Guest post by Doug Hanvey.
Doug Hanvey studied piano and music composition at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University Bloomington and jazz piano with keyboard guru John Novello in Los Angeles. In addition to his musical training, Doug holds a master’s degree in adult education. He is the author of The Creative Keyboardist course and specializes in online piano lessons for creative adult beginners.
Music teachers are not obliged to be good writers, though it certainly comes in helpful when trying to communicate one’s services to potential students or parents. Fortunately, a few principles of clear, effective and persuasive writing can make all the difference to the success of your studio’s website.
This article will focus on how to write an effective headline for your studio website’s home page. Headlines are crucial because their major purpose is to get your website visitor’s attention. If you don’t get your visitor’s attention, you’ve already lost them.
Every headline for a web page should follow at least two (and possibly three) principles:
1. Get attention by grabbing the reader’s interest
2. Give them a reason to keep reading
If you are trying to get your website higher in the search engine rankings, your headline should also:
3. Include keywords that people use to search for music teachers in your area
Principle #1: Get Attention
The most important principle is to get a visitor’s attention. Headlines get attention by appealing to self-interest. For example:
Piano Lessons That Kids Love
All Piano Lessons Aren’t Created the Same
The first headline gets attention by promising a benefit. The second headline gets attention by stimulating the reader’s interest in your offer.
Principle #2: Give Them a Reason to Keep Reading
After you get the reader’s attention, give them a reason to keep reading. Rule of thumb: try to get them to think, “I can read the rest of this quickly and it will be worth my time.”
Ways to draw readers in include arousing curiosity, asking a question, making a provocative statement, or promising useful information. For example:
A Cutting-Edge Alternative to Traditional (and Dull) Vocal Instruction
Retired and Ready for Those Guitar Lessons You’ve Been Putting Off Your Whole Life?
The first headline offers a reason for continuing to read by making a provocative statement. The second headline does the same thing by posing a question. (It also selects the audience, which is another useful task for any headline.)
Principle #3: Include Keywords That People Use To Search For Teachers In Your Area
Note: If there are dozens or hundreds of competing websites in your area, you may be using your website as a calling card to which you send people by other means (such as a brochure or business card). In that case, focus on Principles #1 and #2 above. On the other hand, if you’re in a less competitive market and have a chance to get your site to the first page of the search results (or are determined to do so no matter what!), then you may wish to use search engine optimization (SEO) principles when writing your headline before applying Principles #1 and #2.
For better or worse, search engines like Google have imposed their own demands on headlines. If you are attempting to raise the position of your website in search engine results, you will probably want to write your home page headline for the search engines before writing it for human beings. (While these aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive in theory, they may be in practice.)
The search engines look at headlines in particular to determine how relevant and useful it is. For SEO purposes it is especially important to use keywords in your headline that people are using to find your site. If research reveals that the most popular search phrase for flute teachers in your city is “flute lessons Peoria,” then your home page’s H1 headline will optimally include these keywords in a prominent position (preferably towards the beginning). Note that in terms of HTML (the language in which websites are written), each page of your website should have one H1 headline and no more.
You should also:
- Make your H1 headline slightly different than your home page’s title tag, if only by a word or two
- Use two or three H2 headlines to further describe your offer
Many resources are available for conducting keyword research, but one of the easiest approaches is to use Google’s “autocomplete” feature. If you search “voice lessons Chicago” autocomplete suggests related popular searches with keywords like “adults,” “private” and “south side.” If one or more of these keywords is particularly relevant to what you offer, you may want to include it in your headline, or at least somewhere on your site.
Two More Headline-Writing Principles
Finally, consider two additional principles when writing headlines:
- Offer a complete message. Some people will never read past the main headline. By offering a complete message you can at least communicate the fundamentals of your offer.
- Engage readers emotionally. Emotion sells. If you can engage a reader’s emotions, your headline is more likely to get them to take action.
If you come away with just one thing from this article, I hope it’s that having a headline on your website’s home page is important. If that headline also follows some or all of the above principles, even better!