Headlines, or post titles, are the most important part of your article. Why? Because the majority of people use headlines to decide whether or not to read your article. Doesn’t matter how good or bad your actual article is. If it has a weak headline, it won’t get read.
Need more convincing about the importance of headlines? Here’s an excerpt from the ProBlogger book:
Well-written titles are important on many fronts, including the following:
- Grabbing attention in search engines – Go to Google and type in virtually any word you can think of, and you’ll often find millions of results. The interesting thing is that for most search results in Google (and other search engines) there is very little for readers to go by in deciding which result to click on. There is a title, a short excerpt, and a URL. The most highlighted of these is the title, and I believe it is a key to getting search-engine-referral visitors.
- Getting RSS readers’ attention – In a very similar way, titles have the ability to grab the attention of those following your blog via RSS feeds in news aggregators [like NewsNow]. News-aggregator readers tend to scan the titles of posts for things of interest rather than reading full text, stopping to read and visiting the posts that pique their interest.
- Getting attention in social bookmarking sites – The same principle is true in social bookmarking sites like Reddit.com and Delicious.com, which have the potential to send your site many thousands of visitors based almost solely on the title of your post.
- Loyal readers – Good titles also impact the way your loyal readers interact with your site. As we’ve discussed elsewhere, web users scan pages and one of the best ways to make them pause as they roll their eyes down your site is to capture their attention with a good title that intrigues them enough to slow down their frantic web surfing and actually read some of the content that you’ve poured time and energy into.
- Search engine optimization – Though there are many factors that contribute to how search engines rank a page, one of the most powerful onsite factors is the words that you use in the title of that page. By default content publish platforms like WordPress will include your title in the title tags of your post’s page and the URL structure of that page – both of these factors contribute to that page’s search-engine ranking. Add to this that other bloggers often use your title to link to you (a very powerful thing), and your titles become a very important factor in ranking well and generating traffic in search engines.
Take your time with the writing of post titles. Many writers pour a lot of effort into writing interesting and engaging articles, but then just slap any old title onto it without realising that in doing so they might be ensuring that their article is never read.
Treat your title as a mini advertisement for your work. Take at least a few minutes before hitting ‘Publish’ to not only make sure your post is in order, but that your title is going to do everything it can to maximize the chances that people will engage with what you have to say.
The good news is that with a little bit of work and a little bit of thought you can learn the skill of good headline writing, and make sure your articles get read.
Back to the Soccerlens Writers Guide.