Read All About It! 4 Tips For Writing Catchy Headlines
Every week, once I’ve found a topic to write about, once I’ve done enough research that the blog post is just falling right out of my head, I am faced with a conundrum: my work needs a catchy title. Whether you’re writing a blog post, an article, or a presentation, there is one thing your audience will see before anything else; the headline. It’s there to draw in your audience and get your work read. Optimizing your SEO for Google searches and promoting yourself on social media is a great way to get your work out there, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get readers.
So how do you do it? How do you come up with a headline so snappy, so engaging that your readers go: “I can’t wait to find out what the heck this article is about!”
I have done the research, I have read so many informative articles, and yet sadly, the answer does not seem to be puns. That is not going to stop me from making them at every oppuntunity, but the best headlines are written with these principles in mind:
Lame Pun Coon gets me.
1. Keep It Simple and Specific:
Tell your audience what your work is about in the quickest, easiest terms. People want to know what they’ll be reading; being coy or vague means that readers will skip over your article because they simply don’t know what they’re committing to, and an overly long cause a reader to lose interest before they reach the end.
2. Ask a Question
And then answer it in your blog post. Humans are innately curious, and we want to know “What makes this rock so interesting?” Rocks are not inherently interesting, so what is it that sets it apart from others? Is it shiny? Is it shaped like a head? Maybe it’s an unusual shade of purple previously unknown to man. I don’t know, but I’m going to click this article and find out.
3. Consider the Content
I feel as though this headline speaks for itself
This one is pretty straight forward, and ties in well with keeping it simple. If you’re writing a listicle, include the number of bullet points you hit in the headline. By the way, I hear listicles with an odd or prime number of bullet points do the best, but if you really want to hit the perfect number of points, that number is 29. Similarly, if you’re writing a “how to” article, simply titling your article “How To Do The Thing” is enough. After all, people who are looking for how-to articles aren’t usually looking for a story; they want instructions, and they want them now.
More importantly, don’t use the bait and switch method in your headlines. Having a good headline helps readers identify articles that they’re looking to read, and if your headline says one thing, but your article says another, you’re going to have a lot of unhappy readers. It builds a sense of distrust, and may discourage them from coming back and reading your work again.
4. Incorporate Action Words and Keywords:
Yes, a headline is made up entirely out of words, but as it turns out, not all words were created equal. Action words are words that describe actions. They’re the kind of words that drive a sentence. They move the thought along, keeping readers hanging onto every word, unlike stop words like was, is, the, and which. While stop words are perfectly functional words, too many of them will slow down your sentence and create a passive-voice delivery, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
Including keywords in your headline is not just important for maintaining good SEO; it helps readers find your article. If your future audience searches the word “turtle,” as soon as they see the word “turtle” in your headline, they know they’ve found what they’re looking for.
This is the last one, I promise
As important as it is to write an article with interesting and informative content, all your hard work may end up going to waste without a good headline to cap it all off. Luckily, it’s not hard to write a catchy headline when you keep it simple, consider the content, and use good, evocative language. And with these tips in mind, not only can we write better headlines, but we can be better at spotting the articles we actually want to read, and start avoiding some of all that clickbait.
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