If you managed to carve out some time to write a great blog post or create an informative video, you don’t want your efforts to go unnoticed because you wrote a lackluster headline. Compelling headlines can be the difference between 10 clicks and 10,000 clicks, so it behooves you to take the time to craft a good one. Here is our list of dos and don’ts to help you fine-tune your online headline writing skills.
Absolutely Do Not …
- Write a “clickbait” headline that titillates but doesn’t contain the promised content
- Include factually incorrect information or data that is misleading. Seriously, people have grown very sensitive to “fake news” that can’t be traced to reliable sources.
- Include a photo below the headline that has nothing to do with the article content.
- Write a boring headline that doesn’t tell potential readers anything or fails to entice.
- Make it so long that Google will not be able to display the whole headline on search result listings.
- Use hyperbolic terms you can’t live up to, such as “killer tips” or “secret weapons.” Chances are that the contents have been revealed before.
- Forget about keywords. Get them in the headline if possible, but don’t mangle the laws of grammar to do it.
- Use dynamic words that hint at what’s revealed in the article.
- Be authentic with you voice. Your headlines should mirror your company’s ethos, not aim for the lowest common denominator.
- Build credibility by writing headlines that are supported by the content you’ve crafted.
- Include photos. People love them, they are good for SEO, and they make any “listicle” more compelling.
- Keep them concise and brief so they will read well in search engine listings.
- Try to keep them evergreen. Out-of-date headlines will seem stale quickly and garner fewer clicks.
- Use keywords, solid grammar and provable facts. Your readers will trust you more if you include these elements.
- Consider the medium. What works on Twitter is different from what attracts readers on Facebook or Instagram.
Headline-writing skills take time to hone, but you can get more readers if you are willing to stick with the process. Don’t forget that your analytics can be a great tool for tracking what works and what doesn’t for headline writing. Try writing two different headlines for a single blog post and see which one attracts the most readers. The insights you gather may help you in the future, both in learning what works and what makes readers abandon your site.
Examples You Can Steal
These are some headline suggestions for imaginary online posts. Decide which of these pairs of titles you’d be interested in reading more about. Note that the best alternatives contain active verbs, a mention of the reader and compelling descriptor words.
Vague: Pretty Wedding Cake Designs
Instead: 10 Swoon-Worthy Cake Designs for Your Upcoming Wedding
Boring: Seed Sorter Machines
Better: Seed-Sorting Machines That Can Boost Your Company’s Productivity
Clickbait: She Fed Her Cat. What Happened Next Made Our Jaws Drop
Accurate: Local Woman Surprised by Cat’s Reaction to Unusual Meal
These tips should set you on the right path for better headline writing. You, too, can drive traffic and entice readers with thoughtful headline word choices.