The saying goes that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Such is true for first dates, job interviews and headlines. If your headline doesn't grab someone by the short and curlies and force them to click through to your site from their RSS feed, you've missed your chance. Your post could contain mind-blowing content and groundbreaking information but without an equally amazing headline, you're not giving it a chance to shine in the spotlight of the Internet.
Professional bloggers know that the web is bursting at the seams with great content — guides, how-to's, photos, videos, infographics, white papers, reports, ebooks, free downloads, and much more — and in order for their post to generate the traffic it deserves, they must create a headline that causes readers crane their necks for a double take. To click that link. But most importantly, to share it with someone else.
Make your headline of the same caliber as a celebrity nude photo and people won't be able to resist.
What, like you've never looked?
If your headline is a naked celebrity, your content is the camera that took the photo. You can't really have one without the other. And you'd better have a damn good camera. The quality of your content will reinforce your headline and give you credibility as an expert in your field. That is the goal after all, right? It's a good thing you're not a celebrity promoting a movie — you don't have to take your clothes off and get your cellphone "hacked" in order to make headlines.
Now, let's take a look at how we can combine arresting headlines with quality content to make a post one just can't resist.
Who can resist a list? I mean, it worked on you didn't it? Spoon-feeding readers information in tidy bite-sized morsles allows them to scan and take in information on the go. The trick here is, packing as much good stuff as you can into as few words as possible.
- Make the list an odd number. As in, not 5, 10, 15, 20 and so on. Try numbers like 4, 6, 11, 19. They're more likely to jump out at readers who are bombarded by 5 item lists from here to kingdom come.
There's three more examples of freakishly awesome content and headline formulas below the break!
The Negative "What Not To Do" Headline
It's why you're compelled to flip to the black bar fashion victim page of your favorite style mag - to check to make sure you're not wearing the same exact outfit today. It's why you always, without fail, every Spring pick up the WORST CELEBRITY BIKINI BODIES rag in the checkout line - cause you secretly (or, not so secretly) want to compare your own bod to theirs. To see where you stand. To know if you're better than most, or just eeking by with the rest. Admit it - you totally do this!
It's been shown (from studies and my own traffic results) that negative headlines draw more attention, but positively-skewed content does better in the long run.
Mashup your headlines and copy like a vanilla-chocolate swirl fro-yo: publish a negatively toned headline ("What Not To Do on a First Date") but give some positive reinforcement within the article (things you're doing right, how to turn it around, ect.).
The media at large won't be able to help but link to you if you score a juicy, informative, or exciting piece of exclusive content. Now just because I'm writing this list on how to write headlines in a different way than others does not make it exclusive. If by chance you do land an interview with a celeb in your industry that isn't on some kind of press tour, or gives away information that you haven't seen anywhere else, then you've struck gold. Adding the word EXCLUSIVE in big, bold, and all-caps letters to your title is a bright, shining neon sign beckoning readers to your virtual pages.
: If the publicist freaks out, you've probably got an exclusive. But before you give yourself a high-five and run to your laptop, consider asking if it's OK to publish the information. Staying on a publicists' good side could come in handy later.
The Secret to [ANYTHING]
Ever since mankind started telling stories by the campfire, we've been desperate to know the secret to anything. Everything! So letting your readers in on a secret to help them achieve something, make something easier, or — and this is a big one — make more money, it's like you're inviting them into a private club. We all want to be a part of the club, right?
: Get schooled in a serious way on how to write freaking amazing headlines from the attention-grabbing geniuses over at Copyblogger. Here's
Have a question about headlines, accompanying content, or naked celebrities? I'd love to discuss them with you below in the comments!