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Writing Tips: Five Ways to Write Headlines They Can’t Ignore

In Writing Tips on January 9, 2008 at 6:26 am

Writing articles for the web involves learning the basics of journalistic style and advertising tactics. You’re presenting a product (your article) and hoping that people will read beyond the summary to click through to your masterpiece.

No matter how great your article is, it’s the headline is what will turn a simple glance into a full-on read. Think about what causes you to pick up that issue of People magazine at the checkout line, or turn to the middle of a newspaper after only reading a few words on the front page. It’s the headline that has piqued your interest and now you’re begging for more.

The headline is one of the most important elements of a successful article on the web; a few choice words will either make or break your article in the chaotic medley of topics found on the internet.

While keywords are an important part of the right headline, your focus needs to be on the reader. What key message or idea can you present in just eight words or less?

Here are some tips for developing an enticing, creative, and unique headline for your content:

1. Ask a question. Help the reader resonate with the topic when they read the question to themselves and are now left wondering, ‘Why Don’t Polar Bears Eat Penguins?’ or Should You Tattoo Your Head to Conceal Baldness? It’s a technique that’s been used for decades in copywriting, and will work for many of your web articles too.

2. Turn the article into a list. From the ‘Top Ten Reasons to Watch Walker Texas Ranger’* to Five Ways to Lose Five Pounds Before the New Year, you’ll be able to grab the reader’s attention with a promise of a quick read.
*not a real article, pending research on whether there are more than two…

3. Use the power of exaggeration. How could you avoid an article that teaches you How to Stay Young Forever (someone really discovered the fountain of youth without me knowing?) or How to Motivate Yourself to Do Just About Anything (really, anything?). Even if you know it sounds too good to be true, you’re likely to click for more anyway; in some cases, the article may actually offers some valuable information.

4. Share your secrets. The Secret to Wealth, Happiness, and Success just may lie in this article ahead. Encourage people to link a positive state of mind with some special insights you just happen to be sharing in your article.
Top Secrets of Southern Cooking is bound to have you whipping up sweet potato pie in not time.

5. Show them how to party like a rockstar. A ‘how to’ like a famous person/professional can attract readers of all tastes, especially when it’s combined with an exaggeration. How to Cook Like a Celebrity on an Average Man’s Budget and How to Always Look Like You Stepped Right Out of a Salon are a couple of helpful and click-worthy articles.

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