1) Great headlines and
2) Great leads (the first paragraph of your post)
We’ll tackle headlines today and discuss how to write attention grabbing leads next week.
If you look around the web, you’ll see that the top blogs obsess over headlines.
There’s a method to this madness. You see, attention is now worth more than gold. Attention is scarce. It’s easy to catch but devilishly hard to hold. If you write a great headline, then you will get 5 minutes to offer an idea, promote a product, or capture a loyal reader. Headlines written as an afterthought fail to attract attention, resigning their posts to obscurity.
You don’t have to like it, but this is how blogging works.
Whenever a blogger asks me to review their blog, I always look at their headlines first. 100% of the time, I kid you not, poor-performing blogs have poor headlines.
If you are looking for an “easy” way to take your blog to the next level, then get good at headline writing and read the rest of this post…
Why Great Headlines Work
Headlines are designed to communicate a benefit to your reader. The most powerful headlines target a reader’s need with a succinct benefit statement.
Catch Trophy Bass Without Spending a Dime on a Single Lure.
As a fisherman, I can’t help but read this post. The headline has an explicit benefit – I can catch fish and save money. It also adds in a little fame (trophy bass) and curiosity (can you fish for bass without a lure?).
Erase Arthritis Pain with a Refreshing and Easy-to-Make Smoothie
The benefit is easy: to stop (erase) arthritis pain. However, this example goes one step further by promising an almost too-good-to-be-true” curiosity element (can arthritis pain be cured with a smoothie?)
Both headline examples combine key elements that power eye-catching headlines:
Clear Picture of the End Benefit
Key benefits almost always focus on 1) saving money, 2) making money, 3) improving health, 4) love, 5) fame, 6) beauty, or 7) saving time.
The best headlines create curiosity and intellectual tension. For a reader, your headline should almost “force” them to continue reading to satisfy their curiosity.
Visual Power Words
Headlines require words that yank at your imagination and create an almost physical reaction. For example, try this headline on for size:
7 Secrets to Heart-Pounding Sex that Will Leave You Flustered for Days
I bet an image immediately sprang to mind, right? Power words work overtime in the minds of your readers. Use them often.
Reliable Headline Formulas
Look around the web, and you will see certain types of headlines constantly pop up.
- “How-To” – Easy to write and almost always a great performer.
- “The Secret” – This headline aims straight for the curiosity jugular. Who doesn’t want to know a secret?
- “7 Ways to” (the List Post) – The list post headline is the Swiss army knife of the blog writing world. List posts are easy to digest and consistently perform well.
- The Question – Headlines with questions pull readers in when they try to mentally offer an answer. They work best with open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.
I encourage you to review these headline types and see how you can use them.
However, don’t overuse them. A blog filled with list headlines becomes boring and predictable, the twin horseman of doom for blogs. Once you are comfortable with a certain type, move on and experiment with others. This will keep your blog topics fresh and inviting.
Writing great headlines is a skill anyone can learn
And like all skills, you’ll get better with practice. I normally write 5-10 headline ideas for every blog post. I do this for the practice and the excitement of finding a headline that jumps off the page!
If you want to get good quick, spend the next 30 days writing multiple headlines for each post. In fact, start your post with writing 2-3 headlines. This ritual will improve the quality of the post by focusing you on your topic’s key benefit. You’ll find that readers will immediately reward your diligence with more comments, retweets, and likes.
What are your questions about writing headlines? Where are you stuck? Leave a comment with your questions and we’ll work through this one together.
P.S. If you would like me to take a look at your blog and give you a 10-Point plan on how to improve it – including the headlines then check out my Spectacular Blog Review service