By: Marilyn L. Davis
“We as authors sign a pact with our readers; they’ll go on reading because they trust us to play fair with them and deliver what we’ve promised.” ― Pamela Glass Kelly
Deliver on the Title with Subheadings
While I’m trying to play fair and deliver, I realize I have 15 seconds to get you to read this. Talk about pressure.
In order to get you to stay longer, I have to make sure that you’re interested as you’re scanning. How can I do that? I can get your attention with subheadings.
The Four Best Reasons to Use Subheadings
- We’re up there with goldfish when it comes to attention span – about 8 seconds.
- Breaking up long text is essential for easier reading, as well as interesting those who are scanning a post to determine if it meets their needs.
- What’s the point of your post? Sure, you’ve probably defined it in the title, but are you reinforcing it throughout your post? Subheadings do just that by emphasizing your message.
- Moving readers from the first word to the last are the ultimate goal of any writer. When we give them a reason to keep reading, they will make it to the conclusion, and we can use subheadings to motivate them to reach the end of the post.
Subheadings Alert the Reader about the Content
If we are not stimulating our readers with subheadings, we will lose them. These are the alerts that let our readers know that the content that follows the subheading is about an aspect of the title, further definition of some component, or other new information that they might find helpful.
But don’t save your killer sentence and put it in the last paragraph. Make sure that you’ve added value, interest, and information in each section to get your readers to the conclusion.
Besides sub-headings, using lists to break up your content into manageable portions give readers shorter texts to digest, and it serves the same purpose as a subheading. Think of them as a kind of visual marker with the subheadings highlighting important places.
Search Engines Like Subheadings, Too
Subheadings are also what search engines use to rank content. While that statement is true, it’s also false in that we don’t truly know Google’s algorithm. What we do know is that “keyword stuffing” is frowned up and if you use the same words in all of your subheadings and use it unnecessarily in your content, you may be penalized.
However, if these subheadings contain the same word to alert your reader to a different aspect of the topic, you are probably safe in using the keyword.
Size Matters for Subheadings
If you’re using a WordPress site, you have the option of using headings 1-6 in your content. However, Heading 1’s should only be used for your title.
There are some visual considerations when using the formatted heading sizes. You can also define categories and subcategories using the formatted headings in WordPress:
If you don’t like the size difference in fonts when using Heading 2, use Heading 3.
Color is a consideration, too. I like the darkest gray, rather than black. I think it’s easier on the eye. However, these are personal preferences. Some writers want the distinction, so write in black. Remember that your subheadings will stand out either way if you do them in bold.
A Few Questions for our Readers
Two Drops of Ink is becoming the community of experts that we hoped it would be, and as such, I learn from readers, staff, and guest contributors’ posts and comments. So, I’d like to know:
- How do you use subheadings?
- Do you have a preference in style, font, or color for your subheadings?
- Do you need to update your older posts and use better subheadings?
- Are you ready to join an informative, engaged community of writers?
When you’re ready to contribute, please consider submitting.
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