are the most crucial and overlooked part of writing an article. It's
the first impression you make on any prospective readers. Without a
compelling headline that turns a browser into a potential readers, your
killer content can go to waste.
Even if you have a large chunk of subscribers. Most people will see your headline along with some other headlines in their feed reader, and it's obvious that they can't read all post in their feed reader, they only pick the one's that have a compelling headline and draw their curiosity to read the full story.
Imagine a newspaper or magazine with no headlines. Imagine a print ad with no headlines. Imagine a long-form sales page with no headlines.
A waste i guess?
People today are hunting for information. With so many blogs to read, so many stuffs to Like on Facebook, so many tweets to favorite or re-tweet, so many videos to watch. But how do you entice readers to consider your content first?
You need to focus on your ability to write compelling headline!
You don't have to be a pro-writer, it just about the way you can create curiosity and study what work best.
If you aren't confident in your ability to write outstanding headlines, you're not alone. Most bloggers and writers find it so challenging to actually craft captivating headlines.
I sometimes deliberate over titles for 30-60 minutes before i finally settle for one that works. And I often go back and change them if their performance are poor. This is what it takes to write a good headline.
If you are stuck and couldn't write a compelling headline for your blog, try these simple tricks that works for me:
1. Count The Benefits
Write about 50 ways to do something your audience might find interesting and helpful, and see a great upsurge in your site statistics.
If you are writing a post that shows 20 tips to blog as a pro, why don’t you show in the title that you are providing 20 tips?
- 10 tips to blog like a pro
- 10 tips to write great content that convert
- 15 ways to suck your blog
- 9 smart ways to get free quality blog traffic
There aren’t really any rules regarding what numbers work best, but large number like 42 or 50 can catch people’s attention, because it will show readers that you have a lot to say on the topic.
2. The Why, What, When, and How Headline
These are trigger words and they are the widely used format in writing a captivating headline. They are very effective in creating curiosity that get clicked.
The headline says why something is important or relevant or secret or effective, but to find out exactly why that is, you have to read the article.
- Why people struggle to get what they want?
- Why you need to write great headline?
- Why You Will Fail at Blogging
- What you need to succeed at blogging?
- When should you monetize your blog?
- How to write compelling headline that people can't resist
- How to reduce your blog bounce rate fast
3. Use Adjectives
When it comes to writing headlines. Adjective plays a vital role. Proper use of adjectives in headline are attention-grabbing and easily get clicked.
Some interesting adjectives that work like charm include:
You have to be very careful when using adjective in headline. Always avoid subjective claim like "The leading ......" or "The only one ......" or "The number one ......" etc. Most people use it, but they are futile; like claiming your post or blog is the best in the world. Sounds weird, right?
These sorts of claim are tempting really, but it will demote your credibility if the post doesn't truly provide what the headline advertise.
4. Urgent Headline
An urgent headline calls for immediate attention. Great headlines that demand attention use some type of time aspect to drive interest.
"Write Better Headlines" is not nearly as compelling as "Write Better Headlines Today!". Just one word can trigger a sense of urgency and make all the difference.
Give your headline a sense of urgency by using a time element. Use a specific unit of time in your headline, such as:
- Day, Month, year
People are generally prone to take action if they know they're running against time. But make sure you withdraw your offer at the stated time. If you're going to extend the deadline, you should provide a better reason because your credibility is at stake.
- 24 hours left to download my free report
- If you don’t fix x NOW, then y will happen.
5. Be Specific
I noticed that most of the highest converting headlines on the web are more specific. Qualifying your headline with specific phrase tends to be targeted and catchy.
Let's say you are above 40years of age and you read this two headline:
"Health tips for people above 40years"
Which one will you read first? The later, right?
Instead of writing "100+ ways to do something," write something like "108 ways to do something." "Get a T-shirt for less than $20" is not as catchy as "Get a T-shirt for only $14." Let's people easily know what is in your post for them. Your headline must relate to a specific offer or to a specific result or benefit. The headline can't be vague or ambiguous.
6. Keep it Short and Clear
What is the ideal length for headlines?
Eight words or less is a good rule of thumb. Shorter headlines are easy to share especially on Twitter where your tweet are limited to only 140 characters.
It is difficult to stick to this rule, but nonetheless, it’s a good one. Fewer words make greater impact.
