How To Craft The Winning Headline
Before this, I had never considered headlines to be of utmost importance when writing a blog. Perhaps this is because my earlier blogs have all been personal and my readership pool was made up of close friends who would read what I wrote regardless. Let’s be honest – they are just being nosey! While content is still as important, headlines capture the attention of the reader immediately. As a blog writer, the six or less words of a headline will be the most important words you write.
Just like the idiom, to do something to get on the news – it commands attention and gives readers a hint of what’s to come. Why headlines, you may ask? A catchy headline is the bait to your hook. It lures the reader in.
Who reads headlines?
Subscribers – most people track headlines from their feed reader. They are more likely to sift through all the headlines and click to read the ones that stand out and grab their attention.
Other blogs – besides your subscribers, how else would people stumble on your posts? Most often, the link they would see from other blogs is your headline. If your headline catches their eye, they are likely to click on it to satisfy their curiosity. If not, on to the next one!
Social media – sites like Digg and Delicious attract heavy traffic daily and there are thousands of stories on them. If your headline catches their attention, you can expect to land in their “top stories” category, thus driving more traffic to your site.
Tips on writing a headline
Catchy – the aim of a headline is to grab the reader’s attention immediately. It is how you draw a reader into a story. If it doesn’t grab attention, it doesn’t matter what else the headline does. Don’t oversell your story though. If you draw a reader in and the story pales in comparison, then chances are, the next time, your headline will just remain that – a headline!
Beneficial – the best headlines tell the reader what he would get out of reading the story. Whatever the story is, it should interest or benefit the reader.
Concise – no one is going to read a headline with more than ten words. That’s not a headline, that’s a sentence! People expect to get their information quickly and in a simplified manner. Eliminate unnecessary words.
Specific – nothing is more annoying than a vague headline that doesn’t aid in telling you what the story is going to be about. Between “Headlines” and “How To Write The Winning Headline”, which would you rather click on?
Curiosity – your headline should summarize the content, but still leave the reader curious for more. “The Gay Story That Haunts The World Of Hockey” tells you that the story is about a gay man who plays hockey on a recognized level but leaves all other details for you to find out in the story. Think of it as the movie trailer that makes you sit up and watch while you wait for your show to start.
The How-To – these 2 words will make your headline a winner. Start with that and follow with a skill that people will want to learn. It would be hard to go wrong with that. Just don’t overdo it unless that is all your website is about.
Numbers – notice that numbers will come up a lot in headlines. If you don’t believe me, check out the magazine aisle at any store. More often than not, the covers that attract your attention are those with numbers on them. Think Cosmopolitan and GQ magazine. Their covers are constantly filled with catchy headlines. People are more likely to pay greater attention to something that says “50 Ways To Seduce A Man” as opposed to “Some Ways To Seduce A Man”.
Always start with the headline
Your mind tends to change and meander as you write, so writing the headline first and doing it correctly is important. Remember, your headline is the first sentence and sets the tone to your story. Everything you write in the post should be relevant to the headline.
By Natasha Samat, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services