One of the biggest challenges I face in my profession is finding the right headline. I know that without the right headline, my clients just won’t get a good click rate, and on average only 2 out of 10 people will read the main article. That’s a lot of pressure, especially when you consider most headlines are no more than 6 or 7 words. Big pressure!
Of course, if I’m writing listicles or click bait articles the challenge becomes even harder. I’m competing with thousands of other articles listing out 10 this and 5 that, and most topics have already been covered. I really have to dig deep with those ones.
So, what makes the perfect headline? Is there a secret formula? Well, I’ll let you into a little secret of mine, and one which works for me. I start every article without a headline. Yeah! Pretty out there, right? Living life on the edge. And sometimes, I’ll type an entire article in Comic Sans just for kicks. I find that if I write the article first, the headline will magically reveal itself to me. I’m not saying it works well every time, but once I have the main crux of the article worked out, it certainly makes the process a lot easier!
Keeping It Short And Sweet
Here’s something you might not know. Google cuts off headlines at the 65 character mark. The perfect length for a headline is 6 words, and so this is a good rule of thumb when devising your headlines. When there is less for your visitors to read, you have a better chance of grabbing their attention.
Include The Reader
Use questions as a headline, or other ways to include your readers on a personal level. When you speak in a natural and personal way, you have more chance of grabbing their attention.
Use Engaging Adjectives
When it comes to writing attention grabbing headlines, adjectives are your friend. If you are solving a problem for your readers, use adjectives such as “effortless”, “unique” and “essential”. The more you can add descriptors in your headline, the more chance you have of touching on pain or interest points of your target audience.
Include Negative Wording
It might sound surprising, but negative wording works in headlines. Words such as “Stop”, “No” and “Without” are much more attention grabbing than their more positive antonyms. An example of this in action might be “Lose Weight Without Giving Up The Foods You Love”. It’s negative wording, but with a positive outcome.
The Numbers Game
Numbers can play a very important part in your headline. People are more efficient now than ever, and they want to know that you can solve a problem in 10 easy steps, or show them 5 of the best holidays on a shoestring. I’ve seen and worked with a lot of these articles, and it seems the higher the number the further the article will spread.
Always Room For Improvement
So you’ve settled on a headline, but you know it could be better. Let’s say your headline is “How To Sell Your Home”. It’s okay, and it tells the reader what the article is about, but it’s not exactly attention grabbing. Let’s add more oomph to it to give it more traction. “10 Ways To Sell Your Home Effortless In 24 hours” adds appeal, urgency and a hook that is irresistible to those desperate to sell a property.
And Finally…Keep It Relevant
One of the main reasons why headlines fail is because the are irrelevant or not specific to the article. Keep your headlines consistent, catchy and trustworthy to entice your readers and gain their trust.
Finding the perfect headline doesn’t have to be a chore. I’m actually still not happy with the headline of this article, but it came to me as I was writing, and I decided to just go with it. Sometimes, you just have to take that chance.