Riddle me this: I am something. If you dress me up fine and make me as attractive as ever, I would bring you all the blog readers that you desire. But if you dress me up terribly or pay no attention to my physical appearance, I just might steal from you the blog readers that you have already.
What am I?
Go on and think. I’ll wait.
If you still haven’t figured out the answer yet, it’s a headline.
Are you surprised?… Well, don’t be.
Many years ago, long before the internet, people would usually skim through an article before deciding whether or not to read that article. But in today’s world, people have an attention span that’s shorter than that of a goldfish.
What with the collosal amount of information — notifications, social media posts, emails, blog articles, websites, books, and local newspapers — that people have to digest daily, they now skim through only a headline, and based on that information alone, decide whether or not to read the article.
(One can say that they judge articles by their headlines.)
According to Copyblogger, eight out of ten people will read your headline, but only two out of ten will read the rest of your article. This goes to show just how essential a headline is to you as a blogger who wishes to attract new readers and keep your old readers constantly engaged with your juicy content.
If you use terrible or generic headlines for your blog articles, no matter how interesting your content is, you will fail to attract new readers. On the other hand, using strong, captivating headlines will intrigue your readers, and, like a magnet, pull them in to get some more of that useful and interesting information that you’re offering them. Another major reason you should use catchy headlines is that it is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Now, how do you tell a generic headline from a catchy headline?
Top Qualities of a Catchy Headline
A headline is said to be catchy if it has the following qualities:
1. It is clear and simple.
2. It piques the interest and attention of your readers.
3. It matches the content of the article.
4. It is intriguing and believable.
Let’s say, for instance, that you want to write an article that will teach your readers how to write catchy headlines; I can recommend some interesting headlines that will definitely intrigue anyone who sees them:
- The Kind of Headlines That Attracts Readers
- 8 Quick and Easy Tricks for Writing Strong Headlines
- How to Write Catchy Headlines
- How to Write Catchy Headlines That Will Attract More Readers
- Why You Should Use Catchy Headlines for Your Blog Posts
- Why Should You Care About Your Headlines?
Which one of these headlines intrigues you the most? For me, it’s #1, #4, and #6. I know that’s more than one, but it’s so hard to choose. How about you, though? Which one intrigues you the most? Can you tell why it has that special effect on you?
Well, let’s take a close look at the headlines above. The first headline is simple, short, and straight to the point — that’s a basic quality for good headlines. The second headline uses catchy keywords (quick and easy) that assures your readers that whatever you’re teaching them isn’t going to be difficult to learn.
The third and fourth headline appeals to your readers’ curiosity for knowledge. But the latter will appeal more to your readers because, unlike the former, it is promising them something valuable.
The last two headlines appeal to your readers’ curiosity for knowledge AND gives them reasons why they should care about their choice of headlines and how it affects them as bloggers or writers.
As you can see, the best headlines are the ones that are simple, straightforward, captivating, and appealing — for obvious reasons.
Mastering the art of crafting strong and appealing headlines might take you some time. And even after you learn how to do it, you might still spend as long as an hour or two trying to come up with the perfect headline. Know that this is normal — I often spend a whole day making a long list of headlines before deciding on which one to use.
At this juncture, I’m assuming the question on your mind is…
How Do I Write Catchy Headlines?
Well, not to worry, my friend. I’ve got you covered. Here are seven simple tips and tricks to help you craft appealing headlines henceforth:
1. Keep it short, simple, and straight to the point.
I like to use headlines that are between five and fifteen words for my blog posts. I do this because I’ve realised that lengthy headlines are usually ambiguous; also, I’ve discovered that many people find lengthy headlines unappealing.
However, you should know that using short headlines isn’t enough to attract more readers to your blog. You also have to make your headlines simple (by using simple words, not complex words) and straight to the point. And when I say “straight to the point”, I mean you should use headlines that give your readers a clear picture of what they’re going to see in the rest of your article.
2. Use catchy keywords.
Catchy keywords, especially when they are adjectives and adverbs, can do wonders when it comes to creating captivating headlines.
