors. However, these are NOT the only things that determine a great headline. Other things to consider are target audience, end goal, and marketing strategy. Sometimes, even the best headlines don’t work. It’s not because your online tool was a bust – it’s usually because headlines are just the beginning.
What Is BuzzFeed Doing Right?
Remember that there is NO single trick to perfecting headlines. If there’s one thing that BuzzFeed is doing right, it’s that they know how to listen to what the market wants – and deliver that. Headlines are much more than catchy titles. Observe your competitors’ content and you can gain an insight into the kind of strategy they are using. Free Headline Analyzers are awesome: they could help us break down our titles and improve them for better blog traffic.
So how can you create a kickass headline, yourself?
[Added August 2017]
Writing a headline is a fundamental step towards an effective content delivery. As it is the first thing that your audiences notice in your content you need to make it accurate, catchy and interesting.
Take a look at the ways on how you can create great headlines.
Optimize For Search And Social
Second to crafting headlines to attract audience readership, you also have to optimize for search and social. So how can you do it without compromising the clarity?
It all starts with a chosen focus keyword. This is what makes your headline search-friendly. Before crafting your title, you need to make sure that you have clearly determined your focus keyword.
Criteria in choosing your keyword:
- Choose what your audience is looking for.
- Choose a keyword with high search volume.
Once you have your keyword ready, place it clearly in your headline, preferably in the beginning.
On the other hand, to optimize your headline socially, imagine how it will look like when shared. You need to follow the ideal length so social media sites, especially Twitter, won’t cut it off.
For Twitter, medium length tweets (max 100 chars) get higher engagement. Also, limit your Facebook post at 40 characters and Google+ at 60 characters.
Note: Try not to overdo this step. Though it would be great if you can do this, don’t compromising the quality and functionality of your headlines for these criteria.
Don’t Forget To Add A Little Spice
Just because you want your headline to be informative doesn’t mean you can’t add a little bit of fun. Your creativity in choosing the words gives more value to your headline.
It all lies on how well you understand your buyer persona. Figure out what kind of languages resonates with them. Craft your headline in a way that it invokes emotions and entice the senses. Here are some tips:
- Use strong, powerful persuasive words.
- Add “psychological” words.
- Have some fun testing them out.
Stay Accurate, Relevant and HUMAN!
The accuracy and relevance of your headline to your content are critical factors that make up an effective content. The last thing you need are readers leaving your page just because your content is not exactly what your headline describes.
So don’t overdo your headline. Avoid creating a headline can which can cause over expectation to your readers. While your headline must persuade your audience, you need to ensure that your content can fulfill the expectations which your title have set. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing your audience trusts.
And lastly, make it human. Above anything else, create a headline that is understandable and valuable for your audience. A great content starts with a headline that communicates with the readers. From your headline, you have to present a pain point and a solution that your audience can relate to.
We should remember that the final decision still rests with us. If your headline feels wrong, change it – no matter what your online tool says. Don’t forget: it only takes less than 3 seconds to make a good first impression. So a strong headline could mean the difference between getting online traffic, or losing it.
How about you, are you currently using free headline analyzers? Tell us about your experience!
Note: This content was originally published in April 2015 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
March 12, 2018