14 Guidelines for Creating Great Headlines and Web Copy

A lot is written about writing for the web. Which is why I was so drawn to this article by the B2B Inbound blog on How to Create Effective Headlines and Web Copy. The collection of guidelines they pull together are easy to scan and take on-board, and are very sharable with coworkers and clients alike.

Here is a summary of the guidelines — click through to read the details for each:

  1. Cut! Cut! Cut!
  2. Make the copy scan-able
  3. Write how you'd talk on the phone
  4. Layer your information in a "bite, snack, meal" format
  5. Communicate one central theme or idea — centered around one primary keyword — per page
  6. Create content for your customers, not Google
  7. Capture visitors with a clear headline
  8. Use informative headings
  9. Appeal to all 4 buying modalities
  10. Hear the conversation as you write
  11. Focus on action — verbs, not nouns
  12. Use your site visitors' words
  13. Help your site visitors 'grab and go'
  14. Read your copy out loud

If I was to recommend just one of these guidelines to follow religiously, it would be #14 — read what you write out loud. It's a pain, and you may feel silly, but it is invaluable for quickly identifying bad content — which may be difficult to read, runs on too long, or just plain doesn't make sense.

Reading content out loud is also very helpful if you're editing content written by someone else. If you disagree on how to write a particular sentence or paragraph, reading it out loud will usually identify the better option.

Posted on: September 29, 2012 | 2 Comments

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2 Comments Posted

Nice guidelines. I always like to leave the content with a short conclusion to summarise the article. Also a nice call to action helps too.

Great guidelines! I find the first and the last to be the most important. There is always copy you can cut out to make things clearer and reading it out loud before publishing catches any little mistakes you might have missed.

Working in SEO, Your no#5 suggestion rings true "Communicate one central theme or idea — centered around one primary keyword — per page"

Be careful not to over-optimised or keyword stuff when your concentrating on 1 keyword per page.

In addition to these, I try to forecast how it will impact:
- SEO
- Design
- Usability
- Marketing
- Messaging
- Accessibility

I will also make sure that the heading tag used is semantic. In other words, if a heading 2 is most appropriate, I will choose an h2 tag. This has impact on SEO and as well appropriately structures the page for better readability by screen readers.

Thanks Smiley Cat,
Good guidelines to follow. #14 and #6 are the 2 points I find most important.

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