Why is your headline the most important part of your blog post?
A headlines primary job is to get your reader to read the first sentence of your blog post. No more, no less. Every sentence after that has the exact same job, to get the reader further into the article.
Plus in this instant gratification world, you have about 2 seconds to capture your readers attention and get them to read that first sentence. Fact is, 8 out of 10 will read the headline, but only 2 out of those 10 will actually click through and read the first sentence.
If that isn’t enough, the real challenge is for that headline to cut through all the clutter that your reader is bombarded with each day. With 2 million blog posts, 294 billion emails and 864 thousand hours of video created each and every day, it becomes a monumental task to gain their attention.
You’re almost doomed before you even try…almost…
So what works?
The LIST type headline…
The list headline can be from a few items in a list to a huge list. Rule of thumb is the more items in the list, the more traffic can be potentially driven to your blog. The huge mega list takes much longer to create, but can well be worth the effort.
Example: “50 Windows tools to drive traffic to your blog”
The HOW TO type headline
People are always looking for a solution to some problem they are having. Your headline that addresses their problem with a solution, not only gets read, but gets shared across social media.
Example: “How to create killer headlines like a boss”
The BEST AND THE WORST type headlines
This is where you pick out the best or worst point of a topic. Here’s where using superlatives…(A what?
…superlatives, the highest degree of the comparison of adjectives and adverbs…that should get you thinkin’…)
can actually help the performance of your headline.
You can use Positive:
Best, Awesome, Always, Fastest, Easiest, Most, Greatest….
Or you can use Negative superlatives:
Never, Worst, Nothing, No Way, Avoid, Stop…
Believe it or not negative superlatives work 30% better than positive superlatives…go figure.
Positive example: “10 awesome things to do to drive traffic to your blog”
Negative example: “5 foods you should never eat!”
There have been lengthy discussions…(yes, I did that on purpose) on how long your headline should be. Studies have shown that people skim when they read. The headline is no exception. These skimmers apparently seem to focus on the first 3 and the last 3 words of a headline, so should you.
Kind of like this…
Word1 word2 word3 blah blah blah blah lastword1 lastword2 lastword3
How about a little neuroscience?
Roger Dooley over at NeuroscienceMarketing.com explains this a whole lot better than I can, but it seems you can trick the brain to attention.
No, not some Jedi mind trick or anything unethical mind you, just good ole’ science of the brain.
It’s common practice to substitute a word in a familiar phrase to use in a similar context. Home, Smart Home comes immediately to mind when discussing Smart Homes.
But here’s the deal…
If you use a common phrase, the brain begins to predict what the end will be. So when you change the ending, the brain is tricked into attention when it’s not what it predicted….
Yeah…try it sometime.
For example: “Don’t put all your eggs in one … hen-house”…
See didn’t that get your attention. You were thinking “Basket”, weren’t you?
Headline formulas have been around a long time, as long as copy writers have figured out they could move a few words around and create a new headline.
So why would you use a formula when you can create a new headline?
- New headlines take quite a while to create and get them right.
- It’s just about impossible to create new headlines that are effective.
- Why not use a formula? Copy writers have been doing it forever.
- A headline that worked in the past, works today and in the future.
- This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be creative.
- Learn to modify the formulas to create attention grabbing headlines.
- Soon you’ll begin to write them off the top of your head, using the formulas for inspiration.
Jeff Goins over at GoinsWriter.com has created this simple headline-writing formula:
Sometimes you just need a little help in creating that killer headline. On those days, when you just can’t find the right combination of words, take a look at these other tools for a little assistance.
Portent’s Content Idea Generator – Toss it your keywords and watch the great headline suggestions appear.
CoSchedule’s Blog Post Analyzer – Analyzes and gives you suggestions on how to improve your headline.
Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator – Generates a week’s worth of blog post titles with the words you enter.
Inbound Now’s Blog Title Idea Generator – Cool tool that creates blog title formula’s to use.
Headlines are your “first impression” of your article and the most important part of it. Using the resources above should help you get your article read. Do you know of other tools for creating headlines? Share them with us in the comments below.