The reason news media do headlines so well is simple: they write it at the end of the process, not at the beginning. They know the story.
In the same vein, never write your blog headline until you have typed the last full stop on your post.
Here are the basic blog headline rules:
Use short, active words – A punchy headline grabs the attention. Cut out unnecessary words, especially adverbs.
It must contain a verb – Making the headline active means using a verb, even if that verb’s ‘is’.
Use figures – Don’t write them out as words. Studies have also shown that using figures in a headline makes it more attractive to the reader. Round monetary figures up, or down.
Make it accurate – Don’t write a sensational but inaccurate headline to suck readers into the post. They’ll feel cheated.
Reflect your content – Throwing in a celebrity name to the headline, for example, without backing that up in the post will backfire on you.
Don’t use tortuous puns – No matter how tempted you feel, just don’t do it. This isn’t about showing how cleverly you can write, it’s about communicating with your target audience.
Don’t over-use exclamation marks – They are called ‘screamers’ in newsrooms because they are often over-used to scream out content.
Read it aloud – If it sounds convoluted, or ridiculous, delete and start again. If you can’t say it easily, they won’t read it easily.
Will it appeal to your target audience? – Ask yourself how, and why they would read on. Think about their problems, how they like to spend their time when you’re making this decision.
Don’t forget SEO: Search engine optimisation is still very important in blog headlines and your keyword research should help you. Which words appeal to your ideal customers and how can you incorporate them in an organic way?
Some headline power words: There are some words which people find innately attractive. “Discover”, “Find”, and “Secrets” arouse our curiosity and make us want to find out more.
“Powerful”, “effective”, and “hacks” make us feel the content we’re about to read is hitting our usefulness sweet spot and so does the word “useful”.
Too busy to blog yourself? Drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.