Sub-headlines, or sub-headings, can transform a piece of content from a wall of text into a clear, easy-to-follow source of information. Look at this article as an example. You can see a heirarchy of information and hopefully you can tell at a glance what each section is about. Take away the sub-headings, and you still have the same information but without the ability to quickly find important sections.
Sub-headlines provide your readers with a quick reference tool for finding what they’re looking for and let them jump right to what’s important, no matter if your content is copy in sales booklets or a blog post. Also of merit is that sub-headings break up the “black space” on a page and give your page more white space – making it easier on the eyes. Plus, for online posts Google gives more weight to posts that include keywords in the sub-headlines.
You probably have already been taking advantage of sub-headings in your own writing, but maybe you are not sure if you are really using them to their full potential. The following are a few tips to consider when drafting content and considering how and why to implement sub-headings.
I like to treat sub-headlines like an outline. As you draft content, you may use an outline to make sure you hit the high points of the topics without missing anything important. Consider using the outline headings as your sub-headings for the article.
One key to quality headlines is that they’re short but clear. This can be a challenge. The temptation is to use an entire sentence. It’s fine to start with a sentence, but look at what words can be removed. For example, the heading for this section could have been “How to Write Quality Sub-Headlines for Your Content”. This is certainly clear, but the end result is much shorter and still communicates the key point of the section.
Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Strategic Thinking: Social Media + Social Business Strategy
SEO and Sub-Headlines
SEO refers to search engine optimization. Just as sub-headings help readers find and prioritize information, they also help search engines understand what’s important on the page.
To take advantage of sub-headings for SEO, you need to use the keywords that people would search for in popular search engine websites in your sub-headline. Use these keywords and add them into a headline that makes sense and gives the readers an idea of what the underlying topic is going to be about. It’s a simple technique that gives you another important reason to use headings. For example, notice how this article uses the keyword “sub-headlines” in each of the headings, although using the keyword in every sub-heading may not always be feasible nor necessary.
Check Your Sub-Headlines
After creating your sub-headlines and finishing up the article you were writing, you should always double check the sub-headlines to see if they make sense. Ask yourself whether or not the headline sounds engaging and would actually attract the attention of readers. If you feel the sub-headlines make sense, next see if you can incorporate specific keywords to take advantage of SEO. If a keyword cannot be incorporated into every headline, don’t worry. One or two should do the trick just fine.
Both on the web and in print, sub-headlines make text, especially sales or informational text, much easier to read. Not many people take the time to carefully read every section of text in a document. Sub-headlines ensure that they still get your message even they only skim through your headings.