If you’re new to the blogging game, you might think headlines are the least important factor of your blog posts. However, you’d be sorely mistaken. In fact, many bloggers would argue that you should write the headline first and then write the rest of the blog post.
Why Are Headlines So Important?
Headlines have always been important in the publishing world – they stand out, they catch the eye. They say “Hey! This article is worth reading!” They’re even more important in online publishing, because the potential reader has so many other things competing for their attention. Instead of just skimming a magazine stand or flipping through a newspaper, the reader is sitting at a computer ripe with distractions – Twitter, Facebook, the other RSS feeds in their Google Feed Reader, online news, Youtube, and so on.
Some people are familiar with the 80/20 rule, and it applies to headlines too – on average, if ten people see a headline, only two people will actually read the content that goes with the headline. And when the reader is surrounded by other interesting things to read and look at, the percentage might be even lower than that. You need to craft a headline good enough to make people take action and actually read your post.
Now that you know headlines are important, how do you write an amazing one?
Convey The Benefit to the Reader
The easiest way to make a headline get attention is to convey the benefit to the reader. If you look at the most popular types of headlines, these are all formulas that convey a benefit – how to posts, why posts (example: why you need something, why something matters, etc.), list posts of ways to do a certain action. When the potential reader knows how they’ll benefit from reading your post, they’re infinitely more likely to actually go and read your post.
Don’t Be Too Unrealistic
You want to convey the benefit, but don’t be too unrealistic. Readers are bombarded with headlines every day, and if they see another headline titled “How to Make a Million Dollars Using Your Computer – TODAY!,” they probably won’t click through – just roll their eyes and look for something else to read.
Going this route can go very, very well, when it’s done right. A well done headline like this can even add to the chances of a post going viral. The best way to do this is to compare two totally dissimilar things – an example: “What Moby Dick Taught Me About Blogging.”
Ask A Question
The human mind hates leaving questions unanswered. If you ask a question that most people don’t know the answer to, they’re more likely to click through to read the article, because now they really want to know the answer. This tactic is pretty similar to piquing curiosity – you want to make them click through because they just have to know what the post is about and how it pertains to them. Example: “What Do Mario Kart and Blogging Have in Common?” Another example: “Are You Making These Five Blogging Mistakes?”
And now you’re well on your way to becoming an expert headline writer! For a few extra resources, check out this post series on Copyblogger, including these two posts of tried and tested headline formulas.