This is a guest article by Peter Lee. If you want to submit a guest article of your own be sure to read the guest article guidelines.
The simple truth is, your content may very well be the next best since sliced bread, but if you don’t have a strong headline that will get the readers to click on it and read the rest, you don’t really have anything. Yes, you have the finished article into which you have put your heart and soul, but if the end result is almost exactly the same as not having written anything at all, what’s the difference?
Why Are Headlines Such a Big Deal?
Now, this number varies from place to place, but on average, about 80% of the people will only read the headline, while the rest will take their time and read the actual content behind it. That is why a headline to your article is like a window to your shop. You don’t just want people to take a look at it and keep on walking. You want them to stop, peer through the glass to see what’s inside, and ultimately, come inside the store.
How to Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines?
First of all, imagine your shop is on street next to all the other stores. Why should the customer choose yours? More importantly, what should you do to stand out? Well, having a different window is a good place to start. It’s exactly the same with your headline.
- Headlines Need to Be Original – The definition of “original” is pretty wide, so you need to stick to what will work in a specific context. So, your headlines needs to be original and make sense at the same time. If you can, you can always try and make it intriguing, or even provocative and controversial, within certain boundaries.
That is a tall order, for just one sentence, so maybe you should check out this great post on how to make your writing more concise.
- Headlines Need to Be Specific – Since we are using a store as an example, I can’t help but recall the story about three tailors. All three had stores in the same street, and all three provided pretty much the same services.
One day, the first tailor decided to put up a sign saying “The best tailor in the world”. So, the people flocked to his store. But, it wasn’t long before the second tailor came up with a similar idea and put up a sign saying “The best tailor in the city”. People then started coming to his store.
The third tailor thought long and hard, and then he put up a sign saying “The best tailor in the street”. This example wonderfully illustrates the importance of having a really specific headline. For instance, let’s analyze a possible headline “7 Amazing Hacks to Make Your Life Better”. It start off well, but then it tries to cover too much ground. Try and focus on the specific benefit for the reader.
- Headlines Need to Have an Element of Urgency – This may not always be possible, as some topics don’t lend themselves to urgency very well, but where you can, try and convince your readers that they are missing out on something really great by not reading your post.
For example, a headline “Are You Sick and Tired of People Not Clicking on Your Headlines?” would probably have lots of people clicking on it, because it indicates a solution to a specific problem that can be solved quickly.
- Headlines Need to Provide Something of Value for the Reader – As I’ve said before, it may not be possible to introduce urgency, and it may not even be possible to be completely original every time, but you should at least aim to create headlines that are specific and useful. A headline like “6 Ultimate Tips That Will Make You the Smartest Person in the Room” has a strong start, because the word “ultimate”, along with a number next to it, carries a lot of weight.
You also have a specific benefit of being the smartest person in the room, which is something that everyone wants. Now, creating the content to go along with that headline is hard, but that’s a topic for another article.
Writing brilliant and click-worthy headlines is not rocket science, but it does require a delicate touch and some creativity. First and foremost, vague statements won’t get you very far.
Your headline should advertise the content inside the article as valuable and as a possible solution to a problem. Once you have value and specifics covered, you can build on that by making it original and more urgent, if there is room for it. That’s all there is to it!
Peter Lee is a former Berkeley student. He is currently writing for essays.scholaradvisor.com writing company. Peter’s main expertise is formal advice on writing productivity.