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?
Yes, headlines are that important. They act as a hook that attracts our readers, gets them to click on our articles, and give our words a bit of time and attention.
Yet, most bloggers work hard on a post, and only before they hit that “Publish” button do they stop for a while to think about their article’s title.
It’s not how this works.
First the headline, then everything else.
Because a bad or even generic headline means your article is doomed to go largely unread.
What makes a great headline?
An irresistible headline should:
- Provide some sense of what your post is about to the reader
- Elicit curiosity as to what benefit your article will provide
- Convey the idea that this post is somehow unique
- Urge the reader to read the post RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
Ask yourself these questions before you write your headline:
- Does your headline make it clear to the reader as to what’s in it for them if they read the post?
- What could you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable?
- Does your headline trigger a strong, actionable emotion?
Some even say that you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write a blog post on the headline. So, if you have a blog post that is really important to you, one that you really want people to read, you should obsess over your article’s title.
It takes work and focus, but the effort will ensure that as many people as possible read your posts.
Readers prefer straightforward, short, and simple titles to cute or cryptic ones. They want to know what the post is about, what to expect.
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?
Grab Attention With Numbers
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?
Numbers convey multiple things at once:
- A sense of authority and data-driven content (even though that may not be the case)
- A perspective of how long it will take to go through the article (especially when skimming)
The Balancing Act
There’s one aspect of headline writing that baffles most bloggers.
It seems that, in order to make readers curious, the only valid approach is the clickbait title, withholding valuable information as to what the article is all about.
In fact, this is a misunderstanding of how curiosity works.
Curiosity is the side-effect of not just wanting to know what an article is all about, but also:
- knowing how to do something
- knowing how to solve a problem
- replicating a certain desired result
A quality headline is not about how much or how little information you share, but about the quality of the information you promise to share in your article.
A good rule of thumb is this: ask yourself what value does your article add to the average reader.
In other words, an irresistible headline is a promise to a result desired by your ideal reader.
Do you want to level up your headline writing skills?
Download our free guide here.