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The #1 Traffic Builder – Hint: It’s Probably Not What You Think

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Posted by: Jahnelle Pittman-Seaman

Traffic JamHere at Level343, we often talk about SEO; it’s what we do, after all. However, we often skip over things in an attempt to give you information on gaining traffic in a concise, clear manner. Today, we’re going to talk about the largest reason why businesses hire SEO providers.

So – why do businesses hire SEO providers? That answer, at least, should be fairly easy. You hire us for your SEO efforts to get traffic – and hasn’t traffic become the magic keyword? SEOs talk about it in blogs and articles; webmasters groan or grin about their traffic numbers. In fact, traffic has become such a catch phrase in the Internet world that we should probably start putting more emphasis on the word when we use it.

Traffic, with a capital T (flashing lights, glittering signs, fanfare).

– And what’s the biggest question for webmasters when it comes to Traffic? How do I get more of it?

Now, we push content, and we aren’t the only one. Who hasn’t heard “Content is King”? However, the truth of the matter, when you break it all down, is that it isn’t the content that draws website traffic.

The #1 traffic builder is HEADLINES.

Think about it:

  • When you’re looking through your email, what is it that makes you open something? The subject line – or headline.
  • When you’re reading the news, what draws your attention to a particular piece? The headline.
  • When you’re looking for articles or through a blog’s archives, what makes you click through? Everybody now, let’s say it together – the headline!

A single web page should give you at least four headline opportunities to grab a visitor’s interest.

  1. The meta title draws them into your website – How many times have you searched for something and seen “Home” in the search results – or even just the company name? What a wasted opportunity! Just think – the title of your page is the first introduction a visitor will have for your website. Do you really want the first thing they see to be “Home”?
  2. The page title draws them into your content – This is your real headline and, again (and sadly), most people leave that “Home” tag on there. If you’ve set your navigation display up right – such as having the current page lit up on the menu – people already know what page they’re on. The page title is an excellent opportunity to draw them into the content.
  3. The content titles draw them into the important points – For instance, your opening paragraph might be a “welcome to our website” type thing. If it is, good for you – but if that’s ALL it is, your content needs tweaking. Even a welcome should tie into your services, and once it does, talk about your services. When you talk about your services, place your content title.
  4. The call to action draws them to act: order, submit their email address, sign up for a newsletter. Because your website is there for a purpose, you should take your call to action headline into as much consideration as you would your meta title.

Hint: No headline is any more important, or less important, than another.

To help you visualize, below is a simplified breakdown of any webpage, article, blog, or any other piece of writing:

Writing Effective Headlines

Now that we’ve placed so much importance on headlines, it would be wrong of us to leave you dangling on the “how”. Instead, we’re leaving you with a wonderful resource (amazingly enough, it’s not us!): Robert Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook (yes, this is an Amazon affiliate link, but we actually own – and have read, reread and reread again – the book 🙂 ).

His website, Bly.com, is a fascinating adventure into writing copy that sells, and the book is a treasure trove for old veterans, new writers and webmasters that want to write their own content.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with the 4U’s formula, developed by Bly’s colleague, Michael Masterson.

Strong headlines contain these four components:

  1. Urgent – a reason to act now instead of later
  2. Unique – either saying something new, or saying something old in a new, fresh way
  3. Ultra-specific – sharing exactly what they’ll find when they read
  4. Useful – offering a benefit

With any headline you try to write, grade yourself on a scale of 1 – 4 (with 4 being the highest rating), on all four U’s. If it doesn’t rate a 3 or 4 on at least three of the U’s, rewrite until it does.

We’re always interested on how our readers are doing, so let us know how this works for you!

Comments (15)

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    James Reply

    Case in point with your headline 🙂 it met the 4 U’s. Thanks for the resources links. Also – this is the same advice for adwords campaigns, coupons and promotions. The largest determinant of CTR is obviously your headline.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      If I could hire an excellent headline writer I would…. They are not easy to come by. Forget about your articles going viral 🙂 PPC/adwords is a beast I wouldn’t even approach even though I know results are instant. Thanks James I appreciate your insight.

      February 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm
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    Azterik Media Reply

    This is excellent information. I have always focused on the “content is king” method but now that you point it out you are absolutely right. I could write the most perfect piece in the world but if the headline isn’t an attention grabber all that effort would be for nothing. Thanks for the heads up!

    February 23, 2010 at 11:19 am
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      Gabriella Reply

      Hello, Cheryl, thanks for dropping by. It’s pretty crazy when you think about the effort and time it takes to write a beautiful, well-punctuated, grammatically correct article, using primary and secondary, applying hard date after hours of analysis – only to find that no one came to your masterpiece because your title sucks. It’s bad enough that you have to spend hours understanding the market you’re writing for: how they search, search engines used, is it a landing page or a home page, etc., etc. Since this is my fourth cup of coffee, I won’t get into one of my rants describing all the preparation it takes to write one word but suffice it to say, I think we both get it! Love your site, btw – very nice!

      February 23, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    Work at Home Dad Reply

    I agree with you. Creating an attractive Headline is very important. I learn a lot from your post and thank you very much for sharing it.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm
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    acompanhantes Reply

    I really enjoyed your article, I tweet!

    February 24, 2010 at 11:08 am
  • Avatar
    consumer credit counseling service Reply

    It’s pretty crazy when you think about the effort and time it takes to write a beautiful, well-punctuated, grammatically correct article, using primary and secondary, applying hard date after hours of analysis

    February 26, 2010 at 7:15 am
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    Referral Guide Reply

    Thanks for the tips. I currently have a layout for a blogspot page which, I’m pretty sure, doesn’t have any meta tags at all. I’m not sure where to put them in as I don’t want to disrupt the current layout.

    Any advice?

    February 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      Hello Matty thanks for dropping by, from what I know about blogspot and looking at your page it seems they already add the name of the page into the title, this will give you the same effect as if it has meta tags. I hope that helps.

      February 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm
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    Des Moines movers Reply

    You’re definitely right about headlines being important for driving traffic. But the other part of the puzzle is actually getting your headlines to appear in front of your potential customers/visitors. Your headlines could be perfect, but if your site isn’t ranking in search engines or if you’re not using other advertising methods, no one will see your perfect headlines. -Josh

    March 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm
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      Gabriella Reply

      Josh Hallelujah, will you marry me? 😉

      March 23, 2010 at 4:26 pm
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    Des Moines movers Reply

    Lol =]

    March 30, 2010 at 10:11 am
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    Janet Reply

    A good post,i have made a note of your four U’s i will try them out

    March 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm
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    Sammy Reply

    Couldn’t agree more. As you can probably tell by the name, our company wanted to increase traffic…from traffic; a quick accident or two following a title change and we were in business.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm
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    Tim Ryan Reply

    Completely true, every SEO topic discuss about the word ‘traffic’ and its because we get our sites and blogs monetized and works to have a steady flow of income through the traffics. The reasons you’ve pointed out on traffic are absolutely relevant and true.

    December 9, 2011 at 9:45 am

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The #1 Traffic Builder – Hint: It’s Probably Not What You Think