4 Tips to Writing Great Headlines

Filed as Guides on June 20, 2013 8:00 am

writing great headlines

In the world of online media, many websites with great content face a dire problem: writing great headlines. Sadly, thousands, potentially millions of blog posts go relatively unnoticed because of a boring, or unresponsive title. I liken a blog post to fishing: your site is the rod, your content is the line, and the hook is your headline. Without a solid hook, you can’t capture the fish, i.e. grab people’s attention.

There are several great ways to go about writing great headlines which we’ll dive into, but there are also bad ways. While link-baiting can be done correctly, it often comes off sleazy, and deceptive.

Your goal should not be to gain attention for the sake of increasing pageviews, and racking up ad dollars. It should be to gain attention because you are an authority, and a reliable source of awesome content. The success, although not arriving as fast as most of us would like, will come.

How-Tos, Numbered Posts Are Your Best Friend

As a species, us humans gravitate towards numbers. It’s ingrained in us from an early age, and most of us at least start out with the assumption that the bigger the number, the better. Now, you can write a blog post on “157 Tips To Making Mouth Watering Pizza”, but that might be a bit overkill.

Instead, focus on several “tips”, “ways”, “tactics”, “strategies”, “reasons”, etc., to solving XYZ problem, or on demonstrating your knowledge. Top 10 lists also do well, and words like “most” or “best” trigger a reader’s sweet spot.

How-to blog posts speak directly to one’s yearning to learn something new. “How To Bank $1,000 From Your Online Store In Less Than 30 Minutes” is a lot more enticing than “Generating An Extra $1,000 From Your Online Store”.

Expand Your Use Of More Powerful Words

Certain words have a way of invoking emotions. We have an extensive arsenal to choose from, so why not use them more often?

Here is just a small list of such words to use towards writing great headlines:

  • Awesome
  • Amazing
  • Fantastic
  • Revolutionize
  • Disrupt
  • Innovative
  • Killer
  • Super
  • Boost
  • Empower
  • Generate
  • Increase
  • Achieve
  • Expand
  • Uncover
  • Maximize
  • Engage
  • Extract
  • Inspire

We could go on and on, but you get the idea. Overkill is very easy, so read over your headline multiple times to ensure it doesn’t come off as such.

Keep It Short

There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, search engines only display the first 70 characters. Number two, with the advent of social media, attention spans have become increasingly limited. Also, if your blog receives a good amount of traffic from say Twitter, you have to account for your headline, and link to said blog post fitting in 140 characters.

As we talked about in the beginning, your headline is the hook. If you fail to grab people’s attention, all your hard work in hopefully writing something great, has suffered from something that could have easily been fixed.

Practice Your ABT’s: Always Be Tweaking

Writing great headlines can be a difficult process no matter your experience or skill level. Even after contributing to many high-level sites, and writing several hundred posts for my own blog, it can be easier simply writing the content!

However, what’s important is that through the entire writing process, you are tweaking and making changes. Typically, the rough draft will come off mediocre at best. Over time though, you will get better. Keeping these tips in mind, your blog will thank you for the extra readers.

What are some of your tips for writing great headlines?

Photo credit: Christopher Woo

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