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When you buy a magazine or newspaper, do you read through each page from top to bottom, taking in every word? Most people don’t. It’s more likely that you flick through the pages, scanning headlines and occasionally stopping to read an article in more depth when a headline catches your eye.
Journalists take a long time thinking up the perfect headlines that will grab the attention of their readers while still summing up what the article is about. When you write blogs for your business, you need to think like a journalist. Headlines are just as important (if not more important) to online content than they are for offline publications.
Most people online have a very short attention span. It has become uncommon for someone to stop and read a whole article. Chances are you’re not even reading what I’m saying word for word – you’re just skimming from one subheading to the next, maybe stopping to read any parts that look more important.
Does the perfect headline exist?
So, you need to take the time to write perfect titles for your blogs – these are your headlines. But, is there such thing as a perfect headline? No, unfortunately not. What appeals to one reader might not appeal to the next. And a certain style of writing titles might not suit you as a writer.
Still, there are lots of formulas that you can follow to pursue that “perfect” headline. Copywriting experts have spent a lot of time writing blog titles and researching what makes them most effective – what makes people click a link and read the blog.
I’ve pulled together some of these formulas to help you master your blog title writing skills.
The best formulas for writing effective headlines
Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
This formula comes from Jeff Goins, and is simple but effective. It really lets people know what to expect from the article, rather than a clickbait headline that overpromises and underdelivers.
The keyword lets you know the topic of the article, the promise tells you how you’ll benefit from reading it, i.e. what you’ll gain, and being specific with numbers gives you an idea of how much the article will deliver. While the adjective is there to entice the reader and grab their attention.
Try it out for yourself. You can play around with the order to get different variations.
[Do Something Desirable] Like [an Expert] Without [Something Expected & Undesirable]
This Copyhackers headline formula is a more advanced version of the classic “Be Like Mike” campaign from Gatorade. In this promotional tagline, you are invited to do something like a professional basketball player who you may admire. The headline formula takes this a step further, by also telling you how to avoid any negative consequences of doing this thing like a pro.
So, you might teach your readers “How to write headlines like Copyhackers without spending all your money.” Bringing an expert or professional into your headline adds an extra element of authority to your content.
[Adjective] & [Adjective] [What You Are / SEO Keyword Phrase] That Will [Highly Desirable Promise of Results]
This is what Unbounce call the Promise-Based SEO Headline. It explicitly includes your SEO keyword phrase to help your blog show up in search results for its focus topic. It’s not just keyword fodder, though. The adjectives at the beginning serve to get the reader interested, while the promise of results at the end makes them want to click to earn something desirable from reading the article.
For example – “New and exclusive headline writing tips that will get you more blog traffic”
This headline writing formula will really make your blog posts shine (I’m hilarious, I know!). This acronym can be found in a Kissmetrics blog and stands for:
Demonstrating how your blog post will help and entertain the reader gives them a reason to click and read it. The specificity tells the reader exactly what to expect – which is why numbers have been a running theme throughout these formulas.
Putting a sense of urgency and immediacy in your headlines will stop your audience from delaying in reading your article. Chances are if they don’t click it right away, they won’t click it at all.
Finally, the newsworthiness in your headline shows your audience that this article is something new and exciting, not something that they’ve already seen somewhere else.
Do you have a formula or process you follow when writing blog titles or are they unique every time?
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