No matter what an individual writes about, or what form of writing they engage in, headlines or titles are what draw in the readers. Even with the most relevant information or the strongest content, without an engaging title, not many people will read the body of the work. In order to grab the reader’s attention, it is important to craft strong and effective headlines. Catchy titles are essential and work for news, blogs, books and even regular chapter titles.
It is especially crucial when copywriting or blogging that one has a strong headline. When writing, each sentence or line of text is important, because each sentence leads into the next. A weak sentence will pull a reader away from what they are reading. This is especially important with a headline or title, because this is the very first representation of what one is writing. A weak title will kill the piece before it is ever given a chance.
One of the first things a writer should do, is to create their headline or title. This is not only an introduction to what is being written about, but it is also a promise of things to come. Just because one is starting their writing with a headline, does not mean that it cannot be changed after the body of work is completed. In fact, it is quite common to tweak the lead-in to the story, once the actual content is drafted.
In order to craft the strongest and most effective headlines, it is important to have a topic and an angle that will be addressed. Then the writer should take that topic and the corresponding story angle, and use strong, descriptive words. One’s title should not exaggerate or editorialize the work. Never make a promise in a headline that will not be delivered. The title should seduce the reader’s mind so that they want to delve into the topic.
Headlines should also not be so long that it could be a sentence within the body of the piece. Instead, writers should keep it simple, but eloquent. Too many words can be overkill, and giveaway the story without them needing to read any further. Make a statement with the headlines, and entice the readers into the work.
Depending on the type of article, post or story written, use more descriptive words. If the piece is a list of ideas, use words that inspire the imagination, without downplaying that this is a list piece. Use a trigger word in actual headlines, this is a key word that will draw in the reader and make them want to read this particular item.
With the advent of internet writing and blogging, keywords are extremely important aspects of the written word. Readers will search for keywords, and in order to draw in traffic to a piece, there needs to a be a keyword in the title. Keywords are like windows into the mind of the readers, and having them present in the headline of a piece, will be like an alert that this is material that they want to engage with.
Offering readers an idea as to the type of post or story they are reading, will make the headlines stand out in their minds. If the post is a how to, having a title that indicates what they will learn, and what possible benefits there are in the title, will engage their interest. When writing a list post, never use the word thing but instead use words that indicate this is a list of ideas or concepts that will benefit the reader. In headlines for lists, the strongest headlines will either commiserate, demonstrate one’s expertise in a subject, allow the reader to identify with the topic or makes a bold statement.
In order to craft the strongest and most effective headlines, it is especially critical to know the target audience. It is essential to know who will be reading, and why they will be looking for this information. Niche writers need to know how best to garner the attention of the people looking for their work. Writers of more general information need to make sure they have a target in mind and engage that audience. No matter what the topic, it is the headline that will inevitably sell a reader on the piece.
By Kimberley Spinney
University of Kansas
Personal Experience and Research
Photo by Martin Sharman – Flickr License