When you do a Web search or scroll through your email inbox what is it that makes you stop and click? The headline (otherwise known as a Title Line when it appears in the Google list). In a few words, you are telling the reader what it is they are going to find inside.
The headline is a critical part of attracting readers to your blog or website, or to prompt someone to open your email.
Some writers will tell you that you should have your headline before you write the article or letter. Others will tell you it needs to find its way out of the copy that you write. Whichever way you prefer doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you put some focused thought into making it eye-catching. As you scan your feed or the newsstand, you take in a lot of information. Sometimes you might feel that the headline has told you the story and there’s no need to read further. If that’s the case why bother writing the article? The real point of the exercise is to prompt the reader to read the first paragraph. An added challenge in the online world is that the headline also needs to be SEO friendly, as well as eye-catchingly appealing.
Headlines can be broken down into three categories – self-interest, news, and curiosity.
We are a naturally curious group. Both news and self-interest articles can be introduced by piquing someone’s natural curiosity. You can build interest in your article by creating a headline that can only be satisfied by reading further. And remember, it’s not about your product or service, it’s about the reader and what you can do to help them.
Here are 5 headline-writing tips to help you find the words:
- Numbered Lists
We live in a time-starved world. We have a limited time to check the headlines before we move on to our next task. Headlines that use lists or numbers tell the reader the article will be easily scannable. HubSpot recently reviewed their top read blogs for 2017. They found numbered lists to be most effective.
Sample: 5 Must Do’s Before Listing Your Home For Sale
Sample: 4 Home Improvements Better Left to Your Contractor
- Power Words
It’s important to remember that search engines and email inboxes cut off headlines and meta tags after a few characters. Therefore, be sure to have the most interesting part of your headline at the beginning. Better yet, keep your tile and meta tags within their character counts.
The following power words will help to get you started. You can add a number in front of any of them:
- Tips to…
- Top…ways to…
- Secrets that…
- How to…
- Ideas for…
- Easy Do-It-Yourself …
- Reasons to…
- Fail-safe Techniques…
- Statistics show…
- Give Them Confidence
We are our own worst critics. Oprah made a career at reminding us just how vulnerable we are. Writing a headline that solves our problem and gives us the courage to try something we didn’t think we had the skills to do is a sure fire way to get someone to read on.
Sample: Home Improvement Ideas For The Non-Decorator
Sample: How To Plant Tulips Without Giving The Squirrels Their Dinner
- Make it quick
Like the numbers and lists note above, putting a timeline on the task will show the most time-starved client that you have their schedule in mind.
Sample: Improve your curb appeal in less than an hour
- Call a friend
Collaboration is a good thing when it comes to headlines. Write three or four and ask a colleague or friend what they think. One of your ideas may be perfect, but your friend may think of something better.
What have been your most effective headlines? Tell me in the comments below.
Or if the idea of creating that tantalizing headline makes you drop your pen and go for ice cream I can help. Contact me, and we can create them together.
P.S. Remember you’re not alone. Even the best writers get writer’s block. I’m here to help. Contact me for your writing needs – landing pages, marketing materials, direct mail, social media and Facebook Ads.
I’m Diana Cape, and I’ve been writing for businesses large and small for over 25 years. I specialize in creating content for websites, social media, blogs and traditional marketing material for Canadian small businesses. Let me help you choose the content that will reassure your prospects that your industry know-how and skills will make their dream a reality.