Although all of the content published on web articles and blog posts should be engaging, the most often overlooked first step in getting readers interested is by using headlines. Approximately 80% of readers will take a glance at your headlines, but only 20% of them will actually click on the article to read the rest. In just a few words, you have the power to make your content sound interesting—to “hook” your reader. Or, you have the ability to push them away. This means that, even though there are fewer words, most content writers probably need to spend more time thinking about their headlines than they actually do. It’s not a waste of time. It’s a way to get the browser to become a reader. So when it comes to headlines, let's look at what constitutes the difference between whether potential readers will Click It or Skip It. Here are some headline writing tips that can turn your browsers into readers:
Don’t Use Your Working Title.
Usually, your first thought about an article will fall more along the lines of functional rather than catchy. Your working title should almost never be your final title, unless you happened to be struck with a rare moment of instant brilliance. What might start out as “Ways to Write Good Headlines” might turn into “Proven Formula: Use Headlines to Convert Browsers into Readers—Every Time”.
Create Interest by Asking Questions.
Your blog or website visitors have questions. If your headline indicates that you have answers to the same questions they are asking, then you’re likely to turn that into readership.
Example: Are You Losing Conversions Because of Lazy Headlines?
Offer Immediate Value.
Do’s and Don’ts are a great way to engage readers by identifying the take-away from the start. Create a sense of urgency because readers who are looking for actionable items want to know exactly what to do or what to avoid. Make sure items are easy to scan so the reader can brush past the ones that are already being practiced, while searching for a nugget to act on.
Example: 7 Deadly Pitfalls to Avoid When Writing Headlines
A headline is bait to show the reader that they want to know more. This one can be tricky because it is important to earn a reader’s trust without making them feel duped. This means that you must actually tell them something in your article that is not common knowledge or, at the very least, give them a super-fresh spin on a topic. Otherwise it will feel like a bait-and-switch and you’ll not be considered a trusted resource in the future.
Example: 8 Lies the Medical Industry Has Been Telling You
Tantalize with Lists and Numbers.
Today’s readers are often looking for a quick read that will be broken down into actions, rather than having to weed through giant paragraphs of prose. Headlines that include numbers of tips or lists ensure the reader that the content will be easily browse-able to find something useful.
Example: 17 Must-Know Headline Tips for Turning Browsers into Readers
Appeal to Reader Desires.
Understanding what you reader wants allows you to dangle that carrot in front of them to earn a click. The concept is pretty simple. You offer something they want in your headline, they reward you with a click. And (hopefully) the relationship develops from there.
Example: 11 Simple Steps to Building a No-Fail Inbound Marketing Plan
If you can find out what causes your readers to lose sleep, then offer ways to fix it—you’ll be their hero! Consider what solutions you may have for someone who is searching for answer in the middle of the night. Write your headlines to address that issue.
Example: How to Travel Overseas Confidently and Without Fear
Appeal to Emotions.
Although this should be practiced carefully as to not become manipulative or over-dramatic, the emotions of pleasure and pain may be helpful in drawing in readers. Headlines may be used to evoke caution by steering clear of a problem, or encouraging by offering something the reader wants.
Example: Top 10 Reasons Businesses Fail in the First Year
Make Promises for Success.
Even if it is just a small success like saving a few minutes of time or making a recipe taste a bit better, offering a “prize” makes the reader feel like the time spent on the article will be worth it if.
Example: How to Save $100 per Month without Changing Your Life
Grabbing a reader’s attention with valuable titles has the power to turn your website from something passable to something meaningful, memorable—and ultimately more profitable!