What is the first thing you notice when browsing a blog’s front page?
What grabs your attention when reading news articles? What makes you want to click on a link?
Yeah, headlines are that important.
Yet most people work hard on a post, and just before they hit that “Publish” button do they stop and think about their title.
It’s not how this works.
First the headline, then everything else.
Because headlines can be the difference between having your post read or ignored.
Of course, there are no rules that will guarantee your post gets noticed, but you might want to consider some of the following.
Readers prefer straightforward, short and simple titles to cute or cryptic ones. They want to know what the post is about, what to expect.
One important aspect of this is that you must not give everything away. A bit of mystery goes a long way. If you can make them wonder if you have found some secret solution to a problem that has been nagging them for quite some time, then do it.
It’s worth it.
Like I said, it’s essential for readers to know what your post is about. Otherwise, they might not take the time to read it.
This is not just about SEO, it’s not about pleasing the algorithms to land one the first page, but it’s also about clearly defining your topic.
What is your post about?
How would someone who has never read it go about if they were to search the web for that kind of content?
I’d say this is the most important aspect. And one of the most overlooked.
Because odds are that your post is one of many on the same topic, and your headline is your best chance to distinguish it from others like it.
Imagine yourself searching for articles on a search engine or news aggregator — what would make you click your link?
Intrigue your reader, draw them into your post, make them want to read more!
Luckily, there’s a bit of an art to headline writing, so you can easily find inspiration. There are some tactics that are quite older than the Internet itself. Or electricity for that matter.
If they have worked for hundreds of years, I can’t see a reason why they’d stop working any time soon.
A few examples of blog posts that are guaranteed to want people to read your posts:
- How to… – because who doesn’t work a nice article explaining them how to do something they don’t know much about?
- How to… in 5, 10,15 Minutes – time, time, time. It’s never enough, and we never get it back once spent.
How to… Like a Boss – entice your readers with this title. Odds are, there’s a part of them that wants to be a boss. Or so the legend goes.
- Ways to… – ways, steps, tips. Use 7, use 3, use how many you like in order to teach your readers to do something.
- … That Will Change Your Life – You better make sure you deliver on your promise, and don’t provide some generic content or vague advice.
- Warning: … – People tend to want to read warnings.
- The Ultimate Guide to … – The Ultimate Guide means that you just have to read this one, and nothing else.
Of course, there are a lot of other ways to come up with a brilliant title. Lists tend to perform best, but you can also try to exclude some of the readers, which is something I have used in my recent ad of the 0 to 5 K Program here.
While certainly important, headlines are NOT everything. You still need to post something worthwhile. But coming up with an enticing title is not just the start of your post, it is an invitation for people to engage with your ideas.
If you put some effort into developing it you’ll find people take that all important step into your virtual space.
What is, in your opinion, the best headline you ever wrote?