As a copywriter, you know how important a headline is to a story. If it doesn’t have the perfect mix of relevance, mystery and benefit, chances are your busy readers will move on to something else without reading a word of your content. Here’s how to create a headline that pulls readers in and keeps them from leaving your page.
1. Write your headline first
Many times, a writer will think of an idea for an article, spend all of his or her time researching and writing it, and then rush through a headline at the end. However, keeping this an afterthought leaves little to no room for effective headline brainstorming. Instead, try to think like a reader, recommended Dr. Merlin R. Mann, associate professor of journalism at Columbia University. By identifying your headline first, not only are you spending more time on it and, therefore, making it higher quality, but you’re also nailing down your focus and improving your main content as a result.
2. Use keywords…when it makes sense
As with all marketing jobs, your goal is to attract your audience and speak directly to what interests them. Check Google Analytics and see which keywords bring the most visitors to your site. This is good information to consider before writing anything, let alone a headline. You should always know which topics your audience finds compelling. Including buzzwords in a title isn’t crucial every time, but adding one where it fits every now and then could be the deciding factor in whether a reader stays or goes.
3. Lists are magnetic
Any marketing analyst will be able to tell you that traffic to list articles is typically higher than any other kind of content. According to SEO consulting company Moz, headlines that include numbers resonate the best with readers. By a landslide, this technique beat out addressing readers directly (including “you” in the title), how-to’s and questions. If you need a concrete example, just look at Buzzfeed, which is known for its viral content and, more specifically, its entertaining lists that somehow pull readers in and encourage them to share posts with friends. Numbers are interesting and imply credibility and focus. After all, it worked with you for this article, didn’t it?
4. Create mystery
When you first read the title of this article, there could have been a few things going on in your mind. First, you may have recognized that the content was in list form, signaling that it’s easily digestible and you wouldn’t have to commit to reading an article that contained buried content. Next, the topic must have appealed to you as either a copywriter or someone who just wants to learn more about the subject. But your own curiosity could have been the deciding factor in clicking to read more. By creating mystery, this headline tapped into your desire to learn what exactly it is that gets people to click on a headline. If you reveal too much in your title, however, the reader may assume that he or she received all of the value that your content has to offer.