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How to Write Great Headlines

The following guidelines are taken from the ProBlogger book:

There are many strategies that successful writers use to draw attention to their articles with titles. There is no real right or wrong, and as with many aspects of writing, what is a ‘good title’ is subjective.

Ultimately the goal of your title is to get people to read the first line of your post. To do this, consider some of these techniques:

  • Keep it simple – Most research that I’ve seen about titles argues that the most effective titles are short, simple, and easy to understand. Though breaking these rules can help grab attention (see the next item) they can also confuse, frustrate, and put a glazed look in the eyes of potential readers. Shorter titles are also good for search engines – keep it under 40 or so characters and you’ll ensure the whole title appears in search results in Google.
  • Grab attention – Good titles set your posts apart from the clutter around them and draw readers into your post. Attention might be achieved using tactics of shock, big claims, controversy, or even confusion. Though these tactics do work at getting people in, it should also be said that they can do more damage than good if the rest of your post doesn’t live up to the promises your title makes. By all means try to grab attention – just don’t trick your readers into thinking you’ll provide them with something you can’t give them.
  • Meet a need – An effective title draw people into reading more because they feel you’ve got something to say that they need to hear. The NewsNow Top Headlines index illustrates just how effective this is. Quite often the articles that get to the top of the list meet the fans’ need for new information about teams and players.
  • Describe – Some readers will be drawn into a post by a cryptic title that doesn’t tell them much about what they’ll be reading, but the majority of readers need to know something about what they’ll find if they read further. Titles should describe what the readers will get in the main post. They don’t need to give away everything in the post, but being descriptive will definitely help.
  • Use Keywords – As I mentioned earlier, titles are a powerful part of SEO. If you want to maximise their power you need to consider using the keywords that you want you post to be found with in your title in some way. This, of course, is challenging when you’re attempting to keep it simple and to also grab attention and intrigue – but it can be done. Words at the start of titles are thought to be more powerful than words at the end when it comes to SEO.

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