Crafting Quality Headlines

Just recently, I found myself choked for words to use in a headline for a news post I was writing. This led to a good foraging through many blogs for inspiration. What I found was an abundance of information and advice about how to create quality headlines. There really is endless amounts of articles that have been written on this subject, so I thought I’d boil a few down for any of my visitors…

At Copyblogger: How to Write Headlines That Work

In this post Brian Clark, Author of Copyblogger, outlines eight different types of headlines all suited to different situations. He begins with direct and indirect headlines, i.e. one that states the selling proposition directly or one that uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind. Here’s a relevant example for our audience: Direct – “50% off on all 2009 outerwear!” Indirect – “Why pay full-price for your new jacket?” He goes on to describe News headlines, How-to headlines, Question and Command headlines, Reason Why headlines and finally Testimonial headlines. Very useful stuff as it opens the doors to many more headline-writing options.

At Wordbiz: 5 Easy Steps to Write More Effective Headlines

This post by Debbie Weil gives five solid steps to writing, as she puts it, “more effective headlines”. The first three steps in her process are excellent and very relevant for our audience here. They are as follows:

  1. Appeal to your target audience’s emotions – think easy, quick and simple.
  2. Identify their trigger words – use words like easily, reduce, create, deliver, protect.
  3. Consider using a software writing tool – perfect for those lacking in time, writing skills or just a little untimely lack of creativity.

At NEWSTECHZILLA: Headlines and Titles – Writing for Readers AND Search Engines

Lastly, I picked out this post by Scott Adcox, as a way to explain the relevance of SEO in crafting better headlines. Crafting better headlines isn’t just about using appropriate words. Of course, the words have to be relevant to the audience and topic of your article/post. However, your headline must also utilise keywords where possible, to help improve your site’s search engine optimisation. In Scott’s post he discusses using appropriate URL’s for your articles. He also covers Title Tags – particularly relevant for search engines.

In Summary

When I’m writing any article or post, I’ll always make sure I have a title to begin with, no matter how poor it is. Whilst writing, I’ll revisit this title many many times, helping it evolve with the context of my piece. Unfortunately, this isn’t always enough. So next time you’re struggling to write a suitable headline or title on the web, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What type of headline do you want to use?
  2. Who are your audience?
  3. How can you optimise it for search engines?

…And refer to posts above to help you find some answers.