Your headline is the first thing people see when they view your blog post or article. Don’t let it be the last thing they see of your writing though. By paying attention to your word choice and crafting the best headline possible, you’ll inspire your future readers to click and keep reading. Just follow these steps and you’re well on your way to making the best first impression possible.
Make it Catchy or Create a Hook
Creating a catchy headline is about more than just using fun adjectives. Rather, try using word play that incites an emotion, and that includes laughter or intrigue, like the headline: “Big Rig Carrying Fruit Crashes on Fruit, Creates Jam.” While puns like this one aren’t necessary to create a hook, it can be a great way to initially grab your reader’s attention.
Keep it Relevant
While you’ll often be rewarded for your creativity in a headline, make sure that the headline is still relevant and that it, above all, makes logical sense. After all, readers want to know what they’ll be reading when they click open your article. Headlines that simply state, “New Study Shows Health Benefits,” tells nothing new to the reader.
Promise Valuable Information
Headlines, and in turn your articles, should offer something that the reader wants to know or learn about. With that in mind, think of headlines as a way of introducing the new skills someone will learn about when they read your article, or perhaps teach them a new way of looking at the world, or simply, a way to make their business better. For example, this headline from Maxwell Systems — “Best Practices Guide: Optimizing Your Construction Business for Profitable Growth” — hits on a number of things that will intrigue people in the construction industry: learning new skills, making a profit and making process improvements. In other words, the headline gives people in the industry every reason to click.
People love lists, in part because they’re often quite memorable. Plus, since numbers promise a list of sorts, readers will know exactly what kind of format the article is in even before they open the article. When using this tactic, try focusing on just three to seven as the number to use, as its quick and to the point. Then again, short lists aren’t required, which Buzzfeed proves every day with its lists and reliance on numbers in its headlines.
Take a Stand
The best way to inspire a conversation is to build a controversy. Take a stand in your headline, and it’ll immediately make people agree — or disagree — with you. Crafting your article using either what, why, how or when is often a good start to doing this.
State the Facts
If you ask a question in your headline, you run the risk of someone saying, “Nope, that topic doesn’t interest me,” and you’ve immediately lost a reader. Rather, state an interesting fact that will appeal to a wider audience.
Demonstrate What You’ll Teach
Again, this goes back to providing a value to your readers. If you share what you’ll be teaching from the get go, your readers will know exactly what they’ll learn by clicking through to your article. How-to articles are particularly successful at this, and you can use this “teaching” method for a whole slew of topics, like “How to Break Up with Your Boyfriend” or “How to Tie a Tie.”
Utilize Celebrity Names and Brands
Name recognition is a wonderful thing when it comes to headlines. As long as the name is relevant to your topic, use it. It doesn’t hurt that using well-known names — whether of brands, celebrities or even current trends — can also help your article in the search rankings as well. For one, “CAT Machine in Skyfall Movie” ties a well-known brand to a timely movie. It keeps the brand relevant, while also linking two things that people wouldn’t normally realize were related.
Keep it Short
Headlines should be easily digestible and easy to share, but those aren’t the only reasons to keep them under 65 characters. That length is also the maximum amount of characters that Google shows in its search results. That means if one of your keywords happens to fall after those 65 characters, then it’s doing you no good.
All nine of these tips are important to consider when you write your headline, but they’re not the only considerations. Make sure you’re using an active voice in your headlines, because passive is bland and doesn’t inspire action. Lastly, read the headline out loud before you publish to make sure it has a natural flow.
Still need inspiration to craft a stellar headline? Get started with these template headlines:
1. The Secret of [Blank]
2. How to Create a [Blank]
3. 5 Ways to Jumpstart [Blank]
4. Scam Alert: Don’t [Blank]
5. The Truth About [Blank]
6. Why [Blank] is Wrong, and [Blank] is Right
7. Is [Blank] Shortening Your Life?
8. Discover Award-Winning [Blank]
9. Finding Your Perfect [Blank]
10. 10 Things Not to Share With [Blank]
11. Why You Should [Blank] Before You Die
12. When [Blank] Isn’t Good Enough
13. Can [Blank] Help You Beat [Blank]?
14. How to Take Charge of [Blank]
15. Thousands Have [Blank], Why Not You?
16. The [Famous Person]’s Guide to [Blank]
17. Do Not Visit [Blank] Until You Read This
18. End Your Struggle to [Blank]
19. 5 Tips to Help You [Blank]
20. Where [Blank] Found His [Blank]