The headline of an article is almost as important as the body – after all, low interest in your headline = low click-through rate = fewer readers to appreciate your work.
Fortunately, writing a powerful, eye-catching headline isn’t quite as daunting a task as it may seem. It just comes down to these three factors: the content; the style; and the mechanics.
To find material for your headline, look for keywords and main ideas within the story which you can condense into one main idea. It also helps to identify and clearly express the main “Who” and “What”: who is the story about and what happened? To grab a reader’s attention, highlight why the article is relevant to them. Does the article solve a problem they have, offer them information, etc.?
A technique that you can use to asses the quality of your headline is the Four U’s – Unique, Useful, Ultra-Specific and Urgent:
Headlines set the tone for the story – use vibrant words to let the reader know your article is not dull and boring. However, it’s important first to assess the subject of your article. If it’s about sensitive topics like race, religion, or gender, then a formal headline would be more appropriate.
Consider using strong, descriptive verbs – such as “provide” – instead of dull, ambiguous verbs – like “give”. The more precise you are about the action, the less room there is for confusion.
When creating an impressive headline, you should consider what exactly you’d like your headline to achieve. Four headline styles are trending right now, all with different purposes: the listicle, informal headlines, question headlines, and tease headlines.
A headline can use one of two cases: Title Case or Sentence Case.
Punctuation also plays a significant role in creating a fantastic headline; it can make your headline clearer, add to style and voice, and allow you to say more in less. The following are four of the most commonly used punctuation marks and how they impact your headline:
Subordinate headlines (subheads) are one of your best assets. A subhead is found under the main headline and acts as a second place to offer valuable information.
While the main headline’s job is to grab the reader’s attention, the subhead offers more detail and uses keywords for SEO. However, note that subheads can’t be too long or you run the risk of losing the reader’s attention. Save long sentences for the body!
A subhead is an opportunity for you to fascinate your readers further – try not to repeat what’s already written in the headline. Though, be aware that the subhead doesn’t stand alone so make sure it’s relevant to the headline and your article.
Another consideration to have is the role that headlines play when optimising your article for search engines. Search engines like Google rely on your headline to determine how relevant your material is to the reader’s search. Therefore, be aware of which keywords you use and where you place them.
Also, note that a funny, witty headline is great for attracting readers but a drawback for search engines. Search engines focus on keywords; their ability to interpret humour is still limited.
If you consider those three factors – content, style and mechanics – every time you’re writing a headline, you should start seeing positive results from the get-go. Though, if you’re still not 100% convinced, one good way of checking the effectiveness of these factors is by using A/B testing (split tests): put up two versions of your headline and see that your readers respond to best.
For more publications like these about publishing articles that’ll get you more attention and click-throughs, check out Sadja Web Solution’s blog.
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