Getting a headline right is probably one of the most important parts of creating online content either for your personal blog or business website. The headline will, more often than not, be the main thing that will help a prospective reader decide whether or not you have the information they want or need.
To encourage readers to click on your link, sometimes we need to simply “say what you see” – for those of you who remember Catch Phrase I’m talking about taking a leaf out of Roy Walker’s book.
Finding a good balance of the amount of time you spend on a headline is imperative. It’s important to evaluate the type of content. Timeless content that can be shared over and over again should always take a little longer to shape. Throwaway content which goes out of time or fashion quickly can be developed much quicker.
- Be informative
- Be interesting
- Evoke curiosity
- Inspire the reader
- Be truthful (to what the content is)
If your blog or brand allows don’t be afraid to be:
- Off The Wall
- Over Excited
But be careful not to make the reader:
- Feel lied to
Negative feelings can cause your potential reader to switch off before they’ve assessed whether they would be interested in your content. Always remember that people make snap decisions.
Websites to inspire:
Some media institutions are developing great content headlines already and they are working. But always remember that these institutions have big business behind them so don’t be disappointed if your content doesn’t deliver in the way theirs has.
Here are some to dip in and out of for ideas and inspiration:
At Upworthy it’s been reported that writers will knock out 25 headlines for the same article in an attempt to find the perfect one. Writing this many headlines forces the writer to think outside the box and push the boundaries of what they think would be an “acceptable” headlines. I’m not advocating anyone should do this unless the piece of content is going to be used in a native advertising campaign or will be sponsored.
** TOP TIP ** Don’t be afraid to google the actual story you want to create and take inspiration from how other people have done it.
Words that work:
Having spent some time going through several websites which use clever and interesting headlines I found these to be some of good buzz words to use in headlines (if you have any more to add let us know):
Phrases that work:
I did the same research looking for phrases that seemed to be repeated and used widely:
The secret XXXX behind XXXX to XXXX
The world needs more happy, here’s some…
A XXXX in XX pictures
Ways to XXXX
XX questions XXX ask XXXX
Reasons to XXXX
Great ways to XXXX
How to XXXX
Reasons you should XXXX
I XXXX but after watching this I XXXX
She XXXX the result was XXXX
Boost your XXXX by XXXX
Here’s an amazing XXXX
Try this XXXX to XXXX
This XXXX explains why XXXX
Why you should XXXX
Can you really XXXX
XX tips to XXXX
What is XXXX
The XX benefits of XXXX
Natural ways to XXXX
XX signs of XXXX
XX symptoms of XXXX
Best ways to XXXX
What kind of XXXX
Ideal for XXXX
Why do XXXX
Pictures that will make you XXXX
The future of XXXX is here XXXX
XX homemade tips / ideas / solutions
Get rid of XXXX
Beginners guide to XXXX
The truth about XXXX
The basics of XXXX
What are XXXX
Did you know XXXX
Is this XXXXX
A headline formula that can help:
While doing some training with an American digital marketing company Digital Marketer they provided us with these few headline formulas – you would be surprised how well they work for most things. One of their free resources The Ultimate Social Media Swipe File is definitely worth downloading. You should also check out their blog post Learn to Write Headlines That Get More Clicks as it’s a fantastic resource.
X Ways to [DESIRED END RESULT] in [TIME PERIOD]
– Example: 19 Ways To Cook a Nutritious Dinner in 15 Minutes or Less
X [TOPIC] Ideas That Will [DESIRED END RESULT]
– Example: 22 DIY Projects That Will Increase the Value Of Your Home
X Ways to [DESIRED END RESULT] Without [UNDESIRED RESULT or CONSTRAINT]
– Example: 5 Ways to Purify Water Without Having To Build a Fire
X [THINGS] That Will [DESIRED END RESULT]
– Example: 11 Skin Care Products That Will Remove Wrinkles
X Ways to Rid Yourself of [UNDESIRED RESULT]
– Example: 19 Ways to Rid Yourself of Credit Crushing Debt
Check out lots more top tips at digitalmarketer.com/blog one of my favourite blogs in the content marketing space.
Whilst websites like Upworthy promote the use of longer headlines at Excalibur Press and The Content Club we try to aim to make them Twitter friendly.
However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Whatever works for the story is our true preference, there’s no point trying to shoe-horn a big giant square into a teeny tiny circle.
So our optimum to save lots of hassle is around 100 characters (to allow for links & hashtags to be added) – this article is 62 characters – and I would say probably 40 characters being the shortest
So, what does 100 characters look like? It’s probably around this length or, in fact, a little more
Here’s what 40 characters will get you!!
When writing headlines try to:
- Make a promise not a statement
What will the reader GAIN by reading this? Maybe they will simply be entertained or maybe they will be enlightened, educated, trained etc…
- How long will it take to read?
When you read your headline does it give the reader an indication as to how long it will require their attention? For example if you’ve said it’s a list of 100 things, they will know it will take longer to read. But if you say things like “quick” and “simple” list they will know they can skim it quickly.
This is probably the most important element. People want to find out new things, our thirst for discovery has never been greater – you can tap into this with the right headline.
Do you need help creating content for your business or reaching out to the press and media?
At Excalibur Press we have a team of over 12 publicists, content creators, copywriters, journalists and bloggers in a variety of specialisms writing blogs, website content, video, photography and more for clients on a daily basis.
If you would like to speak to a content creator or publicist or would like more information about our rates and process just call 07305354209 or email [email protected].
Find out more about Excalibur Press at excaliburpress.co.