How to write killer blog headlines

Nov 28, 2013 by
How to write killer blog headlines

There are many aspects to producing a great blog post, from structuring the post coherently to writing with creative flare and ensuring your pose is easily intelligible for your target audience. However, carefully crafting the words of your blog’s headline is perhaps the most important factor of all.

According to Copyblogger, out of every 10 people that read a blog’s headline, only two go on to read the rest. This is a staggering statistic. You can have the best content in the world but without an outstanding title no one will go on to read the blog post you’ve spent so much hard work on creating. The bottom line is this:

“The better your headlines are the higher your readership will be.”

Write the headline first

The headline of your post should be the very first thing you write, not the last! It seems counterintuitive to do things this way round, but it will make sense once your traffic starts growing accordingly.

Computer man

A headline should not simply be a summary of the points raised in the article. It works far better when phrased as a call to action, or a promise to the reader that implies some significant knowledge or other benefit will be gained in exchange for their reading time. By writing the headline first, you will feel compelled to structure your post according to the title and thus keep your content fully aligned with the reader’s expectations.

“How to” headlines

I know what you’re thinking: it’s been done time and time again, and you’re right, it has. For better or worse, the reason you keep seeing blogs that begin with the words ‘How to’ is because it’s a tried and tested method for attracting prospective readers. If you are in the position to be able to give people an answer to some of the most common problems currently in your field of expertise, why not do so in the form of a ‘How to’ guide? People are far more inclined to read an article which leaves them feeling like they gained access to a tangible skill or proficiency as a consequence. This technique also has the ability to establish your blog as a genuine source of value and authority in your field. Blend this idea with our guide to finding the perfect blog topic and you’ll have a winning combination.

List headlines

Similar to the ‘How to’ post, the list headline is also an effective method for enticing prospective readers to stay on and read the post. One of the reasons list posts are so popular is because it gives the reader an expectation of a clearly structured post, with many sub-headlines and lots of easily digestible information bites. People generally find it easier to read something when the conclusions are explicit and each point is definitive from the next. Creating a list headline gives prospective readers this promise; just make sure your content lives up to it!

Appeal to emotions

You should always attempt to appeal to the prospective reader’s self interest and make them understand intuitively that taking the time to read your article will benefit their life. Many successful headlines tap into the fear reaction by implying that not reading the article could have negative consequences for the future. Headlines can tap into positive emotions too, giving prospective readers the sense that reading the article could leave them with an enhanced lifestyle or sense of self. Some of the most powerful emotional motivators include: the desire to reduce effort, save more time, avoid loss or failure, make more money and be more successful.

Appealing to curiosity is also a powerful attention-grabber, captured so well in the currently trending “What happened when…” headline format.

Make it clickable

Whenever a blog post is shared on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the headline is usually what’s used as the main text for the update/tweet, so it’s important to maximise your click-through rate by coming up with a headline compelling enough to stand out from all the other tweets and updates that people are bombarded with on a daily basis. While choosing your words carefully is a no brainer, evidence suggests that click-through rate is boosted by including exclamation marks at the end of your headline as well as keeping the word count to eight words exactly. Whether or not eight is truly the magic number, the more succinctly you can get your point across the better!

Don’t rush it

Writing a great headline is something that takes time, so don’t rush it. Grinding out the prose for the bulk content of your article is okay, and sometimes necessary if time constraints demand it. However, you should never slack on the headline and always give careful attention to over every word until it reads perfectly. As a testament to the importance of headlines, The Huffington Post actually initially post multiple headlines for the same article and decide after five minutes worth of receiving traffic which version will be used and which will be discarded. Remember, the headline is the first thing that people will see in order to decide whether or not to read your article, and as we all know, first impressions count!

Given that your blog is a crucial part of your strategy for successful content marketing and so your blog headlines deserve all the attention you can give them.

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