The Ultimate Guide to Writing Killer Headlines
80% of the people reading your blog or web page will read your headline. If you’re lucky, 20% of those will go on to read your article. Killer headlines matter…period.
Headline Writing Fundamentals
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. When you write, do the headline first. You want to be fresh and full of energy and creativity. You also want the headline to define the article… not the other way around.
Use the 4U Rule for Killer Headlines.
Every headline should promise something USEFUL, make it sound URGENT, promise a UNIQUE benefit, and make that promise in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way. If your headline doesn’t promise to help people with their problems or make them curious, it won’t work.
When it comes to benefits, effective headlines always address the emotional root of the problem… not the symptoms. Did anyone ever wake up in the morning wanting whatever your headline promises? If not, write a different headline!
Why Headlines Fail
Sometimes people just get it wrong. And it is up to you as a content producer to get it right!
Headlines fail for the following reasons:
- Fails to grab attention
- Doesn’t resonate with readers
- Reader doesn’t know what’s in it for them
- No benefits
- Can’t tell what it’s about
- Too preachy
- Can’t tell who it’s for
Here is an excellent resource on why headlines fail.
Classic Headline Templates
OK, so what are the different forms of classic headline writing? Sure, you can make up your own from scratch. But with an 80 year history, modern advertising’s come up with a few really effective ones that may make your life a lot easier.
- The “How to” headline
example: How To Write Killer Headlines
- Be afraid headline
example: 4 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Headlines
- Who else wants headline
example: Who Else Wants The Secrets To Writing Killer Headlines
- Secret of headline
example: The Secret Of Writing Killer Headlines
- Little known ways headline
example: Little Know Ways To Make Your Headlines Stand Out
- Get rid of headline
example: Get Rid Of You Headline Writing Fears Once And For All
- Ought to know about headline
example: What Everyone Ought To Know About Writing Killer Headlines
When submitting ideas for a guest post your headline ideas count.
Other Headline Ideas
Be sure to copy some of these headlines for your blog. Just insert your topic and see if it fits.
- Power headlines: “Are you ready to take charge of your life?” These work because questions operate on a lower level of the mind. They leave the reader hanging. To get an answer, the reader has to click the link and read your piece.
- Ask why headlines: “Why do so many people love making money online?” (This also works for who, what, when, where, and how… more on “how” later.) They still work if you drop the question mark, too — “Why so many people love making money online”
- Making it sound easy is another way of getting two benefits in one: “The lazy man’s way to 6-pack abs.”
- Leaving out the “to” in a “how to” headline — “How I earned five thousand dollars this morning” — can make it more human and personal, and therefore more believable.
- The most effective benefits are always emotional. Nobody actually wants to learn accounting. What they really want is the control over their life — in this case, their finances — that your benefit brings. “Never be short on cash again, we’ll show you how.”
Advanced Headline Tips
- No headline guide would be complete without mentioning the numbered list. Everyone uses these.People like them because they make a crystal-clear promise. “7 ways to make you lose your belly fat”
- You, however, can do better. Try “Best” or “Worst” — “The Worst Hotels in Antarctica.” These headlines have a secret feature: they make for posts that last.People use them as references, coming back and referring to them when they need, say, a hotel in Antarctica. (Berlin, Paris, or London would probably make for a more useful reference.) Best and worst lists can also have tons of entertainment value… just look at the mystique of Dubai, a city that was basically created to top every “best” list ever.
- Try announcing news. “Scientists have created the perfect…” You can also go back to basics and just lay the deal out for your readers. “Give me five minutes and I’ll make you an interior design expert.”
- Being commanding is another way to simplify. If your audience has gone glassy-eyed from marketing overload, “Stop wasting money” and “Become famous” get them to wake up and take action!
- The counterpoint to commanding is the ultra soft sell… testimonial headlines. “It worked for me!” Honest and enthusiastic testimonials are powerful things.Why? Because the audience, instead of asking “What’s in it for me?” starts empathizing with you. It’s a powerful and positive emotion.
- This isn’t to say that negative headlines can’t work. “If you don’t change your investing now, you’ll hate yourself later” will get attention. Warning! What you say next is a matter of life and death.Never, ever attack parts of your reader’s identity. It’s very easy to turn people off.
You want to push the positive. Shift emphasis off the negative ASAP.
- The same advice goes, by the way, for deliberately controversial headlines. “The Bernie Madoff Guide to Business” will definitely get interest… just keep in mind that Madoff hurt a lot of people as well, and your readership will be a lot less interested in hurting people than they will be in the positive.Drama draws, but be careful.
#1 Top 100% Big Money Ultimate Headline Writing Tip?
Write lots and lots of headlines. Play around. Explore the power of words. Go out and find headline ideas and re-write them. Remember to make a resource file of headlines that you can copy. Why re-invent the wheel ?