If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?
You’ve heard that question. And it rings true for your healthcare organization’s web content.
If no one reads your stellar content, does it even matter?
There are plenty of ways to get your healthcare organization’s content out there. Sharing on social media, having your physicians provide patients with links, emailing it to your members — the possibilities are endless.
Getting it read, on the other hand, is a different story. One of the main reasons why people don’t read articles is headlines.
Up to 80% of people read headlines they come across, but only 20% actually read the whole post.
Headlines are clearly important, so what’s the magic formula?
Well, there isn’t one. But there are proven strategies to make your headlines go from snooze fest-inducing to attention-grabbing.
1. Headlines that are completely made up fool US adults 75% of the time.
Most people believe the titles they read — even if they are fake. That means that your headlines must accurately represent both the article and your hospital’s values.
Bad example: This Post Is Awful
Good example: This Post Is Awesome
2. “Will make you” is the #1 headline phrase that will make your story go viral.
Show your audience the future and let them know exactly what they’re getting.
Bad example: How to Safely Lose Weight After Pregnancy
Good example: These Recipes Will Make You Lose Pregnancy Weight — Safely
3. Using the title to tell the audience what they will get can reel in readers.
This is great when your audience is more interested in learning about the benefits they’re going to receive — not how they will get those benefits.
Bad example: A Look at Our New Cafeteria
Good example: What You Can Buy at Our New Cafeteria
4. The average click-through rate for titles with negative superlatives outperform those with positive ones by 63%.
And titles with positive superlatives perform 29% worse than titles that don’t have any superlatives at all.
“Never” or “worst” seem more authentic to readers than “always” or “best.” Readers have started to think of positive superlatives as cheap marketing ploys, and either ignore or don’t believe them.
Bad example: The Best Ways to Treat Acne
Good example: The Worst Things You Can Do if You Have Acne
5. Just adding a colon or hyphen can increase your click-through rate by 9%.
A little mark can go a long way.
Bad example: Inside the Neurology Unit at [name] Hospital
Good example: Neurology Unit at [name] Hospital: An Inside Look
6. List features with odd numbers perform better.
People love odd numbers. Apparently, readers find odd numbers more authentic — as if the content is there because it’s actually important, not added in for fluff.
As for the number 7? Lucky number 7. And in a title, use 7. Not seven. Use the number 7 and click-through rates increase by 20%.
Bad example: 10 Exercises You Can Do at Home
Good example: 7 Exercises You Can Literally Do in Your PJs
7. Google usually displays the first 50 to 60 characters of your title.
Keep it under 60 and Google will display your titles correctly about 95% of the time — go over 60 and your titles might get truncated.
Rules are made to be broken.
As a healthcare organization, your goal shouldn’t always be to get as many clicks as possible. It should be on hooking in the right type of person and getting them to follow your call to action. It’s better to get 50 clicks and 10 patients making appointments, vs. 200 clicks and only three patients making appointments.
This means that while it’s obviously a good idea to follow expert recommendations, you should never force content to fit into “best practices.” Make your content — including titles — work for you.
For example, the word “need” in titles has been shown to decrease clicks. However, when the target audience does read the article, the word “need” actually brings conversion rates up.
You know your audience best. If you can balance industry best practices with your audience’s needs, you just might be able to create that magic formula.