We all know that titles are the gateway to your content. It’s the title that will grab the reader and motivate him to click on the link.
But, what about subheads? Are they really necessary?
Well, suppose you come to a site that has a long blog post on it. The sentences and paragraphs are short, but there are no differentiation markers within the text. There are no highlighted areas to quickly scan for easy reading. There is no ‘bolded’ text to let you know where there is a slight change in the topic or how the information is moving forward.
Would you be motivated to read it? If you did, do you think it would hold your attention?
Imagine viewing a painting in greys only.
The painting might be beautiful, but it probably wouldn’t initially grab your attention. It would also be a bit difficult to quickly spot different elements within the picture.
And, if you were viewing it from a distance, even a slight distance, would you be able to make it out?
Now imagine a painting with vivid colors. A red roof, a black door, a bright blue umbrella, a boldly colored green tree. Your eye would automatically be brought to the different areas. You’d quickly get the gist of what the painting is about.
The same is true of using subheads in your content.
They provide a break in ongoing text. They not only make for easier reading, they give the perception of easier reading. This is a big deal because it could mean the difference between a reader thinking the read will be easy or not.
And, whether the reader stays on your site to read your post is also an SEO metric factor called Visit Length.
Side note: Website visits, page views, and time on site are all metrics that help search engines determine your search ranking.
Subheads quickly let the reader see where important or different information is. They make the text more engaging, as well as easy to read. And, they’re essential for readers who scan text.
And, search engines look at subheads for more information about the content.
So, yes, subheads are needed in your articles.
But, does the number of subheads in your content matter?
Yes to this question also.
It does matter how many subheads you use. According to pro-copywriter Will Newman, at AWAI, “There’s no hard and fast rule for how often you should include a subhead. I figure three subheads for every two printed pages of copy is a good minimum.” (1)
Since most of my writing is for online, I prefer and try to use two subheads for each page of copy. Readers online are always in a rush. They quickly scan a piece to see if it’s worth taking the time to actually read the article.
I’m a scan reader. There’s just too much information available to take the time to read everything. So, if I find a title that ‘grabs’ me, I click on the link and quickly scan the piece to see if it’s worth reading the entire article.
Once the title grabs me, it’s the subheads that allow me to make the decision to read on.
The subheads lead the reader down the path. They offer bits of information that tells him what the next paragraph/s will be about.
Subheads should also help move the reader to action.
Along with adding visual ease of reading to your content, subheads should be used to lead the reader to a desired action.
One way Will Newman checks to see if his subheads are pulling the prospect toward action is to create a separate Word doc with just the subheads. While they may not make sense like the actual content, they should be creating a path toward a desirable action.
I’m a content writer, but I don’t always focus on this strategy, although I probably should. I do though make sure my offer, even if it’s simply to sign up for my email list, is tied into the content.
There you have it.
Subheads in your blog posts are definitely needed. They make for easy reading and just as important they convey the perception of easy reading. They should also help lead the reader toward a desirable action. If you have a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of your post, be sure it’s in line with the content.
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