Writing good headlines isn’t just for newspapers. It is a skill needed by everyone producing online content. Without a good headline to hook a reader, you have far less of a chance of being read and creating conversions than you need to succeed. With the need for SEO always entrenched in your mind, your title may need to be keyword optimized, so you may not have the freedom to be too creative. SEO counts big time in titles – don’t ever forget that!
If you feel the need to be creative, you can use your subtitle to draw attention. Just be careful not to get too cute with it. This post, for example, is about how to write a good headline. I could have used a subtitle to jazz it up. But what should I have used? Is there one style that is more effective than others?
People like to be shocked and stunned – that is why horror movies do so well. They also like to read about things that are sexy, exciting or new. Good headline writers know these things and use them to their advantage. They also know that humor is appreciated, as are references to common culture. The key is figuring out what fit’s the tone and topic you are working with – as well as where the content is going to wind up – not everyone appreciates shock, sexiness or shares your humor.
Let’s see what kind subtitles could have been selected for this post that work with what we have discussed above.
Why People Share Pictures More Than Articles (If possible use a scientific discovery showing percentages of people who pictures versus articles – you do need to substantiate what you say)
Sexy Photos Unveil Secrets (sex sells – don‘t be afraid to use it if you have the chance to!)
Exciting Ways to Spice up Your Headlines (oooh, excitement and information!)
Headlines – the Good, The Bad and the Ugly (everyone knows that movie and it gets your attention)
How Headlines Affect Your Bottom Line (haha!)
News at Eleven Words (eleven is about all you can get away with)
Do you get the idea yet? You are probably writing about something more intriguing than how to write a headline, so put on your thinking cap and be creative. Get more people to choose to read your article than the one next to it in the SERPs, and see your links and conversions rise as a result. You don’t have to be a master wordsmith to write a good headline – just a little creativity.
The key to it all is knowing your content and your audience. With that information alone you literally have limitless ways to write a catchy headline. Don’t fall back on rehashing what everyone else has done over and over again. Don’t write headlines and subheads that don’t deliver what they promise. Find a balance between crating a moment that makes the reader double take to make sure they read you right and being informative. And just like a joke – don’t give away the punch line soon – there is a difference between getting attention and giving away the cow and the milk.