If your blog or other social media lacks a compelling headline, you may as well be writing for yourself, because no one will see your terrific copy. Headlines are crucial to everything you write for your business.
Did the headline on this blog make you want to click on it? Why? Because you’re not getting as much traffic to your blog as you’d like, and you want to fix that? Because you’re not especially confident in your ability to write headlines, and would like to learn how?
Whatever the reason you think you decided to read this blog, the fact is that it worked.
It started with “How to”
The majority of best-selling non-fiction books in the self-help section contain the words “how to” or similar phrases like “the sure-fire way to” or “____ for Idiots/Dummies.” That’s because everyone wants the solution to problems they’ve encountered. They may have felt subconsciously that there was nothing they could do about them, and are relieved to find out they can.
It promised to solve a problem for you
You’ve heard the old cliché on how to get rich, “Find a need and fill it.” This is the heart of all advertising: solving problems for people, often ones didn’t know they had. Anything that is useful to your readers will attract them.
It offered a reward
The “reward” in this case would be a larger readership and more traffic to your website. PLUS, it’s good for SEO.
Now that you know the “why,” let us show you the “how.”
Start with the headline
You might think it’s easier to write your copy and then come up with a headline, but actually you should do it the other way around. With a compelling headline, you know what you have to write in the body of the copy. In effect, you’re making a promise to your readers that you then force yourself to fulfill as you write. In addition, the headline is often the hardest part, but once you get that right, it’ll be easier to compose the rest of the blog.
Entice your audience
Don’t give away all the information in the headline. The operative phrase across the Internet and all social media is “click bait.” This means a headline that almost forces people to click on it, like the now-famous “one weird trick.” That worked so well because it: a) promised to solve a problem in a single step; b) hinted that the solution was something out of the ordinary that you hadn’t tried before, i.e., “weird,” and, c) would be something simple and easy, as in, this little “trick” will get rid of your belly fat, or make you rich, or whatever.
Use words like “simple,” “easy,” “quick,” “fast,” “secret,” “ultimate,” “sure-fire,” and of course, “how to.” Other good phrases include “Beginners’ Guide to____,” and “_____ 101: An Introduction To ____.”
At the same time, don’t leave any doubt as to what your article is about. If you’re selling bird feeders and write a blog about how to attract certain types of songbirds, a headline like “Secrets For a Song” might seem poetic, but likely won’t attract clicks. Instead, try something like “10 Tips To Attract Your Favorite Songbirds.”
In our fast-paced lives, we don’t have time to pore through endless instructions on how to do something. We want results, and we want them now, and the simpler, the better. Lists (also known as “listicles”—a word combining “list” and “article”) promise that. If you can break your solution down into a list of “5 Ways To Do ___” or “20 Techniques for Better ____,” people will want to read what you’re writing about. Other good words for listicles include: strategies, methods, and ideas.
Shorter is better
For the purposes of being seen in a search engine, the best headlines tend to be shorter, i.e., under 70 characters. Longer than that and your headline will be cut off in the search results. If the headline must be longer, at least try to get the gist of what you’re writing about into those first 70 characters so it’s clear in the search results.
Finally, if you’re still having trouble constructing appealing headlines, consult our copywriting experts. We can help you find ways to make your headlines stand out from the crowd.