David Ogilvy once said that “five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” Having ‘the catchiest headline on the planet’ may sound a bit far-fetched but it’s an absolute necessity to nail the art of crafting headlines just about right. It’s for survival in the content jungle. Great headlines are the hooks that draw in readers to your article and consequently to your blog.
What is a Headline
A headline is a stream of text that appears before your actual article. The term may be most used in but certainly not limited to the newspaper industry.
There can be many arguments over the must have features of a good headline to use in a blog post but it must be:
- relevant; one that precisely conveys what the content is all about
- short; one that is less than 70 characters to be precise
- catchy; one that captures the attention of most of the readers to compel them to read the whole content
Why is a Good Headline Necessary
Headlines are the first impression that your content is going to make on the mind of your readers. There’s already an abundant, steady flow of content on the web, almost on the point of information overflow. To get your content noticed in the ocean out there, you have to have a pretty good headline to catch their attention. Read the quote used in the opening paragraph again. There are five times people reading just the headlines as compared to those who read the whole content.
Many bad pieces of content may have an excellent headline that gets the content read. How many times have you clicked on a headline that caught your eye, read the whole piece and then silently or loudly swore to yourself? Happens to me all the time. You don’t know how an article might be written unless you read them, from top to bottom. But having a poor headline will ensure that your content will not be read by anyone, well except for your friends and family who you might force to read your content at literal gunpoint.
How to write a good headline thus has been a study for a long long time. This branch of study has even now been given a ridiculous name – ‘Headlinese‘. Also there are many professionals who specialize in writing only headlines for even more ridiculous sums of money. Let us now look at some of the approaches proven to improve our headline writing skills:
How to Write the Catchiest Headline on the Planet
There are some tricks that could be followed in writing the perfect headline for your blog post.
Ask What, Why, How, When, Who, Where
You can start your blog post by asking your readers some of these WH questions in your headline. “What makes a good headline”, “How to write a catchy headline” or “Why you should learn to write a good headline and how” – these all could have been working headlines for this post. When you begin by asking the question, be sure to research if that is a thing your readers want the solution to. There’s absolutely no point to talk about something that is not creating some problems for some of your readers.
Also when you begin by asking these questions, your readers immediately know that your article will be focused in answering the question / questions asked in your headline. There’ll be a balance between their expectation and your delivery of the answer if you just follow up your headline with your content.
No matter how good or bad they themselves are with Math, people of all sorts just tend to love the numbers. Have you noticed how many articles are there on the web that tells you about “10 things to do in Europe”, “45 viral videos on the internet and how they came to be” or “17 lessons they don’t teach you at school”? Numbers play a vital psychological role to assert the authoritativeness of a content and also promises some key takeaways. We love the guy who can provide us a certain number of takeaways from his content.
You can use any number in your headline. 10 or 5 works pretty well for almost all kinds of posts but sometimes a random number like 17 or 45 quickly raises the interest level.
Only thing to remember here is that not all articles are meant to have a certain number of takeaways and so forcing numbers into your headline will not always be optimum, could even be harmful in some cases.
We are hopelessly emotional in nature. You can talk facts and figures to establish your authority but people will come back to read your content if and only if they feel a certain connection to you throughout your content. So using emotional words, mostly adjectives can be a pretty efficient strategy to use when writing your headlines.
“Free” is a word that pops up in every other headline for a reason. It is considered as THE Magic Word by the marketers of all sorts. Some say the word has lost some of its appeal now but you can still use it successfully in your headline after some careful research into your target audience.
“Smart” and “Fun” are two more words that can be great fits in your headline. There are a lot more. You need to experiment a bit and change them up from time to time to see what works for you.
Promise (sometimes like you’re crazy)
People either search the internet to find some solution to the problems they’re having or for their entertainment. Both of these needs can effectively be satisfied by making a promise in your headline. This is a tricky thing to do because if you cannot meet your promise through your content, your readers will be disappointed or angry that you wasted their time. But when and if you deliver they’ll be your dedicated fans, shouting at the top of their lungs and carry you off in their arms to a golden throne to make you their king. Yes, I’m drifting off but you get the point.
Don’t overpromise but always be brave enough to make some crazy promises. They’ll attract people like never before to your content. And always, always deliver on your promises.
Your headline is the first thing people see. It sets their expectations from reading your article. So not being accurate in the headline itself is a terrible mistake. Make crazy promises alright, but always try to back them on a solid research or proven results. I have made a crazy promise in the headline of this post maybe but these tricks are proven to help you actually write “the catchiest headline on the planet” when followed right.
This is one of the elite level tricks that you can use to get that edge over your competitors’ headlines. “Success Strategy for Entrepreneurs”, “Brilliant Brands That Made History” and “Foolproof Formula for Never Working For A Boss” not only sound so cool but they also tend to catch our attention the most. It takes time to perfect this little trick but can pay huge dividends when done right.
Use Year or Month or a Certain Season
Using month and year on the headline of your content tells your reader that this content is regularly updated and consistent with recent trends of the industry. They are a must when writing guides and tutorial posts.
Certain festive seasons and periodic events can be used in a headline to gain short-term attention of a large number of visitors. “25 TV Series to Binge on This Christmas” or “How the Pandemic 2020 Changed the World” can be two very different post types, both using this strategy.
Three Great Headline Examples On A Blog Post
Armed with these tricks to write catchy headlines for your blog post, you are now all set to jump into writing a concise introduction in the next post of this “Write Them Right” series which took seed from this little post. But before that, try these suggestions, craft some headlines to use for your next blog post and tell me if this post helped in any way to improve your understanding of using headlines.
Thanks and have a happy week ahead.