Headlines: Blah or Bling?

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One of the top elements to test on a landing page for your pay-per-click marketing is the headline. The headline serves as the primary attention grabber and relevancy builder on the landing page. It instantly connects the visitor from the keyword searched and corresponding ad they clicked on with the landing page offer.

Coming from a marketing background and working with many incredible copywriters, I naturally started using headlines modeled after direct mail campaigns on new landing pages like…

Fast, Affordable and Iron-clad Living Wills in Minutes – without an expensive Attorney.

For the keyword, “living wills” this was a relevant headline with a strong benefit. It had some “bling” (or pizazz” to it..)

However, while split-testing additional headlines including just re-stating the exact keyword passed by the search engine after a click-through, a funny thing happened. The keyword as the headline out-pulled the sales copy headline by almost three times!

Even after trying other variations of the sales copy headline, the plain, old keyword as a headline continued to outperform.

Although the headline is only one element among many influencing conversion, there is something about simply just re-stating the keyword as the headline that attracts visitors to engage more deeply with a landing page. As with progress indicators or breadcrumbs on a website, the headline reinforces to visitors that they are in the right place. And as Steve Krug evangelized in the title of his book, “Don’t Make Me Think” – re-stating the keyword as the headline easily supports the searcher’s keyword intent. Now it is up to your copy, images and offer to close the sale.

Next time you are testing different headlines for your landing pages, ask a friendly PHP programmer to help design the page to grab the search keyword and automatically plug it into the headline (assuming this is applicable to your type of landing page and offer.) See what happens.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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