You are here: Blog > CRO: The Power of Headlines

One of the concerns that accompany conversion rate optimisation is that site owners and designers will become obsessed with small details, failing to recognise major changes that need to be made. For instance, if your navigation is so poor that people give up because they cannot find the information they need, worrying about the color of your CTA button is like worrying about the color of your lifeboat as the ship is sinking. You have bigger things to worry about! That being said, if you have moved beyond the basics of your site layout, then you can begin to delve into the nuances of CRO. One such nuance – though a very important one – is your headlines.

What is the first element that visitors’ eyes hit on when they visit your site? Many of us would assume the answer would be images, but a study conducted by the Poynter Institute, Estlow Center for Journalism & New Media, and Eyetools found that it was dominant headlines. These draw the eye more effectively than even images (but don’t skip those photos and graphics!). Here are some headline tips to increase conversion rates:

  • If it fits naturally into the layout of your page, put your dominant headlines in the top left corner. Eye tracking tests show that this is most often where visitors’ eyes are drawn. Second choice placement would at the top right.
  • If you have a lot of important text information, use headlines that are smaller – but not small enough that they are not noticeable or legible. This encourages people to read and focus more on the words. If readers can scan the information, or do not need to read the entire text, larger headlines are linked to a scanning approach to reading.
  • If you make the blurb the same size and color as the headline, it encourages visitors to read both. If the headline is larger or in bold, readers tend to skip the blurb.
  • Visual breaks, such as an underlined headline, often keep people from reading the information below the break.
  • If blurbs are important to your content, make sure the first words are important and engaging. This encourages people to read on as eye tests show that people typically only look at the top 1/3 of the blurbs.
  • The first few words of a headline should also be attention-grabbing.
  • Great headlines can keep people scrolling down beyond the initial home page.

There are a number of other findings uncovered by the study, which you can find here. The takeaway is not that you should immediately redo each headline you have, but that you can create a flow of information based on how these headlines are placed and how they appear on the screen. Do some testing to see if any “improvements” you make actually help your CRO efforts.

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