Content Marketing Academy | Writing Great Headlines

The headline is incredibly important for three reasons:

  • The headline is the first thing your reader will see;
  • The headline is what will show up in search engine results;
  • The headline is what people will use to link to your article.

In other words, your headline is what makes people decide whether they want to read your content. This is why advertising guru David Ogilvy once said, "When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of every dollar."

With so much riding on your headlines, here are some tips on how to make them great:

  1. Use your keywords. Again, the goal is not to stuff keywords into your headline, but to use them if it makes for a stronger headline.
  2. Use "How" or "Why." Titles like "How to Save for a Porsche in 18 Months" or "Why These Cat Videos Went Viral" promise to teach or entertain you.
  3. Stay positive. Negative headlines reflect poorly on your brand. Avoid words like "Scams," "Stop," "Mistakes," "Never," "Not," or "What You're Doing Wrong."
  4. Use lists. "5 Reasons," "6 Ways," "10 Tips" style headlines still work, because they promise meaningful takeaways in a quick read.
  5. Use adjectives. Make them vivid and tangible: "Here Are the Most Glorious Photos of the Grand Canyon You've Ever Seen."
  6. Make a promise. "The Simple Technique That Can Increase Your Business Efficiency by 30%" will be a goldmine of clicks. Who wouldn't be curious?
  7. Use a featured image. Be sure you have a featured image that matches the article topic, because this will be displayed with your article on social networks. [More on images here.]
  8. If all else fails, involve a celebrity. Titles like "Investing Secrets of Warren Buffett" or "How Apple Became Huge" work well, because people instantly connect with a celebrity or well-known brand.

It's probably most helpful to browse through headlines at sites like HuffPo, BuzzFeed, and Upworthy. These are the headline masters, and the more you can use their headline templates, the more clickable your content will be. Just be sure to have a co-worker ready to throw down a rope in half an hour, in case you fall down the link hole.

Next: Your opening sentence!