Do you struggle with writing headlines? Whether it’s for a blog post, email subject line or the landing page of a website, a headline is your first chance to make an impression on your reader. If you can’t capture someone’s attention in just a few seconds, you’ve lost a reader and potential customer.
Headlines help you develop a relationship with your prospect. They allow you to connect with the reader and show that you understand him. A good headline delivers a complete message. It should focus on just one big idea. Even if your product has many benefits, your headline should emphasize the most important one.
What makes a headline great?
A good headline entices your prospect to read more. A great headline grabs your prospect’s attention by telling him something he’s craving to know.
How do you figure out what your prospect needs to know? You must tap into his self-interest. You’ve got to know your prospect inside and out, and understand the benefits your product or service will bring to his life. Only then can you write a headline that will truly speak to his inner desires.
The best headlines also contain at least three of the following components: Urgency, Usefulness, Uniqueness and Ultra-specific. Let’s examine each one:
Urgency – Your headline should give your prospect an urgent reason to want this product or service today, now, right away.
Usefulness – Your headline should communicate a thing of value to your prospect.
Uniqueness – Your headline should suggest that what you are offering your prospect is somehow different than every other solution currently available.
Ultra-Specific – Your headline should avoid being vague at all costs.
What about keywords?
One of the challenges about writing headlines for the web is trying to figure out how to incorporate keywords into your copy or blog title. If you’re writing a landing page, the headline on that page needs to be keyword-rich so your prospect will find it through search. But it also needs to give the prospect a reason to stay on the page and continue the engagement.
When it comes to blog articles, keywords and clever titles don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It just requires a little creative thought. Put yourself in your reader’s mind. Think about what questions they are asking about your product or service.
Here are a couple of examples of headlines that are clever and keyword-rich:
- "9 Fast and Furious Vine and Instagram Videos"
- "Crazy Crayon Carvings Bring Pop Culture to Life"
Ultimately, for a headline to work, it has to be specific enough to be intriguing, but vague enough to provoke curiosity. Here is an example:
- "Why People Hate the Ad Industry"
The headline refers to a specific industry – advertising. But it’s also vague. The author implies that “all” people hate the ad industry. That seems like an overgeneralization. It piques your interest to find out why the author believes this statement is true.
7 Headline Writing Formulas
There are a few “tried and true” formulas you can use to help you write a great headline. Here are a few examples:
1. The “How to” headline – This is one of the most popular and most effective formulas for headline writing. These two words act as a command for your prospect or reader to carry out.
“How to monetize your mobile apps”
“How to drive traffic to your website from YouTube”
2. The Big Benefit headline – This type of headline puts the best, most compelling benefit for your reader up front and center.
“Lose weight fast with this one tip”
“Earn $25-$75 for each email you process”
3. The News-Style headline – This type of headline sounds like something you’d read in a newspaper. It works well when you’re promoting a new product, or uncovering new facts about an old product.
“New online workshop: grow your business with video”
“NASA Doctor reveals how to reverse brain age”
4. The Anxiety headline – this type of headline scares your prospect into paying attention. You present a problem along with the hope of solving it.
“Is a slow website killing your business?”
“Are you blocking the abundance you’ve asked for?
5. The Question headline – This is another popular headline formula. To use it successfully, you need to ask a question that implies a promise, benefit or solution. Just make absolutely sure you know what your reader or prospect’s answer will be.
“Why should marketers care about making videos?”
“Do Facebook ads work?”
6. The Guarantee headline – This headline formula can be pretty effective when you’re pretty sure your prospect wants your product, and you want to give him a reason to choose yours over the competition.
“Play the drums in 7 days or your money back”
“The most comfortable boots you’ll ever wear, or your money back!”
7. The Number headline – Adding a number to your headline is a sure-fire way to get more readers. In fact, blog articles with numbers in the headline get three-to-eight times more traffic than those without.
“3 secrets to surviving holiday food temptations”
“10 tips for increasing engagement on Instagram”
One way you can improve your speed and skill at writing headlines is to write a half dozen or so headlines for each of these seven types. Six times seven gives you 42 headlines to choose from. That’s a good place to start. With practice, you’ll be able to come up with some great headlines that will engage and motivate your prospect to take action.
Gloria Rand is an SEO Copywriter & Social Media Consultant, who specializes in helping small businesses achieve online visibility, profits and sales. You can view her last article for SEMrush here: "7 Tips for Creating Compelling Web Copy that Converts."