After my post last Friday ‘What makes good content?‘, I felt there was something missing as part of that process. The truth is that the best content in the world will not get read unless it is backed up by a good headline.
It has always been that headlines sell and draw in a reader since the printing industry took off. Writing the headline is a craft in itself. Newspapers and magazines are sold in their thousands every day from the front page headline alone, and that hasn’t changed with online content either.
Making people click
Why did you click the link to this post? Was it because you were curious about what makes a good headline? Are you a blogger who has trouble writing titles? You are looking to be educated, and if I was to video myself doing a silly little dance you’d also be entertained. Thankfully for all of you, I’m not going to go that far! We’ll just stick to educating (today).
How? Why? What?
These are always good words to begin with when thinking of a headline. They lead nicely on to a subject matter of interest to your targeted reader. Here is an example of each:
- How to get more people to retweet your tweets
- Why there is an explosion of social media use happening right now!
- What is the secret to Richard Branson’s success?
Of course they do not always have to follow the above formulas, there are plenty more and writing a headline is only limited by your imagination. One of the best local newspaper headlines I remember was ‘Badger terrorises family’. How could you not want to grab the paper and find out what was going on?
The other successful method that you see is list headlines where you create content in a list format. A great thing about this type of content is that it pretty much writes the headline itself. Whether you are going to write about ‘10 things to do in Portsmouth’, ‘5 reasons to post news content’ or ‘5 tips to become more productive’, you have a great headline ready to go.
Attaching emotion to your headline
Review of new maths education book for kids
How does the above headline grab you? If you are a parent it may arouse some interest, but otherwise it’s a bit flat, no better than the category it will be placed in on a website selling such a book.
Improve your child’s maths with this new home schooling book
I would like to think the above headline is a vast improvement on my first effort, and if you happen to be a teach at home parent you would really think “Yes, I want to find out more about this book to improve my child’s maths” and click to read the post.
You can play on all kinds of emotions and personalities of a person; fear, passion, insecurities, eagerness, curiosity, anger, generosity or empathy. Using emotionally charged headlines can mean giving a snapshot of your content.
The worst practice I see is content that does not live up to the expectations of the headline. So ensure that if your headline insinuates you are going to help a reader, you actually do help the reader in some way. A good headline does not mean your content is worthy of being read, it just means you will have a disappointed reader if you do not deliver on its promise.
There are many elements to crafting an award winning headline. Just like writing good content, you need to think about the reader and what mentally stimulates them so they then click to read more.