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The Best Headlines – Learn How To Write Them

How can you choose the best headline — or at least the most appropriate one — for each article? I’m going to offer some suggestions that may help you make a decision next time you write a new post.

Why should I care about writing deadlines anyway?

Because each article’s headline is like an ad.

The headline is obviously the very first thing readers will see. If it doesn’t catch their attention, you’ll be in trouble. Some readers will proceed to read the article descriptions or excerpts available on search engines and social media sites, even when a headline doesn’t look particularly interesting. But many won’t do it. If your headline doesn’t make they feel compelled to read on, you’ll lose them.

Of course, the whole article must be good, not only its title. But then again, a good article without a good headline may pass unnoticed.

How is a good headline like?

While it depends on your audience — not all types of readers will react equally to the same titles — , it’s safe to say that the best headlines are the ones that let your readers know in advance what your articles are about. It’s a matter of usability: people feel more comfortable when they know what they are going to see after clicking on a link.

By writing headlines that clearly indicate your posts’ topic, you’ll not only help your readers but also yourself. Why? Because when people find your articles via search engines or social media sites, they will be more likely to visit your site if they feel you wrote about a subject they care for.

What about those headline formulas that marketers love so much?

Oh, yes, I love them too. Titles like “How To Blah Blah” and “Give Me (…) And I’ll Show You (…)” do entice people to click and/or read on. Those are proven copywriting techniques; they are used because they work. I know it’s a cliché, but that’s the truth.

Still, note that all those classical headline formulas induce a writer to fill in the gaps with relevant information on the piece’s nature. If I had titled this article as “How To Do What I Think You Should,” would you be interested in it? Granted, I do think you should be careful when choosing titles for your articles. But why should you care? How could you guess whether this post’s subject would be relevant to you or not?

What if I write intriguing headlines to make readers curious?

I’m a very curious person and I tend to click on many links just because their anchor text intrigues me. However, this often makes me waste my time with disappointing articles. And when I realise that the same blogger or webmaster has made me waste my time more than once, guess what happens? I stop reading his articles. And I’m sure I’m not the only Internet user in the world who behaves this way.

Moreover, you should remember that not everyone will have the same reaction to the same titles, as stated above. You may be sure that you’ve created a very intriguing headline, but readers may stumble upon it and think: “Who cares?” And you know that a reader who thinks so is in fact a lost visitor. One more reason to write clear titles.

I might have titled this post something like “I Can’t Believe You’re Still Making These Mistakes!” and hope that you’d feel curious enough to want to find out what mistakes I’d be writing about. But you might as well have shrugged and ignored it. I chose not to run the risk.

Can a good headline help me get more search engine traffic?

You bet it can. I already wrote a bit on search engine users’ behaviour in the paragraphs above.

In order to write headlines that generate more Google (or Yahoo!, or MSN…) love for your site or blog, you must get used to researching keywords before picking the definitive titles for your articles. I know that developing new habits isn’t easy. I confess I often forget my own advice. But whenever I remember it, I try to put it into practice.

I encourage you to do the same. Help search engine users find your site: write headlines that are both descriptive and keyword-driven.