How To Write Headlines That Work
A useful tool for assessing titles—and five good examples
Headlines matter, they really do. I have no idea how many new stories appear on the internet every day, let alone social media. With all the choice a reader has, how are they going to choose your article? What is going to make them think I need to read this one?
I’m hoping this article will help you make your article catch a readers eye. Several writers have told me my headlines are pretty good. So, I thought it would be helpful to share the steps I take to write great headlines in an article. Here goes.
Why I Focused on Powerful Headline Writing (72)
When I started writing eighteen months ago, it was fair to say I had no idea. My articles were crap, with headlines that didn’t do anything to pull in the reader. As I always do when things don’t tend to work for me, I started looking for ways to improve.
I read many articles on blog post writing. Loads and loads, too many in fact. But the one lesson that actually stuck with me was to focus on writing a great headline. No one was going to read what I was writing unless the headline captured their attention.
This was why I focused on writing powerful headlines. So what steps did I take to write a better headline?
Is It Bad to Want to Write Great Titles People Love? (74)
The first step I took, having consumed countless articles, was to use a headline analyzer. This tool was a great way to validate my title ideas and thoughts. I’m not sure of any others which exist, but the one I use is from the guys at Co-Schedule.
Write Better Headlines: Headline Analyzer From CoSchedule - @CoSchedule
The Headline Analyzer that will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares…
The analyzer checks your title and gives it a score. It looks at the words you’ve used and tells you whether the words are common, uncommon, emotional, or power words.
The score is out of 100 and anything over 70 comes in the green zone, which is a good headline.
If we take my headline from this article, “How To Write Great Headlines That Work,” we can see it scored a 73. You will notice numbers in brackets after each sub-heading I’ve used. These are the headline scores from Co-schedule.
As you can see, it is a very helpful tool to have on hand.
What Is More Important, the Title or the Relevance of It? (71)
I am guilty of this, of writing a great headline that isn’t relevant to the article. This happens because I think of a topic and then write the headline, and then write the article.
From time to time, what comes out as the finished article doesn’t bear relevance to the title. So check your headline makes sense after you’ve finished writing.
Relevance is everything when you think about it. You have teased the reader with a great headline, then the reader ends up reading something else. You are losing the reader not just for the article, but potentially for life.
Five Powerful Examples of Stunning Headlines (72)
The next aspect of choosing a headline is to know the different types that exist and how to use them. Understanding this, and using it with Co-schedule, has helped me write better headlines.
Any article which starts with “How To” is an article offering help and guidance to the reader. We all want to learn something and a great “How To…” headline will help to capture the reader. After all, it worked here, didn’t it?
I love using questions as my headline. They work because the question resonates with the reader. The question is one they may well have given some thought to. I have used various questions as sub-heading titles.
This headline type offers a powerful way to capture readers attention. Each list starts like the sub-heading I used above. The only downside with this type of headline is its popularity.
Identify and solve a problem
A headline which offers a problem and solution are great ways to attract attention. One of the secrets of this type of headline is to use emotion. An example might be “Parenting Genuis: From Chaos to Peace.”
Make a statement
The power of a simple headline is to make it simple. An example of this in action: “Twitter Goes Public: 21 Things You Should Know.”
Of course, there are many other types of headlines you can use, but I tend to stick with these five as they work well for me.
For New Writers, Learning About Titles Is a Luxury (70)
This isn’t a luxury really, but it is very helpful. I wish I had come across this article sooner—then my headlines would have been great from the start. As I said at the beginning, choosing the right headline can make or break your article, so take your time and practice. Using a tool like a headline analyzer is a great way to improve your ability to write great headlines.
Headlines are the doorway to your article, so take the time to make it informative and engaging. Make it relevant, for this is vital in helping them read the article to the end. Then it’s down to your writing to see you on your way.