Writing Headlines That Wow
Headlines are what determine whether an article, even a great one, is going to receive a lot of traffic or is destined to be ignored. It is important to craft a compelling headline to incite the user’s imagination and bait them into reading the article. Therefore, headlines determine the click-through rates of articles whereas quality content determines the dwell time of users. It makes perfect sense then to write a headline, which really wows.
An important aspect of writing phenomenal headlines is to always stay informed with the latest news, stories and articles. This will give you an enormous database of ideas, which you can tap, combine, pin against, and warp in order to create a fascinating new headline and article. Thanks to Google News, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and interest related websites, it is extremely easy to follow certain data streams for business, sports, IT, etc, and even save the information onto your computer. For example, Google News and Google+ can combine all your new updates into one place.
Having conducted your research on topical news and articles, consider what would be of interest to your readers and what would add value to your customers as the two aren’t necessarily the same. Think about how a number of articles can be combined to present an argument or carry out a thorough analysis of something. Consider also if scientific or technological breakthroughs have any relevance to your business niche – they might be able to increase efficiency, change the production processes or provide a more pleasurable employee experience. Finally, do not exclude the option to “translate” technical articles with a lot of specialist jargon into plain English, which is easily understood. A lot of times, people are faced with an insurmountable wall of information so they would appreciate a walk-through guide.
Now (hopefully) you have all the necessary components to build a headline, which wows. Start by determining your target audience – some prefer to read brief but extremely informative articles, and believe that headlines should reflect that. Such people are financial analysts, bankers, engineers, programmers or scientists. Others would like something that makes them think and has a number of double meanings to throw them off track. Such people are fiction writers or readers, gossipers, etc, and they prefer a titillating and somewhat misleading title. The main choice here is between Direct and Indirect Headlines: whether to go straight to the matter or take a more subtle approach.
An alternative approach would be to use a news headline, although this will only work as long as the topic is relevant. For example, “Apple wins legal battle with Samsung” will be read as long as the court proceedings between the companies are considered news. In a short amount of time, this headline will attract a lot of traffic, which will gradually tail off until it fades to zero.
“How to” and question headlines are a timeless classic which will always attract attention as people will not stop trying to learn new skills and improving themselves. They have the magic charm of saying, “we know how something is done and we will share this knowledge”. These can further focus attention on usually ignored points and incite curiosity in the reader.
Command and reason headlines provide the reasons why and knowledge how to do something. These headlines explain the popularity of list articles, because they not only show how something can be done in a number of ways but also defend how the user will benefit from doing it. These headlines are fantastic when it comes to SEO because these are common search keywords and have high click-through rates.