This note is about creating interesting headlines and titles. Especially for content marketing.
Headline is the most important part of any content. Content headline is usually the first and last thing people see, so it must be perfect. More about creating headlines in copywriting notes.
Best way to learn to make good headlines is by making bad headlines. Write 25 headlines for each and every article you publish.
Basics of a good headline:
- Don't give it all in the headline.
- Don't sexualize your headline.
- Don't make people think.
- Don't form an opinion for the user, allow them to do it.
- Don't be too vague.
- Don't be too specific.
- Always be descriptive. If the headline has no relation to the content, it will just feel wrong.
# bad, too vague Mitt Romeny Says Something Bad, Again. # bad, too specific Mitt Romeny Says "I Want The Middle Class To Be Tied". # good You Will Not Believe What Mitt Wants To Do To You. # bad, too clever Remember Planet of The Apes? It is Closer To Reality Than You Think. # good 2 Monkeys Were Paid Unequally; See What Happens Next.
Remember your target audience. Think if a middle aged woman would be interested in the headline. Women are harder to please than men.
Short headlines are better than the longer ones. Long headlines cause people to skip them and Google only shows roughly 57 characters of your headline on search results.
Use words that have strong emotional anchors. These power words pop up between regular text. Note that they help you to get people read the title, not to click the link.
Sex, Lies, Tips, Tricks, Taxes, Bloodbath, Cannibal, Brilliant, Great, Best, Smart, Commanding, Attention, Dangerous, Dying, Crippling, Dumb, Free, Because, Instantly, New Tommi (person's real name)
Use rare but understandable words. Rare words spark interest when noticed, but the words should be common enough that your target audience knows what they mean.
Enchanting, Fascinating, Radiating, Plentiful, Upscale, Lush
Consider adding a keyword to the headline to boost search engine visibility. Remember that Google bolds the words people search by on the search results.
Car, Volvo, Accounting, Server hosting
Consider headlines with two parts.
Move Over, Barbie - You're Obsolete. Tea Party Decided To Pick A Fight With A President. It Didn't Go So Well. Mitt Romney Accidentally Confronts A Gay Veteran; Awesomeness Ensues. Bully Calls News Anchor Fat, News Anchor Destroys Him On Live TV.
Use tools when creating headlines. More useful if you are writing a heading for content.
http://topsy.com/ -> Write your topic -> Select all time. http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/ -> Over 50% should be a good headline
Use a picture with the headline. Headlines can be accompanied with a picture in many occasions. Never use the company logo as the headline picture. Here is a list of good pictures types.
Half and Half Image ($ vs €) Images With A Big and Clear Text Popular Symbols and Culture Icons (Nemo Fish) Obviously A Screenshot (screenshot of a YouTube video) Curiosity Centric (a knee in the middle) PG-13 (woman with little clothes but not naked) Interesting Celebrity Image Weird Face, Close Up Cute Animals Cute Human Kid With A Weird Face
Headline templates, in the order of effectiveness:
# 1. Lists # Add a few interesting adjectives to boost the effect. Top <X> <CATEGORY> <X> Best <CATEGORY> <X> Great Ways To <SOMETHING> <X> Unbelievable Ways To <SOMETHING> <X> Tricks For <SOMETHING> <X> Tips For <SOMETHING> <X> Ways To <SOMETHING> <X> Things You Must Do After <SOMETHING> <X> Things You Must Do Before <SOMETHING> <X> <SOMETHING> Rules To Live And Die By. # 2. Relevancy # Using "You", "Your" etc. Free Way To <SOMETHING> You Can <DO_SOMETHING> To <SOMETHING> If You <EMOTION> Your <THING_A>, <DO_THING_B>. Today. # 3. Guides How To <SOMETHING_READER_WANTS_TO_LEARN> How To <SOMETHING_READER_WANTS_TO_LEARN> In <TIME_SPAN> How <SOMETHING_READER_WANTS_TO_LEARN> Really Works DIY <SOMETHING_READER_WANTS_TO_DO> # 4. Arguments, Experiences and Promises. # Leverage behavior, beliefs, or belongings, # but never go into politics, race or religion. Why <THING_A> Changed <THING_B> Why <THING_A> Influenced <THING_B> Why <THING_A> Revolutionized <THING_B> Why <THING_A> Suffocated <THING_B> Why <THING_A> Messed Up <THING_B> How <THING_A> Changed <THING_B> How <THING_A> Influenced <THING_B> How <THING_A> Revolutionized <THING_B> How <THING_A> Suffocated <THING_B> How <THING_A> Messed Up <THING_B> Why <SOMETHING> Is <THE_WAY_IT_IS> Why I Hate <SOMETHING> Why <THING_A> Is The Key To <THING_B> Why I Don't Do <SOMETHING> <THING_A> Is Going To Make <THING_B> Obsolete This One Minute <THING> Will Teach You More than a Lifetime in <THING> # 5. Curiosity The <WHAT_IT_IS> Every <WHO_IS_IT_TARGETED> Needs Secrets Of <SOMETHING> <SOMETHING> That No One Talks About Tricks For <SOMETHING> Tips For <SOMETHING> Ever wonder how you can <DESIRABLE_OUTCOME> with <A_NEW_THING>? There's a way for you to <DESIRABLE_OUTCOME> with this <A_NEW_THING>. The key to <DESIRABLE_OUTCOME> is to make sure you use <A_NEW_THING>. # 6. Popularity Interview with <CELEBRITY>: <SUBTITLE> <CELEBRITY>'s Tools For <SOMETHING> <CELEBRITY>'s Guide To <SOMETHING> <SOMETHING> Of <BRAND> <BRAND> Vs. <BRAND> How <BRAND> Does <SOMETHING>
Example headlines, in the order of effectiveness:
# 1. Lists Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure? 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living Five Familiar Skin Troubles Six Types of Investor — Which Group Are You In? How to Give Your Children Extra Iron — These 3 Delicious Ways Free Book Tells You 12 Secrets of Better Lawn Care 76 Reasons Why It Would Have Paid You to Answer Our Ad a Few Months Ago 7 Things You Must Do After Writing a Blog Post 3 Things You Must Do After Every Date 10 Lessons I Learned in 2011 7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started 12 Things I Would Do If I Were Starting From Scratch 5 Things You Can Do To Write Better Headlines # 2. Relevancy 4 Reasons You Should Wash Your Hair Every Day 8 Things Every Mom Says To Her Kids # 3. Guides How to Get 1,200 Facebook Likes in 3 Days How to Lose 12 Pounds in 7 Days # 4. Arguments and Experiences Why Steve Jobs Never Listened to His Customers My Journey To The #1 Spot in Google # 5. Curiosity Weight Loss Secrets That No One Talks About Dating Advice That No One Talks About # 6. Popularity The Steve Job's Guide to Time Management
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