People say that, while 80% of people read a headline, only 20% of people read an article past that. You need to make the very start of an article the most interesting part of a piece. So, would you like to learn how to write a headline that will get people focused on your content?
This article will help you understand how to write a catchy title without compromising your writing style. By the end, you should be able to form a perfect blog post title that will bring more people in than ever before. So, read on and learn more about this side of content marketing.
Why Your Headline Matters
Your headline is often described as the promise you make your readers. It puts the reader in a mood as they prepare to learn from what you have written.
Similarly, if you write a poor headline, they will mentally prepare in a way that is jarring as soon as they start reading. This will cause many of your readers to bounce away from the page before they finish the first paragraph.
For this reason, many people choose to write the headline before they have even started writing the copy for an article. This lets the writer get into the mind space of having already made a promise, rather than needing to reverse-engineer a promise at a later time. So, having a headline improves the whole article by making it well-structured, well-planned, and clear.
Now, this does not mean that you cannot edit the headline later. Like any other part of the article, one can go back and change it before publishing.
This is especially useful if you expand on a topic or want to add extra steps when you have advertised fewer. Although, be careful not to bloat your article this way. It is easy to continue expanding because you have more to say, but you should hold onto those words for a future article instead.
Finally, every part of a web page is there to draw in a potential client. No headline on its own is going to convert someone from a random Internet browser to a customer, but it could well be step one. Your possible leads are going to bounce off boring, mundane, or insulting headlines, so you need to ensure that there is something special to them.
The Anatomy of a Good Headline
To understand how to write a good headline, you need to understand what makes one in the first place. This comes in two parts, the first of which is the structure of the words used in the headline. The second one below is a step-by-step guide to creating the perfect headline by looking at the themes and intents of what you are writing.
When you write the title, try to look at the makeup of the words you have used. You should balance words that are both commonly used in language with those that you do not see as often or even expect.
You should also use at least one “Power Word” and a couple of “Emotional Words”.
Common words should make up a quarter of the headline and include:
You should only use one or two of the rarer words, they include such choices as:
Power words create an impetus or a suggestion of action in a narrative. There should only be one in your headline. Examples of these words include the following:
- Will happen to
- Can make you
- You won’t believe
- How to
Finally, emotional words should only make up 10-15% of your headline. These create a worry, need, or desire in the reader, making them want to inquire about what the piece is about. Examples of these are:
- Everything you need
The Rule of 3s
When creating the headline, focus on the start and end of what you write. The first and last three words are the ones that pop out to most users and what they read when they only skim the headline.
This does not mean you do not have to pay any attention to the rest at all. Only that these are the ones you should refine more than the others.
How to Write a Headline That Draws the Eyes
As you move forward to create headlines, you will want to follow a simple step-by-step guide, especially the first few times. That way, you can have the assurances that you have done everything possible to make the headline the best that it can be.
1) Match Your Audience’s Needs
You will find it hard to write a headline, let alone the rest of an entire article, without knowing who your audience is and what they want from you. Once you discover this, you can craft headlines that appeal directly to your target’s needs and wants.
For example, if your audience is harried mothers or housewives, they are more like to want an article titled:
“How to cook a full meal for four in under 15 minutes”
…than they are to want an article titled:
“How to prepare a succulent roast dinner for one”
These are both food blogs that focus on tips for meals. Although one aims to help someone with utility whereas the other points to those with more time on their hands.
Different niches like these always need Filling. But, your headline should choose which direction to go in, as aiming to hit as many people as possible will not be interesting to anyone.
2) Focus on Your Keyword(s)
If you do not have any keywords, then you should look into them first, to find out how they can benefit your work.
Even if SEO is not one of your goals, you should not ignore it completely. If you perform some basic SEO best practices, such as through the use of keywords, you can make some “quick wins” to build your presence online.
Almost all social networks use keywords these days to ensure that people receive the content that is most relevant to them. Make sure to use them in a header, as well as the intro and outro of any blog post you make. Putting them in the header can also have a strong effect on how well-targeted your content appears to others.
3) What Are the Benefits to the Reader?
