If you take a look at a high-end magazine, a popular website or an A list blog then you’ve probably realized that their headlines almost always tend to jump out at you and grab your attention.
They are often hard to ignore, convey strong emotion and are great at peaking your interest to read further.
Whether you end up offended, curious or questioning what the author is talking he’s got you hooked.
You find yourself reading further into the content trying to get an answer to the new question you asked yourself, and it all came from the title of his/her headline.
Let’s just image for a second that you picked up a magazine with boring images and headlines that made you yawn.
How many pages would you consider reading?
How many headlines would you even bother looking at before considering to put the magazine back on its rack?
That’s the same problem many bloggers and small businesses face when they don’t take the time to write compelling headlines.
A good headline contains several strong components
Good headlines convey strong emotion – It isn’t enough to just look good it has to make the reader feel something.
Either happy, sad, worried, curious or some other type of strong emotion.
Good headlines cause your readers to ask questions – If your reader stops to ask themselves a question about your headline it will most likely cause them to become curious and read further in search of an answer to their question.
Good headlines tell your reader what they want (or don’t want) to hear – Your headline should be designed to entertain what your audience is most interested in.
A burning question, an irrational passion or a debilitating fear can be a great basis to form your headline around.
Good headlines tell a story – Your reader should understand what your content is about simply by reading your headline and feel like they are being treated to a great story.
Just like when you were a kid.
Examples of a good headline
- Why your headline sucks!
- How I made $5000 in three days!
- What to do when your marketing your ass of and still not getting results!
- 5 Reasons no one is signing up for your email newsletter and how to fix it.
- How social media killed bill.
- The four-hour work week.
Each example relates to the audience and creates an emotional response that is hard to ignore.
It causes them to become curious and ask questions, and tells them that they will gain the information they are craving by reading further.
How to find great headlines
Remember to use the guidelines I described earlier to help you come up with a good headline.
One common method popular bloggers and magazines use to find a good headline is called “a swipe file”.
A swipe file is simply a list of headlines that have been proven to convert a browser (visitor) into a reader.
By reusing or editing highly converting headlines you can maximize the likelihood that your visitors will read your content.
An easy way to get used to what a great headline looks like is by visiting your favorite blog and seeing which headlines received the most traffic and/or comments, or by visiting the website of your favorite magazine and seeing which articles made the headlines.
These types of websites have already done their research, gone through the trial and error process, and found highly effective headlines.
Saving and repurposing these headlines for posts and articles that you plan on writing in the future will help you take the guess-work out of creating a compelling headline that converts.
If you aren’t fond of using this method you can always come up with your own headlines, but remember to convey strong emotion and get your readers to ask themselves what your headline is about.
What are your thoughts and experiences on writing headlines?
This series is part of the conversion optimization series.