Wednesday Wisdom is a series of blog posts on This is Lit about the different content marketing strategies you can use to crush it in the blogging world.
Today, we’re going to be discussing some tricks you can follow to write the perfect headline. As Copyblogger repeatedly taught me, the goal of a headline is to get the first 2-3 lines of your content read. A popular statistic in the content marketing world is the 80/20 rule–on an average, 8 out of 10 people read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
But it’s true.
Picture yourself scrolling through your Twitter feed. Twitter is a gold mine for content creators, which means a ton of links are shared there. And you mindlessly scroll past them. It’s only rarely that you stop and click a link.
Now do you understand how distracted your audience is?
You need to write a magnetic headline that readers can’t help but click. And how do you do that?
Here are 5 tips you can follow to write the perfect headline.
1. Always write the headline first.
Whenever you’re writing any piece of content, write the headline first. This is a habit I got because of blogging. When you click Write on WordPress, the first thing you’ll see is an empty space for your post title. Write the title first. Doing so will give you more direction; it’ll help you remember that the body should convey what the headline promises.
But the headline you initially come up with is not set in stone. You may suddenly get a different idea halfway into writing your post. You can always edit your headline before hitting Publish.
2. Be clear.
Sure, you can write a clever headline with a metaphor or a pop culture reference, but you have to understand that not everyone will get it. Readers need to know what they can expect from your post and why they should open yours when there are a million others vying for their attention. A distracted reader is not going to spend time trying to understand your clever headline.
Clarity matters. But also make sure you don’t dumb it down too much for your readers. They’re distracted, not stupid.
3. Don’t over-promise.
Your headline is a promise to the reader. You’re telling them, “hey, you need to spend 5 minutes of your time reading this post and it’ll be worth it”. You can’t over-promise in the headline and then have readers feeling cheated when they read your content.
To borrow heavily from a content marketing course I recently took, don’t make your headlines write checks you content can’t cash.
4. Look for inspiration online.
The Internet’s been around for a while now. So many different headlines have been written for posts that went viral. Your headline only rarely gets to be unique. But here’s the thing–your headline can still be something new in your domain. If you see a catchy headline somewhere, write it down. I’m not asking you to steal, but you can borrow the headline for a post some time in the future.
5. Don’t shy away from writing lists.
Lists sell well, period. Why do you think Buzzfeed is so famous? Just this morning, I read a Buzzfeed listicle about all the ways Steve Carell has become hot in 2018. I don’t even think he’s hot! And yet, I clicked on the link to see what the buzz was all about.
If you need more convincing, here’s a list of my 3 most popular posts:
- 9 things you should NEVER say to a bookworm.
- An 8 point guide to becoming a PROPER book nerd.
- 13 things that book lovers do that are not weird at all, really.
Numbers in headlines can do wonders for your views. I can totally vouch for it.
6. Use keywords in headlines.
Search Engine Optimization helps you rank well on Google. This doesn’t mean you should stuff your headlines with keywords that don’t make a cohesive sentence when put together. However, you need to know what keywords people use on search engines that makes them land on your page. Use the language your audience uses to make them read your content.
That’s all for now!
Come back next Wednesday and I’ll give you examples of the different kinds of headlines you can use.
Until next time!