If you’re creating content for a blog, landing page, or maybe even a social post, the most important words you write might simply be the headline. This may sound crazy, especially if you have poured blood, sweat, and tears into your writing, but your sweat and tears are worth nothing if you don’t hook the readers, find leads, or lure customers. You’re asking your potential audience to commit precious time to read your content and the headline is what will grab their attention and make that commitment. With a great title, you can push your content in front of your target audience and start converting better than ever.
There might not be a magic formula to creating an irresistible headline, but here are a few tactics you can use that will get your headlines singing.
Tell them what they’re about to read without telling them what they’re about to read
This may seem obvious, but starting with what you’ve written is the best way to source your headline. Think about the meat of your content. You want your reader to know what they're getting into when they land on your article. You don’t want to write a great headline that isn’t really what your article is about, this is what’s known as a bait and switch or clickbait. You may get some traffic to your piece, but ultimately that traffic will leave, or bounce from your content. The reader may even come to distrust your brand and could potentially skip any future content.
Get more tips on social media etiquette.
Use the lingo
Whether you’re writing about a topic you’re grossly passionate about or something you need to research, it’s important to know and use the lingo as if you speak their lingo natively. This is especially important when considering the title.
Say you’re writing an article for a real estate blog intended for realtors to read. If the article is about why a home equity line of credit is a bad choice for some house hunters, then choose a headline like, “When a HELOC is the worst option for your customer” because you can assume your readers will have knowledge of a home equity line of credit as HELOC. Also, the acronym shortens the title quite a bit.
Lists, steps, tips, tricks
If your content is broken into a list, steps, or tips, this can pave the way for a great headline. Start with the number of steps and opt for the digit, rather than spelling out the number. This can be an effective way for the reader to know how much content or effort is required. This might also help you get seen by Google. Ever notice when googling a how-to and the first result will show a peek of the list of steps from the article? This is partly due to the headline and partly due to how the content is written.
Here are some examples:
7 steps to an effective and alluring headline
How to draw reads in with a headline in 7 steps
7 quick ways to write an effective headline
7 tips for writing an alluring and persuasive headline
Make it about them
A great way to draw your reader in is to make it about them. Humans are generally a bit self-centered and we like to know what they think. A way to do this in your headline is to simply add “you”. Here are a few examples:
7 steps to craft an alluring headline you’ve never thought of
Your guide to crafting the perfect headline
Essential tips to make sure you have the best headline
Your headlines will sing with these simple tips
Spice it up with adjectives
If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class you’ll remember the importance of adjectives. The same applies to a headline. Hop over to Thesaurus.com and find replacements for “great”, “perfect”, or “amazing”, and find words like “unbelievable”, “inspiring”, “outrageous”. These are words that can help bring more emotion to your headline and set the tone for what the reader can expect.
Write it again, and again, and again
Now that you have a few basics for your headline you can put them together in different variations. The more headlines you write the more options you have to mash up, swap out and then ultimately land on the most perfect one.
Now that you have a few options, it’s time to collaborate. Just like with any other writing project, you'll likely have someone to help you edit your piece. This goes for a headline too. If you have an official editor, a coworker, or maybe a friend looking over your article, why not also send over your headline ideas. They will have a fresh perspective and maybe even a few new ideas. They can also help you proof it for typos and errors.
Don’t ever overlook the importance of a headline. You can find one that will bring you more readers with a little time and creativity.