While this may be like point (1), it is important to note the differences. Despite being in a specific niche, you may still miss describing the benefits your article may provide. You should make it clear how a person’s life will improve by reading what you have written.
The user will not only find such a headline appealing. Also, it will allow them to imagine a situation where their day improves after looking at your website. This is a powerful emotional tool that you should not discount.
4) Clarity and Brevity
Within only a few words, you should summarize your whole article. It should not need someone to read for too long, as their eyes are instead likely to glance past the article header rather than taking anything in.
A good benchmark is to see if it would fit into a Google header string. If a header is too long, a Google search will cut it off. By keeping the header short, Google can display the entirety of it, meaning readers are more likely to notice and engage with it.
5) Attractive to Click
Any headline you create should not only offer something the viewer wants and needs but must grab their attention. It needs to show how it is a superior link to the others that are visible.
You can do this by grabbing the attention of the reader. For example, you can address them directly by wording the headline as outreach. Or, you could ask a question that they can only answer by reading your article.
Clickbait-y titles like this are often criticized. People view them as either not answering the question they pose or wasting a click someone did not want to make. As such, do not use them too often, otherwise, be careful and watch readers’ reactions to such things.
6) Use Numbers and Lists
There is something people find engaging about the use of numbers in headlines. We know that our brains find them appealing because it provides a clear piece of information, such as “There are 8 pieces of information I want here.” As such, if you can turn an article into a list, or even a “soft list” by removing the headers, do so.
When writing the headline itself, remember that the number must appear as a numeral. If you write a text number, such as “eight ways to cook the perfect pasta,” viewers’ eyes will slide off it much like any other word.
Also, use small numbers. “7 things you can do to improve your life” is more appealing than “83 ways to have a better experience”. The larger numbers will push people away who may not have time to engage with your content.
Finally, it may seem strange, but people do not trust even numbers. Even numbers seem unconsciously artificial to many, so instead of writing “10 things”, write 11 or 9.
7) Make Use of Buzzwords
Alongside numbers (above), you could try to use buzzwords. These are words that either make it very clear what an article is about to do (“Facts, Guide”) or create a narrative that is enticing (“Mistakes, Secrets”).
Examples of these words include:
- Step by Step
8) Be Funny
This will not always work, so be sure to watch how well it does as you begin to use it. A light-hearted blog will benefit from the appeal of a humorous headline. It is better there than on a deeply-professional business blog, for example.
Examples of how to do this might include:
False indifference, such as:
- 7 Ways To Be the Best Speaker… If You Even Want To
- Your Guide to Not Caring About Bitcoin
Hyperbole, such as:
- Why Star Trek is Dead To Me Forever and Should Be For You Too
- 9 Reasons Baseball Is the Only Game That Exists To Me
Pretending to do something immoral, such as:
- Why I Steal From People
- 9 Ways to Really Annoy Your Neighbours With a Better Lawn
9) Invoke Outrage
Like using humor, using reader anger is a very careful tightrope that you must walk. You need to ensure that the reader knows that what they are reading might be hyperbole or a clever turn of phrase. Some of this is easily achieved by people understanding the nature of headlines, but sometimes it is easy to go too far.
You can either throw in a few crass words, or otherwise attack something your audience love, or even the audience themselves. Examples of how to do this include:
- Why Your Opinions About Survivor 2022 Are Dumb
- Fuck Your BMW X1, the New X5 is So Much Better
- You Are a Hypocrite About Star Wars and Here’s Why
10) Make Sure It’s Unique
It might seem obvious, but you also have to make sure that what you write has not already appeared elsewhere before. Before you upload your article, put the headline into Google.
If it turns out many people have used it, or something close to it, before, you might want to think about changing it.
Any More Advice?
With those ten tips, you should have a much better idea of how to write a headline. There is still so much to learn, though, so if it is all a bit much, there is nothing wrong with getting some outside help.
Our marketing agency is ready to talk to you about your needs when it comes to your online presence. Our people can discuss what you are aiming to do and give you the advice you need for you to take your next steps. So, send us a message and get started.
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