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A Head Start on Headlines: How to Create the Perfect Article

by Patrick Rosario

great headlines

The right title is about a lot more than just using a larger font size and bolding the words – it can take a good article and make it great.

How so? By providing a clear and concise meaning to the entire article and encapsulating everything said while still making potential readers want to take the time to look over the entire thing. Oh, and truly great headlines grab your readers’ attention and don’t let go.

In the digital age, headlines are more important than ever. If you don’t hook them there, it’s likely that they will simply move on. And really good titles can help something to get shared on social networks or – better yet – even to go viral.

It can be the difference between having just a few dozen people reading that great content you poured your heart into or bumping that number up into the thousands – or even tens or hundreds of thousands! Generally speaking, numbers like that aren’t incredibly likely, but it does happen, so who’s to say your article isn’t next?

With that in mind, before you start your next article, make it a point to consider the headline first. Will it grab someone’s attention? If not, maybe it’s time to consider a different angle for what you’re writing.

A good title won’t hinder your writing process; instead, it will focus it. Much like an outline can serve to better organize your article, a headline can help keep you on track.

When you’re in the middle of the writing process and losing sight of what your initial intent for the article was, you can simply look back and refer to your title. Are you living up to the promise it provides? If not, think about what you’re missing – can you amp up what’s already there, or do you need to tackle it from a different direction?

poor headlineInstead of trying to come up with an idea, writing the article, and then coming up with a title, try starting with a headline. It can be a great way to get a “head start” on your writing, so you’re beginning with a clear picture in mind and better able to craft that perfect article.

Need some tips to get those creative juices flowing? Look no further!

Keep it short.

For SEO purposes, your title should be under 60 characters. This rule may seem restrictive, but it can really help to tighten up an unruly title. If you find yourself going too long, it’s likely you’re getting a little wordy, and editing it down will do much to improve it.

Remember, people will make the decision to read or not read an article in a matter of seconds. Make it easy on them by getting right to the point.

List away.

There’s a reason why you see so many “Top 10” lists on the internet – people like them. Look at your title and consider how it could possibly be converted into a simple list. This will also help you to better craft your article for the internet since the subheadings and shorter paragraphs that usually accompany those kinds of lists also make for easier e-reading.

Make it useful.

Does your title immediately tell people how reading your blog will benefit them? You want to let people know that they will walk away with information that will make their lives easier in some way. For instance, “6 Ways You Can Avoid Financial Disaster” is a better title than “Common Financial Problems Explained.”

See also 102 Proven Headline Formulas

Be unexpected.

“Why I Hate Chocolate and You Should, Too.” That title leaves you wondering, “Why would anyone dislike chocolate?” And you can’t help but be compelled to click to find out more. Find ways to subvert people’s expectations and leave them wanting to learn more.

Make them laugh.

funny headlineDon’t underestimate the power of humor. If the title already makes them giggle, they know they’ll be in for a treat if they read the rest of the article.

Be clear.

It can be tempting to get so wrapped up in your title that you lose sight of what the article is actually about. Make sure that when someone sees the headline, they know exactly what they will be reading. And when you’re done writing the article, revisit that headline you started out with – is it still the best fit?

Check your calendar.

Are there any upcoming holidays? What about special events? These are great ways to make your blog post topical and to generate new ideas.

Make it a fight.

“Paying Down Your Debt vs. Investing.” “Kindle vs. Nook.” Set two things against each other and see what comes out on top. This is idea is particularly useful for business blogs that can use it to inform their customers by comparing their various products or services.

Make it current.

Instead of just “The Best Vacation Spots,” make it “The Best Vacation Spots of 2012.” This will help people see the topic as more timely and relevant, and can also lend some urgency to otherwise general topics.

Crunch the numbers

Money is something we can all understand, so add a specific value to your title. If you’re telling people how much they can save, let them know just how much. When sharing a list of the best restaurants in the area, let them know if this will be fine dining or casual fare.

And people always like to see the extreme examples of what they’re interested in. For example, if you run a wedding blog, why not share the most expensive wedding dresses ever? Or better yet, share a list of wedding dresses that cost over $10,000.