There’s no reason why you should use long tail keyword phrase for SEO sake, short keyword phrase if appropriate. Remember the article needs to be read by people, and not just search bots. So if your headline looks too forced it’s going to be a big turn-off for your audience.
Consider the following two examples:
10 things that will make people not to read your blog again
10 Killer ways to suck your blog
Notice any difference? That's the effectiveness of brevity!
There are times where long words works well. But trying to stick up with shorter words have always be the best and effective ways to write compelling headlines.
7. Controversy Headline
Taking a stand on a big issue or vocalizing your opinion can be very effective at attracting readers and increasing click-through rates. If you can write a headline that go against a bad product or popular practice, write it. If you find out a way of doing things that people will find it hard to believe, get your computer ready!
Controversy is one of those things that tends to pique people’s interest. But you have to back these types of titles up with posts that reflect the title and with good reasons.
Avoid race, religion, and extremely sensitive topics so you don’t earn a bad rep or offend a lot of people, because when you create controversy, you'll attract opinions, questions and different reactions.
8. News Format
People are pre-disposed to seek out what is new and different in their environment. To give readers a reason to read your blog content, your headline must say something she never heard before. If your headline make her feel "i already know about that." that's a big turn-off.
Putting your headline in terms of a story, news or announcement, have always works great. Headline starting with "Introducing", "At last", "Finally", "New", "Now", "Just released" and so on are all tested winners.
If you want to get inspiration, look at the cover of magazines or news paper. Those editors sure know how to write compelling headlines. They know the secret of headlines: it’s the headlines that sells. Same thing with your blog headlines.
9. Make BIG Claims
When you have a "Wow" level content, share it! Making big claims have prove to be very effective in driving people attentions. People who don't really need your post will also like to check it out.
When making big claims, you have to back up your claims with tangible proof or testimonial if you don't want to run a risk of loosing your readers interest.
- How i make $40,000 less than a month using [blank]
- You don't have to be a runner to win a marathon
10. Make a Promise
Will you teach your readers how to learn a new skill? Will you persuade them to do something they never done before? Will you unlock an ancient mystery? Whatever the story will do, it should have some use to the reader.
For your reader to see value in your copy, you must show how it will help him. Remember that people buy because they want a result. Make your headline have your big promise in it - and guarantee it!
- Sell your house in a day
- Get rid of that carpet stains once and for all
- How to burn fat until you hit your ideal weight - GUARANTEED!
To make your promising headline, simply speak to the issue which is foremost in your reader’s mind - the solution he have been craving for. Always deliver what you promised.
11. Ask a Question
Questions are a good way to arouse readers curiosity, effective at getting readers to leave comment, powering them to want to find out more and give them a need to read the full story.
- Why doctors don't get sick?
- Would you travel 1000miles for this girl?
- Do you make this blogging mistake?
When you ask a question, those who read it are wired to respond. But these is also risky if the readers immediate answer is 'no'. A question like "Do you want to know my blogging secrets?" might get a 'no' as answer. Likewise "Do you need a web designer?" can get skipped. Asking rhetorical question like "How do you know when it is time to hire a web designer?" sounds enticing.
Further Headline Writing Tips
- Write it first: Can you start writing an article without knowing the main idea or concept behind it? Can you write it without knowing what it’s about? Of course not. Don't save the headline for last. You must write it down first so as to know where the article is headed.
- Write different version: Don't just go with the first attempt. Write down 5-7 different styles and experiment the one that sound enticing by saying it loud or re-check it with a fresh mind after few hours to see how it will appeal to your audience.
- Use bold font size: Make sure the font size for your headlines is big and clear enough so people know they’re headlines. You’ve spent time creating headlines you can be proud of, won't it be a waste if people can't read them?.
- Check for boring headlines: Go through your blog archives to see if there is any headline that turn-off readers. If you find some, change it to give room for more people to read.
People don’t want to be tricked into reading something boring, they want to be drawn into something exciting. Don't make them feel depressed after reading your copy. The time spent on crafting your great headline, should also be spend on creating great content to back it up.
There’s a lot more you can study when it comes to headlines, but practice is more important than study, so get out there and create articles that need headlines, and incorporate the above best practice.
Another great resources on writing great headline is written by Brian Clark, titled How to write magnetic headline.
Which one of the above approaches have worked for you? Do you know any other techniques you think we have missed? Send it our way, and good luck with your next compelling headline.
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