The most attractive headlines are descriptive, simple, and slightly racy.
Here’s how to write a good one every time.
1. Summarize the story in the title.
Give readers the low down of the story right away. A headline provides the gist of the news, content, story angle, etc. Be descriptive in a concise way. Spend the most time writing the headline first. This is the best way to get it right.
2. Be creative.
I can’t stress enough how critical it is to let your creative juices flow like hot lava. It’s your job to draw readers in and make them click on the title to see what else is in the story. When the headline is the only chance you get, spend more time on it!
3. Say no to hashtags.
If you think you’re killing two birds with one stone by writing a headline for Twitter with a hashtag, think again. A headline with a hashtag is unappealing. Besides, Twitter is not the only channel for sharing. Other channels don’t use hashtags to capture topics, so why use one?
4. Reconsider name dropping.
You may be in love with a book author, client or peer in your tribe or feed, but guess what? Your readers have no clue who that person is. When you name drop with the @ sign in a headline, it diminishes the headline and makes it promotional.
5. Use more than one or two words.
Amazingly, bloggers think a headline with one or two words is acceptable. Rather, it’s an immediate signal to run for the hills. While the content may be decent, there’s no way to tell because one-word headlines say and do nothing to entice a reader to open the door.
6. Be tastefully raucous.
Some writers never use raucous words in a headline, and that’s up to the discretion of the writer. However, if you’re going to use the “sex sells” mantra, be tasteful about it. Do a test on occasion: Add a word that’s racier than what you’re used to and see if traffic increases.
7. Keep it simple.
When a headline carries on for three lines, readers’ eyes gloss over. It’s critical to keep a headline short, sweet, simple, and to the point. Are you not satisfied with yours? Ask someone for help. People like to help others.
8. Keep keywords to a minimum.
Never overdo keyword littering in a headline. That’s one thing every reader picks up on, and readers then expect the content to be written for search engine optimization (SEO) juicing, too. All bloggers want to boost their search engine results pages, but they need to do it in a minimalist way.
9. Use active voice.
Write a how-to headline, or one that includes an action verb. Here’s an example: “How to refinish a spindle chair in half the time.”
Not only does that title tell me I’m going to learn how to do something, it also tells me I can do it efficiently. (Anyone who has refinished spindle-chair legs knows how challenging it is!)
10. Ignore first-person pronouns.
Using the word “I” is verboten—that’s German for “forbidden.” There are no hard or fast rules to blog headline writing, but this one should be set in stone.
11. Don’t sell.
I can’t stress enough how horrific it is to read a headline in which the author shares coupons or deals on products. There’s no easier way to alienate readers.
12. Know your audience.
Who is in your community? Do you have mommy bloggers who might like to know which brand of children’s clothing stands up to 10 washings? Are you an author trying to showcase your latest book? Do you write professionally for small businesses? When you write a post with your community in mind, the headline needs to relate to them.
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