It’s all in the title; why you should spend more time on the headline than the text

Graham Jones
5 min readOct 8, 2018

How long do you spend writing the titles of your web content? Do you spend longer on the text than you do on the heading? Similarly, how much time do you spend on the subject line of an email?

When I ask these questions in masterclasses, I get met with the same answer: “no idea, not long”. That is, of course, the wrong answer…!

For a moment, just think of emails. You open up your email program, or you take a look at Gmail and you are faced with having to make decisions as to which emails to read. Even if you decide to look at them all, you are already influenced as to how you will react based on the “subject” line, which is all you can see in most instances. So if you see subject lines such as “Attention: FYI” or “Here’s the information you requested” or “More info…” you are hardly moved to immediate action based on some kind of real desire to open the email.

Similarly, when it comes to blog posts or other online content, the vast majority goes unread because people are not engaged with the headline at all. There is nothing to entice them to want to read more.

One recent study found that it takes, on average, more than three hours to write a single blog post. That’s a long time to write the typical blog post length of around 1,100 words. That’s about five words per minute. If you are working at that rate, you need to be sure that the investment in your time pays off. Yet the vast majority of blog posts get precious little readership. In other words, the time investment in writing web content is rarely achieving any real return. The reason? People spend more than three hours writing the text then less than a minute writing the heading.

The heading is the only thing which will entice people to read the content. Studies show that people see the text and subconsciously process it before they look at the images. Those words in the heading are fundamental and vital to people reading on. Yet, they are the item that often gets the least attention in web content.

Think like a red-top tabloid

Several years ago, I worked alongside a former senior executive from The Sun newspaper. He had been responsible for managing the…

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Graham Jones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who helps business understand online customer behaviour http://www.grahamjones.co.uk