What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. When Juliet uttered these words to her star-crossed lover Romeo, she’s arguing that it really doesn’t matter that his name is Montague, she’d still be in love with him anyway.

Maybe the name of some things really don’t matter, but when it comes to what you name your blog posts, it does.

The name of your content, its headline, is one of the most important elements of your content. In fact, I would argue that it is the most important part of your content.

Now, at this point you may be thinking that I may be off my rocker.

Did a former reporter just say the headline is more important than the flesh of the content?

Yep, you heard me right, and here’s why: yes, it’s important that your content is amazing, but no one is going to read it if they headline falls flat. The majority of people use headlines to decide whether or not to read your content.

Oftentimes, content marketers may find themselves throwing together the headline after writing their content, quickly and under pressure to meet a deadline.

Here at Scribewise, we tend to start with the headline. When we’re building out the editorial calendars both for our blog and for our client’s content, we have a list of topics to work with. We don’t just throw those topics into the schedule – we actually write the headline and put it in the calendar for safe keeping. We don’t always end up using that exact headline, we’ll tweak it to make sure it’s just right, but it gives us a launch pad for the beginning of the writing process.

And we’re not alone with this idea – Upworthy writes at least 25 headlines for each post, even testing them and having curators pick out the very best ones that will lead to the post going viral. And, you know what? This has been an important ingredient in their success. 

Here are even more reasons you shouldn’t treat your headlines like an afterthought:

With the constant updating of newsfeeds and hundreds of tweets getting sent out every second, your headline has a tough job to do. First, it has mere seconds to grab a reader’s attention. As they’re scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, will your headline catch their eye? And if it does, will it cause them to read your content, like it, share it, retweet it? That’s a heavy burden your headline has to bear.

Along the same lines, the headline of your content often ends up being the subject line in an email. And we already know how important that subject line is – it needs to be flashy enough to encourage recipients first to open the email and then to click through to your website, blog, etc.

That headline is the key to bringing new readers on board. The words you include in your headline can make your content pop up in search results. But your headline shouldn’t be solely focused on SEO. Sure, that will make your content show up in results, but it may not necessary lead to a click. An interesting, informative, eye-catching headline will cause someone to click on the link.

That’s not to say you should ignore the importance of including keywords in your headline. You still want your content to show up in the results, but if the headline is clunky and reads awkwardly because you stuffed it full of keywords, it may not appeal to readers.

How do you know if your headlines are working? This may be the easiest part of the whole headline process – simply look at content analytics. The articles with more traffic, lower bounce rates, additional social shares that are causing readers to spend more time on your site and post comments more than likely have a great headline.

Here are some quick and dirty tips for writing that mind-blowing headline:

Avoid click-bait. This means, especially when it comes to social media, don’t use a headline that encourages readers to click to see more without telling them really anything about what they will see. A Facebook survey found that 80 percent of the time, people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the whole article before they clicked on the link.

Think about the headline first and then write. Brainstorming your headline will help you summarize the main points you’ll be making within the body of the content. After you write the content, revisit your headline and ask yourself: Does it reflect my message? Does it deliver that message in a fresh way?

Solicit some feedback. Share the headline with your colleagues for their opinion. They may have suggestions for something better.

Look at your analytics again. What posts performed the best? Try to recreate or emulate the headline you gave those posts – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, amiright?