Guest post from Nick Marquet
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If you are a writer, your goal is probably for your work to be consumed by an interested audience who will rave about it to their friends. Yet, if you write the most insightful, thought-provoking, earth-shattering blog post or newspaper article — and no one reads it – it’s not very likely that your writing will resonate with a wide audience.
Learning how to write a catchy headline can be the difference between a well-distributed piece of writing, or a dud. So, let’s take a look at the steps required to write a headline that will attract the readers you’re looking for.
Know your audience.
Keep your audience in mind when drafting a headline. The world’s most shocking title may contain the words “sex,” “lies,” and “videotape,” but it could be a complete turn-off to an audience of monks.
Include a “focus keyword” to help your writing to get discovered in search engines. Build the headline around the most important keyword in your written text and ensure that it is fewer than 70 characters. Additional words are considered too long for Google to index.
Create a knowledge vacuum.
A headline that leaves the reader wanting more has done its job. Take this one for example: “These Pieces Of Advice Found On Instagram Could Change Your Life.” Does it make you want more? Does it intrigue you? Your readers will probably look for more information in the rest of your article.
Solve a problem.
After reading a headline, readers may wonder, “Why should I read on?” Many decide to do so because they believe from the title of the post that you, the author, can solve their problem. Consider the headline of this post; perhaps you are reading with the hope it will solve your headline-writing problem?!
People love numbers, especially in headlines. Numbers are something we know and feel comfortable with; they give us a sense of familiarity and advise our brains on how long an article may take to read. With numbers we can justify the exchange of information for our time – especially with numbers that describe how many points will be covered. For example: “10 Ways to cook eggs that your mother never told you about.”
Yes, you heard right. Don’t be afraid to look for inspiration wherever you can. If you write for a publication, review older copies and look for examples that you know would work with your audience and tweak them. ViralNova.com, a website that repackages content that is already available, does a great job of writing compelling headlines. Tim Ferris created multiple titles for his book, The 4 Hour Work Week, before settling on the mega hit. He ran a series of Google ads and looked at the click through rates, simply choosing the one with the highest.
There is a tool called Portent’s Content Idea Generator, and it is a piece of brilliance. Plug in your topic or focus keyword into the little text box, hit a button, and bam – out pops a catchy headline in less time than one minute and seven seconds. At the very least, it could trigger ideas.
Overall, a catchy headline should speak directly to the part of the brain that subconsciously cares. However, a catchy headline is nothing without quality, thoughtful, engaging content that is shared and admired. Remember: that’s the reason we wanted the catchy headline in the first place. And until we start reading from the bottom up, catchy headlines are here to stay.
About the Author
Husband of Lorna Marquet and father of three young boys, Nick Marquet is the co-author of the book, Mommies Making Money Online (due to publish early Oct)and runs www.MommiesMakingMoneyOnline.comwith Lorna. He has 11 years’ experience in newspaper, magazine and digital advertising, and more than five years running successful online businesses. His main goals are to provide a fun, fulfilling life for his family and to help Moms succeed in their own online endeavours. Sign-up to their newsletter here.