The headline makes your readers decide to read or pass over your blog post. The headline also makes people share it or leave it. That’s how important it is. More than 80% read headlines. Only 20% go on to read the article.
Good blog content has every sentence working effectively so that the reader continues to the next sentence, and the next sentence and so on. Your headline is your first sentence. It’s the commando hook your whole post dangles from!
That’s a lot of pressure for something just 5-12 words long, so you have to accept that it’s not easy to write headlines. I present tips for fast and easy headline creation here, but you still have to pick the words and the angle your blog post will take.
As much as half of the time copywriters spend on creating advertisements and other related marketing content goes to crafting headlines. So don’t get frustrated. Keep rearranging and changing words until you feel that YES! THIS IS IT!
The Ultimate Headline Formula
Jeff Goins and Neil Patel both name this the ‘ultimate’ headline mix.
They might have different names for the parts, but it’s the same headline you see so often, because it absolutely works. Neil Patel defines the ‘rationale’ as how the blog post’s value is delivered: reasons, ways, secrets.
Look at my own headline. You have a number (5), an adjective (Magnetic), a keyword (Headlines), a rationale (Secrets), and the promise (fast without a headache!)
Other effective formulas are How-To’s, list posts and Reasons Why, as you would see from my last post about blog templates that work. Look at your favorite blogs, and look at their most popular posts. You’d notice all of them have headlines that employ the following secrets.
1. Promise Something– Solve A Problem
Looking at my headline again, the “objection” or problem is the slowness and the headache in writing headlines. Time always seems to slow down when you’re doing something difficult, and the pressure is synonymous to a headache, even when the headline creation doesn’t literally produce a pain pulsing between or behind your eyes.
Why it works: It means you know and you’ve found a solution. It’s also sympathetic, and readers would read and share it because it makes them look smart and they would even tag friends who do struggle with the ‘objection’ you presented.
How to make it work: Think of your subject and your readers together. What do your readers struggle with when it comes to this subject? What would they want in relation to this subject?
Let’s look at my headline again. What if I wrote it like this:
- 5 Tips on Writing Killer Headlines
- 5 Secrets on Writing Magnetic Headlines That Work!
Both were my initial titles. But they didn’t connect and resonate with readers as much. Those promises are nothing. “Killer Headlines” and “Magnetic Headlines That Work” are just empty words. But add a promise, and I show, not tell, that I’ve tried these and they really work!
2. Use Numbers– Big Numbers If You Can!
People love list posts. We have the numbers to prove it, from Conductor’s survey.
Why it works: Readers know what to expect going in. List posts are also the highest ranking in headline clarity. It’s a straight-up presentation. And readers know from the get-go that they’ll get items they can easily digest, rather than paragraphs they’d have to parse for the best takeaways.
How to make it work: The more you list, the better the blog post looks, and the more value readers would give to the blog post. It shows you really did your research, and that your list is complete and comprehensive.
Compare these two:
- 10 10-minute Dishes You Can Whip Up for Extra Guests This Season
- 100 10-minute Dishes You Can Whip Up for Extra Guests This Season
You would read and share the 100, wouldn’t you? It probably has entrees, soups, desserts, and plenty of choices for every taste!
But that is if you really can expand on your list! Don’t repeat things just so you can list more. I’ve read ‘guides’ with huge numbers, only to see redundant content in those numbers. Readers are intelligent, and they’d only share intelligent content.
3. “Mistakes” You Should Avoid
I bet your eyes stuck to this part, didn’t they? This is not about mistakes in headline writing. Combining numbers + “mistakes” + a promise = another top headline formula.
Why it works: None of us want to learn from our own mistakes if we can learn from others’ instead! Mistakes waste time and resources.
How to make it work: Think of a subject your readers care about. What would they NOT want to mess up? You can focus on ONE mistake (a “why”, case study, or how-to post), or you can write about several (a list post).
4. Promise Something Unique
Why didn’t I include this in the first secret of promising something and solving a problem? I felt I had to talk about “numbers” and “mistakes” first. A unique promise can turn your “number” or “mistake” formula into a killer headline.
Why it works: Reader interest is piqued to see if you really can deliver on your promise. And if you amaze them with your technique or shortcut, they’ll want to share it!
How to make it work: Unique promises usually hinge on time deadlines, on something desired or necessary.
- 100 10-minute Dishes You Can Whip Up for Extra Guests This Season
- 5 Secrets to Writing Magnetic Headlines in 2 Minutes!
In the headlines above, there IS a necessity to whip up something fast when extra guests arrive. You want to be ready, you want to be a good hostess with no guest going hungry.
Creating a headline fast is a desired unique benefit. For a copywriter or blog writer chasing a deadline, that’s a godsend!
Are they audacious? They’re not claims on losing # of pounds in # of days, but they are a bit audacious! After all, you’d probably spend minutes prepping ingredients beforehand. And you really can’t become a headline master overnight. To become master enough that you can write one in 2 minutes, it takes a lot of doing, although these tips will push you ahead of your peers!
5. Keep It “Simple!”
Simple is the most powerful adjective. Some might argue that it’s not “interesting.” Sure, you should also use interesting adjectives like absolute, incredible, magical, essential, fun… but simple takes the crown.
I wanted to use ‘Secrets’ but I also loved this version of my title:
5 Simple Ways to Write Magnetic Headlines Fast Without the Headache!
Why it works: “Simple” is a promise in itself. No complicated steps involved. It’s implied that beginners or non-professionals could easily accomplish it. It would be fast because it’s easy and effortless (effective alternates for ‘simple!’)
How to make it work: Pair it with a problem that has always seemed so intimidating to your readers. With the word ‘simple’, you tame the beast, so to speak.
- 5 Simple Techniques to Decorate Your Living Room Like Martha Stewart
- 10 Simple Tricks to Talk to Your Child About Sexuality
- 25 Simple Formulas for Resignation Letters That Don’t Burn Bridges
While they can do a lot, note that blog post headlines can only do so much without an audience. Build your audience first. You need them to spread your blog posts! It also depends on your topic or niche. Some are hot, some are only hot to a select few. Use paid ads to get your blog post seen, and to reach those select few, if you need to!
The takeaway: For a quick, magnetic headline, use one or all of the following traits:
- present a problem and promise to solve it
- promise something audacious
- keep things ‘simple’
- steer your readers away from ‘mistakes’
- use numbers (big ones if applicable)
What type of headline has done well for you? Which is your favorite?