Everything I know about headline writing I learned from two guys who’ve been in the blog-building game a long time: Chris Garrett of Authority Blogger and Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic. I figured the best thing was to share some of what I’ve learned from personal experience, and hen “give honor where honor is due” as the Bible says, instead of beating my head against the wall trying to think of something new to say on headline writing.
Why Headlines Are Clutch
Headlines are important for the obvious reasons: they tell you what the content is about, they set the tone of the content, and they ideally draw readers in.
There’s one more reason that’s kind of kept on the low-low by web marketing geeks. Seriously, this is something I’ve seen shady online marketing gurus never say ONE WORD about in any of their keynote speeches, posts, or educational materials, kind of like a chef’s secret ingredient.
Search.Engine.Optimization. (Remember that word optimization from Part 2?)
Now, don’t check out on me here and think I’m going to have you start coding. I wouldn’t play you like that.
What I do want you to do is burn into your brain that headlines are the primary piece of content that search engines like Google look at when they are deciding what search results to show to a user. So, if you are posting something about “Roland TR-808 “, and you put “drum machines” in your headline somewhere, you will have a much better chance of being found on Google or Bing when someone searches for info about popular drum machines.
Headline Writing Strategies
Okay so now let’s talk about some resources and strategies for headline writing.
Why? Because those sites live and die by drawing millions of visitors per day to their site. In order to do that they have to create headlines that will draw large crowds. One thing you’ll notice about TMZ is their headlines are very short – 7 to 10 words, and they often structure their headlines like this: Celebrity Name + What They Did. For example:
“Johnny Manziel Partying With Bieber: Cops Called” ( go ahead and click it, I’ll wait.)
If the person’s name isn’t widely known, they’ll use an organization or show name, such as:
2. Try using one of the 9 most popular headline hacks listed below
This is a consolidated list of headline “hacks” from Chris Garrett and Jon Morrow. Eventually you’ll find your own style, but for now use these until you get several under your belt. I’ve written a short explanation beside each one.
- Get What You Want – These headlines are similar to the ‘How To’ category, but they speak directly to solutions to desired outcomes like Live the Life of Your Dreams or Lose Weight Without Exercise.
- Fear Uncertainty and Doubt – Here you are talking about dangers that could threaten your readers – “What Most Producers Won’t Tell You About DAW Software” or “How Safe Is Your Demo Tape in the Cloud?”
- Fact, Fiction, Secrets, Truth, and Lies – “Destroying The Facebook Fan Myth”
- How To/Tricks of the Trade: “How to Record a Demo for Free”
- Best and Worst: “The Best/Worst Mics for Vocalists”
- List Headlines: Another self-explanatory hack, this is the usual “Top 15 New Producers in EDM”
- Zen Life – These offer your audience a stress-free, simple way of doing things.
- Piggybacking – We’ve all seen these, especially in business or sports publications. “Steal DJ QBert’s Scratching Secrets” or “What Starbucks Oatmeal Can Teach You About Brand Extension”
- Mistake headlines – This can take a couple of different forms, but in essence these headlines can
BONUS: I’m giving you a free, no-email-needed, link to Chris Garrett’s 102 Headline Writing Formulas.
Hove your mouse over the box below and click on the disc icon to save to your desktop.