Top 10 Tips for Writing Terrific Headlines

headlinesThe headline is the most important part of each article that you produce. On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read to theĀ bottomĀ of your article. To encourage your audience to read the rest of your content, here are several tips on how to make terrific headlines.

Tip #1: Consult swipe files

If you think today’s brilliant copywriters come up with terrific headlines from sheer talent, think again; many consult swipe files for ideas. Swipe files are compilations of proven advertising/sales materials, which you can use as an inspiration for your next killer copy.

Take note that using swipe files isn’t viewed as cheating. The headlines you see on the covers of today’s major publications have actually been used for decades; the words may be different, but their concepts are essentially unchanged.

Tip #2: Use strong adjectives

Utilising a modifier in your headline may make it sound subjective, but it adds weight to what you declare. If you use a particularly strong adjective, you can even catch the reader’s attention and interest. Just be careful with your choice, however; picking a trite term can dull your intended impact.

Tip #3: Numbered lists do wonders

One of the reasons why list-based articles thrive is because of its numbered headline, which gives readers an idea about what to expect in the content. List posts that start with “7 mind-blowing ways to” or “Top 10 killer tips” may now be commonplace in the blogosphere, but that’s because they’re easier to read, more likely to be shared, and generally draw more comments and traffic.

Tip #4: Create an information gap

According to Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein, curiosity occurs when people encounter a gap between what they know and what they want to know. You can pull this off by providing context and leaving out enough information, which then compels audience to keep reading.

Here are some examples:

  • “Here’s What Happens When X Does Y”
  • “What This X Person Did Is Pure Genius”

If you do it right, your readers would get the feeling that they’re missing out if they don’t click the headline and read the whole article.

Tip #5: Keep it short

When you write your headlines, make sure they don’t go over 65 characters. Short headlines fit better in search engine results, retweets, and email subject lines. They’re also easier to scan.

Tip #6: Name-drop

Name-dropping is the practice of mentioning famous people, companies, or brands in conversations. It’s usually done to impress others, but when it comes to headlines, adding a well-known moniker attracts attention and curiosity.

Tip #7: Include the benefits

To further sell your content, see to it that you mention how your audience would benefit from reading it. For instance, if you have an article that teaches your readers how to improve their website’s calls to action, your headline can say: “Effective Ways To Write Calls To Action That Will Boost Your Traffic“.

Tip #8: “How-to” headlines work

Simply putting “how to” in your headlines can work wonders, especially if you have an article that teaches people something or provides practical advice. Why? It tells your audience that they can learn from reading your article.

Tip #9: Ask a question

Question headlines are effective; if your audience doesn’t don’t know the answer, it makes them curious. See to it, however, that you don’t use a question that your readers can answer with a no, because people won’t read your article.

Tip #10: Test how it performs

Find out if your headline works by checking how it performs through A/B tests (like the Experiments feature in Google Analytics). This allows you to keep using the headlines that work and avoid the ones that don’t.

Fairfax Marketing Services also offers various tools to help you measure your stats, fine-tune your message, and maximise your digital marketing efforts.

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