Address a specific audience.

Make it clear in the headline exactly who would be interested in reading. “Retirement Planning for People Under 30.” “The Best Jobs for Baby Boomers.” “Healthiest Foods for New Moms.” Before you even click to read on, you know whether or not the article will be aimed at you.

Make it a case study.

If you’re offering advice on your blog, offering practical examples can really bring people in. In your title, make it clear that you will be following a real world example, and be sure to specify the exact problem you will be discussing.

Ask a question.

And make sure it’s a question that you’re dying to know the answer to. This is a great technique for taking an otherwise boring blog topic and making it interesting. Instead of “Ways to Increase Your Twitter Followers,” try “How Did I Get Over 5,000 Twitter Followers in 1 Month?”

Write a sequel.

If you’ve already had success with a blog headline in the past, revisit it! You can provide an update on the topic, address different questions, or provide more tips. Whatever you do, make sure you are adding new, interesting information and not just rehashing old stuff, and of course, be sure to link back to that old post.

Conclusion

With the right headline at the top of your document, it’s easier to find the inspiration to tackle that article, and when you’re able to focus simply on making the article the best that it can be, it shows, and your audience will step up and take notice!

Now that you’ve crafted that awesome article, next will be what should you do after publishing your post?

How about you? Any tips for writing great headlines? What did I miss?

image credits: searchenginepeople.com, smartbloggerz.com

Article by

Patrick Del Rosario is a business and finance blogger. He works at Open Colleges, one of the pioneers of Online education in Australia. Aside from blogging , Patrick is an aspiring photographer. If you want, you can connect with him at Google+ or contact him at patrick(at)oc.edu.au.

Patrick has written 1 articles at iBlogzone.com

1

Edwin

April 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I totally agree with a ton of the points listed here. Headlines that ask questions or case studies is a great idea and attracts a lot more readers than other boring titles. Thanks for these tips Patrick.

2

Anh Le

April 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I like the “make it current” tip and the example you gave totally draws out the difference! I am not so sure about the “list” post type. I am ok with that but not really a big fan. I’ve seen a lot of people discussing the power of list posts but I still don’t go much for it yet 🙂

3

Sudipto

April 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

Hey Patrick,
nice post and Thanks for sharing these useful tips to create perfect article. Yes, the title of the post should be eye catching because it helps in attracting reader. I really like all the tips you mentioned above and surely gonna implement all in my blog.

4

Toby

April 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

All great tips but your suggestion to come up with the post title first is just spot on. It really helps focus the mind in on the purpose of the article you’re writing. I used to write the article first and then the headline. I don’t recommend it. You realise – too late – that you’ve drifted from the topic you wanted to cover.

I’ve shared this post on blogbods – let’s get all those newbie bloggers on the right track…myself included!

5

Connor Harley

April 28, 2013 at 6:46 am

As a constant reader of different blogs the moment I wake up, one of the things that lure me to read right away a blog is how it is headlined. I usually read blogs that catches my attention and curiousity right away the moment I lay my eye on the headline.

6 Jignesh Rathod April 28, 2013 at 11:46 am

Wow lots of great points, Patrick! My favorite are keep it short, list away and be unexpected and be funny. I think title as as much important as the entire post itself. Why? It leads people to come to read your post and share it as well!

7 Sanumed April 29, 2013 at 6:29 am

There is a very good article written by copyblogger on the same. I usually use brainstrorming tool and search for the same keyword in Google and look for creative titles idea. This not only helps in finding good titles but also helps in finding new topics.
There are few tools available which will let you create titles based on your keywords say ubersuggestool. I am a big fan of that tool.

8 Tracy E Crawford May 10, 2013 at 1:40 am

I struggle a bit with the balance between writing a catchy headline that will lock readers’ attention vs. including keywords in the title for SEO.

I guess if you can do both, it’s ideal.

9 Mayank Pahwa July 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Lots of good points to be taken care of but the point that stands out is 3. Make it useful, because as you said people would read your article if they find that it is about something that will make their lives easier. For ex. people will want to read the article with heading “5 quick ways to increase your traffic overnight” more than the one with “How to increase your traffic”.

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