If you want your blog posts to get noticed, it’s important to learn how to write attention-grabbing headlines.
Many people think that headline writing is a guessing game, but that’s not true. There’s an art and a science to writing better headlines, and studying techniques that the pros use is one of the best ways to write more effective headlines.
If you want to learn how to grab readers’ attention by writing more effective headlines, keep these five tips handy to improve your headline writing skills.
Tip #1: Keep headlines at 10 words or less
Aiming for ten words or less is a good rule of thumb for headlines.
If your headline is longer, you might be clouding your message with too many words. Headlines that are ten words or less are easy for readers to scan, and they’re easy to share on Twitter. Following this rule is the best way for you to know your headline is close to the ideal length.
Aiming for ten words or less also helps you to edit out unnecessary words and phrases. As an example, let’s compare two potential headlines for this post:
1) 5 Headline Writing Tips That Will Get Your Blog Posts Noticed Online
2) 5 Pro Tips for More Effective Blog Post Headlines.
The first headline example is twelve words long, and the second is eight. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the second example uses extra words “that will” and “online,” but neither carries much weight in the headline. By editing those words out, the headline becomes tighter and more effective, and that’s the goal of the 10-words-or-less rule.
With this said, ten words or less isn’t a magical formula, and there are times when longer headlines work better. But if you’re able to keep most of your headlines at 10 words or less, you can be assured that you’re blog is on its way to headlining with the best of them.
Tip #2: Make a promise and keep it
Every headline makes a promise to deliver something to the reader, and if you want to maintain your credibility, it’s important to always deliver on that promise.
For example, if I write a post with a headline such as The Ultimate Guide to Getting More Twitter Followers, that post better be the ultimate guide. If it’s not, and instead, it’s a short, sloppily-put-together post on getting more Twitter followers that’s no different than the hundreds of other posts about increasing Twitter followers, then readers will be angry.
The reason they clicked in the first place was to find the ultimate guide for getting more Twitter followers. Anything short of an ultimate guide will be a disappointment to the reader.
Remember this: Every headline makes a promise. If you want to keep your readers happy, always deliver on your promise, and never promise more than you can deliver.
Tip #3: Don’t reveal too much
Another secret for effective headline writing is to not reveal too much information. If you give away everything in the headline, there’s no reason for anyone to click through because they already know exactly what’s going to be in the post.
Instead, leave an information gap between what’s conveyed in the headline and what will be covered in the post. This creates a level of intrigue that compels readers to click through to satisfy their curiosity.
Let’s consider a sample headline:
The #1 Reason Businesses Don’t Close Sales Online.
If you’re reading this headline, you almost have to click through to find out what it’s about because you want to learn the number one reason businesses don’t close sales online. You don’t want to move on to do something else because you want to learn about this obviously important reason.
If, instead, the headline was written as:
Most Businesses Don’t Close Sales Online Because Their Websites Are Too Ugly
With the second headline there’s much less motivation to click through. People already know what the article will be about, leaving them no reason to click to read more.
As long as you don’t give everything away in the headline, you give readers more reason to visit your site to see what you’ve written.
Tip #4: Be ultra specific
Revealing too much information can be a problem for headline writing, but so can revealing too little. If people don’t have enough information available to motivate them to click through to your site, then they won’t. One way to solve this is to write headlines that are ultra specific.
For example, if someone was writing a post after Steve Jobs passed away, they could write a headline such as this:
You Will Be Missed
That’s great and really thoughtful, but what does it tell potential readers? Not much.
It leaves the reader wondering, “Who will be missed? Me? The writer’s dad? His cat Fluffy? Someone else?” The reader doesn’t have enough information to decide whether or not he wants to read the article.
If, instead, the writer wrote a headline saying:
You’ll Be Missed, Steve Jobs
Anyone interested in Steve Jobs would click through to see what the writer had to say. Since there’s more information and the headline is more specific, readers have enough detail to work with and can make a better decision about whether or not they want to click through to read the post.
When it comes to headlines, you never want to give away too much information, but you also don’t want to give away too little.
Tip #5: Use exciting adjectives
Many writing teachers teach students not to use extra modifiers.
They’ll tell you that extra adjectives and adverbs water down prose because it’s better to use stronger verbs and accurate nouns than to use extra adverbs and adjectives.
For example, it’s better to say “Michael Jordan dominated in the NBA,” than it is to say, “Michael Jordan played really well in the NBA.” The vigorous verb “dominated” communicates more about Michael Jordan’s career than the weaker, modified verb phrase “played really well.”
When it comes to writing headlines, exciting adjectives are preferred. The proper use of adjectives draws readers’ attention and gets your posts noticed.
Let’s consider the adjectives used in the following examples: “Pro” in 6 Pro Blog Tweaks to Get More E-mail Subscriptions, “Remarkable” in How to Create Remarkable Websites for Boring Products, and “Essential” and “Effective” in 7 Essential Elements of Effective Internet Marketing.
As shown in these examples, the adjectives pro, remarkable, essential, and effective all make the headlines more interesting than they would be without them.
As you can see from these tips, there’s more to headline writing than choosing a title that sounds good for some reason or another. There’s an art and a science to writing good headlines, and these five tips provide the tools you need to begin crafting better headlines starting today.
What about you? Have you used any of these tips, or do you have any you’d like to share? Leave a comment and we’ll discuss it below.