A good headline can be the difference between social sharing stardom and not a single hit.
But what does a good headline look like? At the core, a good headline will communicate a message and suggest a benefit to the intended audience. There isn’t a catch-all format for effective headlines, but there are several types of headlines that have been proven time and time again to get hold of attention from a target audience.
Let’s look a few of them…
1. Time Periods: A short amount of time can put your topic into perspective and increase the appeal.
(Benefit) (Time frame) – Example: Lose 10lbs in 4 Days
2. Ultimatum: This also helps readers put into perspective – if they don’t do the task you are suggesting they are going to face some consequences.
(Do this), (this will happen) – Example: Spend Time Developing Content Now or You’ll Regret it Later
3. Lists: I’m sure you’ve noticed the popularity of this style; there are a ton of “list” headlines circulating the blogosphere and other media outlets. People love lists.
(Number) (Description) – Example: 7 Ways to Easily Redecorate Your Kitchen
4. How-to: How-to articles are similar in popularity to the list headlines. If you are providing step-by-step instructions this is a great way to capture attention.
How to (action) (benefit) – Example: How to Up-cycle That Garage Sale Couch for Less Than $50
5. Mistakes: It’s pretty common that people don’t like to make mistakes. Hitting this sore spot will likely bring some attention to your article.
Are you making (these mistakes) Example: Are you Making These Facebook Marketing Mistakes?
(Number)(Mistake) – Example: 5 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make in Your Marketing Plan
6. Announce News: Humans, by nature, are curious. Feed this temperament by providing a informative title.
Example: New Research Suggests a Cure for Cancer!
7. Secrets: Knowing secrets is seen as an exclusive honor – everyone wants to be on the cutting edge of their industry. This type of headline suggests an elite tip that will set them apart in whatever their industry or hobby.
The Secret of (secret) – Example: The Secret of Online Marketing
(Number)(Mistake) – Example: 4 Secrets to Increasing Your Twitter Following
8. Small Time Commitment: Provide a quick explanation of a quick solution to gain attention from the really busy portion of your audience.
A Quick Way to (topic) – Example: A Quick Way to Build Brand Awareness
9. All Inclusive: Structure your title to imply that all your reader would want to know about the topic is outlined in your article. Not only will this attract those trying to learn about the topic, but those that are well versed (they’ll see it as a challenge to see how much they really know about the topic).
All You Need to Know about (topic) – Example: All You Need to Know about Online Banking.
There is no right or wrong style as your audience may respond differently than another. Spend time on your headline, brainstorm ideas, ask your colleagues for their opinion, and analyze the results.
Don’t stop learning about your audience and accommodating their preferences in your headline writing.