The Objective of your Headline and First Paragraph

Writing for the Web

The objective of your headline is to make the reader move to your first paragraph and continue reading; you promised something in the headline, and you must start to deliver, or lose your reader. This means your first paragraph must contain information that leaves the reader in no doubt that the Website can deliver the goods and fulfill the promise.

Without an effective headline, you might as well shut her down and go home. This page is dedicated to helping you determine the most successful headline for marketing your website and to show examples of headlines that work! The customer will either see your headline and keep reading or see your headline and click out of your site - never to return. Which would you rather have happened?

Don't use fancy artwork or fancy writing in the headline - just plain, bold, and clear text. Also, do not use all caps when writing your headline. That's called shouting on the Internet.

Because the headline is the key factor in determining whether or not a customer stays in your web site, it should create an irresistible benefit and/or a sense or urgency.

Headline placement
Place your headline before any other reading material, but below a picture or banner. Your customer will read what they notice first. If there is no picture or banner at the top of your homepage, place your headline at the very top of the page and make it very noticeable. Placing it in larger print and bold letters should do the trick. You also want it to be easy to read.

First paragraph
The objective of the first paragraph is to make the visitor read the second paragraph, and so on until they reach the point where you ask them to act; this means to buy your product, register for a newsletter, or supply their contact details in return for the download of a useful product, eBook, or software.

The first few sentences you write, are the most important. Your first sentence should not only tell your readers what your landing page is going to be about, but will also tell search engines, how to index your particular page. Search engines are looking for keyword density.

Make it dramatic, interesting and directed to the right target audience. You want people to be interested in what you have to say and letting them know in the first paragraph.

Let the visitors know what to look forward to. Let them know what they will get out of the page they are on.

Physics of the first paragraph
Keep your paragraph short and to the point.

Keep your sentences short so your visitors can understand them.

Keep your words short - simple and easy to understand.

Use “you” to involve the reader. Try to avoid "we" or "I"..

Make your message come from one person, on a very personal basis, with the intent of building a one-on-one readership throughout the piece.

Don't confuse your visitors
Give the visitor the information s/he came to your landing page to get. Do not confuse your visitors. Be straightforward, make it look like it is coming from an expert which by the way you are.

Use the first paragraph as your website Meta description
If you can get just this one thing right, your page rates will go through the roof. Unfortunately, almost nobody does it correctly. That includes me too.

The entire issue comes down to meta tagging. When you create a page on your website for an article, you have to enter the meta title and meta description. Your headline is the meta title and your first paragraph should be the meta description. Your first paragraph should satisfy the need to fit the page meta description.
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