Have a look at these two headlines for instance:
- How to Edit Your Writing
- 5 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing More Powerful
Which one appeals to you more? I’m certain it’s the second headline and the reason is very obvious — the second headline uses catchy words that strongly appeal to anyone who sees them. Here are some other examples of catchy keywords you can use when writing your headlines:
Image credit: Flothemes.com
A word of advice: do not use catchy keywords to trick people into reading a boring article. This will only tarnish your reputation and credibility as a blogger and/or writer.
3. Appeal to your readers’ lust for knowledge (How-To posts).
People love learning new things, especially when it’s a topic or skill that they’re interested in. So it’s not surprising that how-to posts are one of the most read posts today.
Before you can appeal to your readers’ lust for knowledge, you must know their needs and problems. It is when you know this that you can think of creating posts that will satisfy their needs and solve their problems.
The best kind of posts that teach people how to do something is the “How To” post. If you’ve ever visited WikiHow, a website that teaches its readers how to do anything, you would have noticed that all their posts start with “How to…”.
This isn’t so surprising. As is often the case, a “How To” headline will excite people with the thought that they’re going to learn something new; it will also convince them to read the rest of the article, even if they doubt that they need the knowledge or information your article is promising.
So, with this in mind, when you’re writing an article that teaches people how to do anything, use a how-to headline. It easily piques the interest of most readers.
4. Start with Why.
Sometimes, telling people how to do something isn’t enough to convince them to read your article. Some people are so stubborn, until you tell them why they should do that thing you’re teaching them how to do, they won’t care about you or what you have to say.
So give them a reason! Explain to them why they should use strong headlines for their articles, or why they should have a blogging schedule, or why they shouldn’t skip their breakfast. People love asking why… Tell them why.
5. Promise your readers something valuable.
Who doesn’t love to be promised something valuable? A headline that makes a promise to your readers will appeal to them nearly as much as oxygen appeals to you. The trick here is to make your promise believable and to make sure that your article fulfills that promise.
I run away from headlines such as “Make ₦200,000 In Less Than 24 Hours” because they are too good to be true, so I tend to see them as a scam. No matter how exciting the thought of making that much money in less than a day is, because it’s unbelievable, few people will read the rest of that article.
A good example of a headline that promises the readers something valuable and believable is the headline of this blog post you’re now reading.
6. Ask an important question (then answer it).
Should I upgrade to a self-hosted site this year? When is the right time to upgrade to a self-hosted site? Do I even need to upgrade to a self-hosted site? What are the pros and cons of upgrading to a self-hosted site?
These are some of the questions I ask myself every now and again. Fortunately for me, I have found the answers to some of these questions, and it’s all thanks to those bloggers who answered these questions in their blog posts.
We all have many questions whose answers we constantly seek. We would do anything to find the answers to these questions, even if it means volunteering to wash our neighbours’ cars every morning for a whole year!
Recognise some of these questions and write a good number of blog posts that give your readers detailed answers to the questions. Your readers will thank you.
7. Use numbers for lists.
There is something about using numbers in headlines. I couldn’t find any scientific research or case study to back up this claim, but using numbers in your headline will invite people to read your articles more effectively than other types of headlines. Many writers, bloggers, and readers would agree.
Again, I don’t know why numbers have this special effect on the average reader (I bet it’s psychological); however, I advise you to use it to your advantage.
Whenever you’re making a list, use a combination of numbers and catchy keywords (and maybe a valuable promise) to intrigue your readers and make them badly want to read the rest of your article. This will likely earn you more clicks and traffic than would be the case if you used another kind of headline.
Try these formulas
- Number + Adjective + Noun + Valuable Promise (e.g. 7 simple tips to write catchy headlines that will attract more readers.)
- How to do something (e.g. How to beat writer’s block)
- Why… (e.g. Why does grammar matter in your writing?)
- Top 10 lists (e.g. 10 reasons you should start blogging today.)
Before your readers can think of reading the body of your blog post, you must first enchant them with a captivating introductory paragraph.
Likewise, before anyone can think of reading the first sentence of your post, you must try your hardest to win their heart with a strong headline. So, in essence, your headline will nearly always be the deciding factor for most of your readers. Which is why I advise you not to be like those bloggers who fail to realise how important a headline is and, as a result, write weak and generic headlines.
Be a smart blogger instead. Create interesting content with catchy headlines to match, then publish your articles with confidence and sit back to reap the fruits of your labour.
What tricks and formulas do you use when writing your headlines? Please share in the comments.