If you are reading these words, that means this article's headline was effective enough. If you are not reading right now, well … That speaks for itself. This one point alone covers the most important observation you'll ever make about writing headlines: do they grab the attention of readers, or get lost in the ever-growing pile of published content?
Headline writing can feel like brain surgery or rocket science, but it does not have to be this daunting or complex if you have the right approach. Here are three ways to master the art of headline writing.
1. Does Your Headline Make Anyone Want To Keep Reading?
The most important aspect about a headline is whether or not it gets you to want to keep reading. That's really it. If you've captured the reader's attention and they have clicked through to the full page or article, the headline has done its job.
This is exactly why headline writing can be so frustrating, but also how and why it can become so simple, if you have the right formula.
Call me silly, predictable or boring, but it's a well-known fact within the world of writers that headline lists and listsicles in general simply work. In other words, readers are looking for perfectly bite-sized chunks of information that they can immediately understand and learn more from. If your headline is too vague or does not get to the point soon enough, you will have lost their attention before you even had a chance.
No matter who compresses your reader base, readers have limited time these days, so they want quality information and answers stat. Your headline needs to strike the balance between informative and provocative. You need to convey what the post will contain without giving away the entire answer. There are a few helpful ways to go about this that I cover later in this article.
When considering your tone of voice and word choice within the post, write to one person. Do your best to convey this single audience in the headline as well. What's the number one way to write to one person? Speak conversationally. Write as though you're simply having a conversation with your best friend over dinner on Friday night, and you'll be golden. It can be hard to step into this frame of mind at first, but once you give it enough chances it will become second nature.
2. Does Your Headline Kill Two Birds With One Stone?
Your headline should be appealing to the basic needs of your reader (whether in their personal life or business life), but it should be intriguing enough to spark considerable interest. When crafting your headline, focus on problems or common scenarios. Readers hop online to find information and solutions to problems, so keep your headaches solution-oriented.
In order to get some momentum going for writing your own headlines, it's helpful to understand what does not work so well. Here are three examples of bad headlines:
- How To Floss
- Why You Should not Buy A New Car
- Why Speed Dating Is Underrated
While these headlines are somewhat informative, they are painfully vague and ignite no real interest in the reader. Here are these same headline concepts with a fresh and mighty twist:
- 4 Ways Flossing Can Slash Your Medical Bill
- 5 Reasons A New Car Is (Almost) Always A Terrible Choice
- 7 Ways To Get Second Dates After Speed Dating
See how your interest in reading these articles has skyrocketed? This is because each headline was given a number, a much more specific problem and there is the promise of a solution. Apply these elements to your bland headlines and watch readership increase.
3. Has Your Headline Come From A Formula Or Role Model?
Occidentally you can let go of formulas and juice up your creative side a bit, but for the vast majority of headlines you write, you should be pulling from multiple sources of predictable success. In other words, do not reinvent the wheel unless you really have to.
There are dozens of headline formulas and "gimmes" that have worked for hundreds of bloggers and article writers. Such formulas and word strings include, but are not limited to:
- How To's – any sort of post that breaks down, in a detailed and informative manner, how to successfully achieve a result
- The "Ultimate Guide To" – a post that reveals a ton of helpful insider information on a popular topic or pernicious problem
- Can not Miss – these types of posts are great for highlighting something in your niche or customer base that most people do not realize they are missing, or being damaged by
- Looming / Big Questions – similar to the Can not Miss category, a Looming Question (s) post may cover a broad spread trend in your niche, something personal happening in your business, an infamously unsolved problem or anything else that people are wondering about and no one else seems to be talking about
- Did You Knows? – while this type is typically better for beginners, it can be a highly versatile post as you can customize the topic of the post for your audience, or for a particular part of your products / services
This is just a short list of proven, reliable headline prompts that can revitalize your blog or rejuvenate your article base. Use these as need be, and search online as well for other prompts and proven headline formulas that can take your conversions to the next level.