Top Tips for Writing Effective Headlines

Headlines are valuable real estate. They can be your most powerful tool for growing website traffic and getting more conversions, so it’s important to get them right.

The reality is that readers often don’t even get past the headline. This means you’ve only got a matter of seconds to hook their attention, so the pressure is on to make your headline as effective as possible.

Brainstorming headlines for an article about writing effective headlines might seem like something of a paradox, but there are some top tips you can use to write compelling headlines even if it’s about how to write better headlines.

Brainstorm Before You Write

Coming up with great ideas is the fun part of creating good content. Whether you’re writing a blog post or other form of content marketing, start by brainstorming all the different ways you could present your topic. Even if they’re not fully formed ideas, let your mind run wild and see what jumps out at you. The more ideas you have, the more likely one will be great.

Once you sift through them all, choose the ones you like best. You might find as you go along that one of the ideas is much better than the others, and can actually be developed into a whole piece on its own. If not, there’s still plenty to work with.

Use keywords strategically

It sounds obvious, but if you’re writing for an audience, then it goes without saying that your headline should use words and phrases that people will search for. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to see how many people are searching for terms related to your topic each month – this will give you powerful insight into what readers are looking for.

If you want more accurate data beyond the monthly search volumes provided by Google’s tool, try using SEMRush, which logs historical search data and predicts likely future queries.

Headlines are the difference between success and failure

When writing content, your headline is more important than almost any other element of it, because if no one reads it then what’s the point? It makes sense to spend just as much time on creating your headline as you do on writing the content itself. Do this right and there’s every chance that the traffic to your posts will be off the scale.

A great headline gets noticed

The human brain responds well to novelty, so make sure yours stands out from what people are already reading. You could employ some dark arts in order to get more clicks, but it’s generally better not to resort to trickery. Instead, make your headlines informative with a clear benefit to the reader, and get your point across quickly.

Be specific or be creative

Trying to attract attention with a vague headline is likely to backfire because people aren’t going to click on a term they don’t understand. However, it can be a good tactic to employ creativity in headlines if this adds value.

For example, instead of writing ‘Why You Should Read Our Blog’ try something like ’25 Reasons Why The World Needs Our Blog’. Clever but informative.

Keep it brief and simple

Nobody wants to read through hundreds of words when they only need one sentence for their answer. Keep your headlines short and sweet so that readers can find what they’re looking for fast. If you want more detailed articles, try linking to them in your headlines so that people can find what they need without having to go anywhere else.

Don’t give too much away

Some headlines tend to be deliberately vague or just leave out crucial information. As with everything content-related, the key is not to give too much away and ruin the element of surprise. If it’s a question, make sure you’ve got an intriguing answer; if it’s a list post, make sure readers want to know more by teasing some of the items on it.

Stay away from clichés

You want readers to click on your content, but don’t rely on generic headlines that they’re likely to have already seen. For example, if you’re writing about blogging try something else besides ‘5 Tips For Better Blogging’. Every blogger in the world knows what a cliché this is and how much better you could do.

Be observant about popular stories

If your headline can relate to a trending topic or hot news item, there’s every chance it’ll get more attention than usual as people will be curious to know how it applies to them. Of course, you’ve then got to deliver, but as long as what you post is accurate and up-to-date, this could be a great way to boost your audience.

Protect yourself against writer’s block

Sometimes you’ll sit down and struggle to come up with any headlines at all. If this happens, don’t let it derail the whole process – just move on and try again later. You can always come back and edit or replace existing ones so no harm done. Once you’ve got a shortlist, pick the best one and go for it.

Still stuck? Use these words:

1. How to  – Suitable for beginners and experts alike, this tactic is all about giving step-by-step instructions to guide readers through something they don’t know how to do.

2. The best way to  – This is useful if you think there’s a more effective or efficient way of doing something that your reader might not know about.

3. 10 reasons why  – This structure provides three benefits: it makes the content easy to read; it’s engaging as you’ll probably want to know what those ten reasons are, and it also allows you to make lists without having a ‘list post’ written all over them – bonus.

4. Name says it all – Sometimes, the best headline is one that’s straight to the point.

5. Can you  – This is a nice way of challenging your readers by asking them if they can do something or know about something, rather than just lecturing them.

6. How not to  – This is the opposite of the above tactic but works just as well in terms of engaging your audience and getting their attention.

7. Stop doing  – Another great way to get people involved in what you’re writing about because it compels them to read on in order to find out how they can stop doing whatever it is that you’ve mentioned. Obviously, this would be for more opinion-based pieces with an active angle, so use with caution.

8. Should you   – As with the ‘stop doing’ tactic, this one asks your readers a question about what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Again, you’ll need to be sure of your position before using it as people won’t want to read on if you’re trying to tell them what to do.

9. Are you  – Asking a question is a good way of opening any post and getting readers involved in it from the off. But remember this only works if you eventually provide an answer.

10. When  – This can fit any bill because it works for both past and future events/happenings so there’s no excuse not to use it. It also creates an opportunity for you to talk about cultural and temporal issues etc.

11. Because  – This is a versatile word because it’s such a great connector – you can use it to justify anything so again, there’s no excuse for not using it.

Headlines are important because they are the first thing people see. If you want to get more people to read your blog post, make sure your headline is catchy and informative. You could try using creativity or being specific with your headlines to attract attention. Keep in mind that you don’t want to give too much away in the headline, as readers will be more likely to click on a headline that leaves them wanting more information. If you need help coming up with ideas, our team at Pinghowe can assist you. Contact us today!