Trying to get people to read your post without a great headline is like going fishing without bait. It just doesn’t work!
When you spend an hour or more writing a great blog post, you want to do everything you can to make sure that it gets read. The last thing you should do is spend 15 seconds throwing a lousy headline on it.
Some writers spend an equal amount of time writing a great headline as they do writing the entire blog post! You may not need to do that, but you do need to give it considerable thought.
- First, you need to use the keywords that you are trying to rank for. While the Google Hummingbird update has de-emphasized keywords, they still count – at least for now. More importantly, think about how people might look for the content you are creating for them. More and more often today, people are entering questions or long-tailed keywords into the Google (or Bing or Yahoo) search box as they look for information to answer specific needs.
- Second, keep your headlines short – under 65 characters is best. The reason for this is because you should always post your blog articles on Google+ because this will cause them to be crawled and indexed almost immediately by Google. Google+’s maximum length for headlines is 65 characters.
- Make your headline clear. Perhaps this should be obvious, but the reason I include this is that this is not the place to wax poetic and try to be excessively artistic with your headlines. Your blog post headline should say what the post is about. The search engines were built by right-brain engineers, after all, not by artists. They are going to punish you if your post headline is, “My love affair with an Italian,” when it’s really a review of the new Alfa Romeo.
- Use creative hooks. Just because I said you shouldn’t be “artsy,” doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. The best way to be creative is to hook your reader the same way that women’s magazines in the grocery checkout lane does. Study the covers of those magazines and copy their techniques. It’s not stealing – it’s following a formula that works! The best headlines use hooks like these:
- Lists/Tips: 10 ways to get your man to pay attention to you now!
- Instructional/How to: How to bake the world’s best cheesecake
- Secrets revealed: The secret fantasy that your guy hasn’t told you
- Fear: What you aren’t doing that could cost your family thousands!
- Mistakes stated opposite to the way you want things to be: 5 ways to totally blow your career
- Famous person or brand: How to get lips like Angelina Jolie
- Get rid of a problem: Hate that gray? Wash it away!
- Ask a question: Do you dread the holidays? How to survive.
- Controversial: Just Admit It – You Hate Your Mother-In-Law
As you can see from these examples, some of them combine several of the hooks, making them even more effective. Now, here are some actually headlines from posts pulled from blogs listed on Alltop:
- Question headline: What Kind of Media Counts
- List headline: Top 10 Clothing Annoyances, Fixed
- Fear headline: Attention, Apple Shoppers: You’re Being Followed
- Controversial headline: Stop Making Content Just to Make It
- Famous person or brand: Mariah Carey Turns a Facebook Mistake Into An Opportunity
These aren’t the only way to write great headlines, but it’s a start. How about you? Have you seen any great headlines lately? Share them below!