You’ve finally finished your blog post after spending hours researching and going over your sentences, getting them just right.
A headline quickly pops in to your head and you use it, not giving it much thought.
Not a good idea.
According to David Oglivy, on average five times as many people read headlines as they read the body copy.
Writing headlines for an online audience can be challenging and an attention-grabbing, yet informative headline is critical to your blog’s success. The reality is most people who read your headline won’t continue reading and only the readers who are drawn in will read the first sentence.
Here are some tips to help you write an effective online headline.
The Five W’s
It’s always worth thinking about the who, what, when, where and why of your story when thinking about a headline. Why should your readers care about your blog post? Ask yourself if you would click on your own headline, would it grab your attention.
Be Clear, Specific and Honest.
It’s great to get creative with words but don’t get too clever - try to make it clear what you are offering the reader. If your headline isn’t specific enough readers and customers won’t know if they are interested in reading what you have to say. Also, don’t make exciting promises that trick people in to reading something boring. You have to make it worthwhile with interesting content that matches the promise of the headline.
Your headline is there to create curiosity – so much that your readers can’t help themselves clicking on your post and sharing, buying, liking or signing up. It seems obvious but a way to do this is by using words that create emotional states. For example to create a safe and satisfied state, use words such as convenient, freedom, always and easy. When you want to create a sense of curiosity, forbidden, controversial, behind the scenes, hidden and so on.
No more clichés
A recent study by Analytics firm Chartbeat found that using conventional digital headline tricks, such as asking questions, name dropping and using punchy headlines, are no longer working. It may be that readers are now starting to grow weary of conventions. This is more of a reason to put time, research and originality into your headline. Sometimes writing your headline before the post can help you stay true to your message, giving you room to edit it later.
Write for the Social Media platform
A great headline that works for your blog post may not have the same effect on Facebook or Twitter. The same can be said that a Facebook headline may not create interest on Twitter or Instagram. Every social media platform has a different culture and your headline may have to change slightly for each platform to suit the audience.
Take extra time on your headline and think about what will grab attention. Make sure it describes the content in an honest, original and engaging way. You won’t regret it and your readers will thank you.