How to Write Powerful Headlines for Your Online Content
There are a variety of platforms for you to write articles and blogs, whether you prefer the likes of a personal blog on WordPress or you opt for the likes of Medium, Ghost, or HubPages. If you feel like your content is unloved or going unnoticed, then the problem might be in your headlines.
The likes of Medium are particularly wonderful if you value ideas. That’s the measure of a post, it isn’t about the big names of journalism or celebrities who want to blog. Your posts can gain a lot of traction with a small follower count and an even smaller niche.
If you want to write great headlines you have to think about search engine features and people. Great headlines depend on where someone is reading it and who you’re writing it for. Like content, your headline has to accomplish two basic things — it has to appeal to the target audience, and it has to provide value to that audience.
You’ll lose the majority of an audience if you don’t create a compelling headline. So, let’s get into it.
Seven Ways To Write Powerful Headlines
1.) The Working Title
Get started with a working title — a rough draft is the beginning point for everything including headlines. Don’t confuse yourself with topics and working titles. A topic is a general subject that could lead to a variety of different posts.
A working title is specific, and it will guide the post. So, imagine that your topic is raising a healthy family. Different writers may take that idea in a variety of directions, which could lead to working titles such as How Vitamin D Is The Key To Boosting Your Family’s Bones or How Parents Can Protect Their Children’s Emotional Well-Being. Two great titles and wildly different approaches to a topic.
2.) Sexy Accuracy
Your headline needs to be a little bit sexy, but it also needs to be accurate. You can achieve both of these things. What it hinges on is understanding your audience. You can use strong language (even if it’s negative) and alliteration to create a sexy headline. You can also focus on who instead of what or why.
For example, the working title 10 Of Our Favorite Brands of Twitter can be transformed into:
- 10 Brilliant Brands Slaying on Twitter
- Twitter Triumph: 10 Notable Names Who Get It
When you’re finessing headlines, never forget accuracy. Your headline sets expectations for readers. So, if you’re writing an article about 10 brands who are killing it on Twitter, adding to the headline that they don’t need any other social media site but Twitter… would be taking it too far. Unless, of course, you can find 10 brands who are nailing Twitter and operate literally nowhere else online.
This isn’t easy but do your best to optimize for both social media and search engines. It can be difficult. The keywords are critical so choose the keywords you know your target audience is actively searching for. When you have a keyword ready you can create a title around it, trying to have it near the beginning of the headline so it’s attention-grabbing.
Also, important is that the optimal headline length is 70 characters because none of the headline will be cut off in the search engine results return. Another important point, your headline should be tweetable. It should be short enough that the person sharing it has space to add a thought if they so wish.
Just to note, you can delete and repost your blogs on Medium. So, if there was a particularly powerful blog post that you feel didn’t get the response it deserved, you can remove it and give it another shot. If it still doesn’t perform as you’d expected, consider giving it a third shot but with a headline tweak. Whatever you do, just keep writing.
4.) Numbers, Formulas, & Keywords
There’s something about numbers that makes for an attention-grabbing headline. If you want to make lists stand out, then use original words in your headline and write interesting content about secrets, reasons, tips, tricks, advice, lessons, ideas, ways, principles, facts, etc.
There are formulas known to gain more interest. Just be sure that you don’t repeat the same outline otherwise you’ll miss your moment and annoy your audience.
Some of the most popular formulas include the secret, how to, and what you need to know…
The reason this works is that everyone loves to learn secrets, so when someone feels like they’re being let in on something that not everyone knows, they’re more than likely going to click on it to learn more. The secret for you is that you ensure your content is high-quality, so you don’t disappoint them once they do click.
There are two different how to options.
- How to (write) a headline that (goes viral). Offer a step-by-step guide that people are interested in learning more about! You want to provide a useful tool to help people learn something new and to learn it easily.
- How to (search SEO keywords) without (technical training). This is providing learning on how to achieve the desired result without much difficulty. Right now, there’s a gap between you and this thing, but once you read this article that obstacle will be removed.
5.) What You Need To Know
Engage readers by pushing them to learn more about this headline so they can fill in the gaps of their knowledge about a particular subject. What you need to know… about the newest Google AdWords update, etc.
6.) Do This Like…
There’s a final option, but this one should be used carefully. It’s when you use the name of a famous person/successful person to provide your article with credibility. You want people to think they can be as successful at something as this person can.
So, you’d formulate your headline as (Do this) like (successful person). You have to be able to deliver on that, though, which makes it a dangerous option.
7.) Keywords & Adjectives
We touched on the importance of keywords, and it’s important to emphasize that they should feature throughout your article or blog as well as in the headline. The closer to the beginning of the headline the better.
Appealing adjectives also make for compelling headlines. You’ve probably grown used to seeing surprising in headlines — other great options include smart, appealing, awesome, essential, proven, effortless, powerful, free, huge, etc.
While the content of your article or blog post is important, the headline is just as important. You can create a working title before writing your content, but you should always revisit the headline once you’ve finished the post. This allows you to make any tweaks necessary based on how your content unfolded.
You can write the most incredible content uploaded to the Internet, but if you can’t write a powerful headline to grab attention and gain clicks, then no one will ever know just how amazing a writer you are. So, even though you may feel like you’re selling out by crafting careful headlines, you’re not.
What you’re doing is ensuring the valuable information you have to offer is being seen. There’s no shame in that.