What are the top 5 things you need to make a good headline?
July 28, 2010
Just like when I’m a designing a room and want to create something that makes a guest say, “Wow, I want to see more,” I try do the same with the headlines on my blog posts.
Headlines on the web are tricky, though, because they have to both be utilitarian (i.e. being SEO–search engine optimization–friendly) and convey some sort of personality.
I personally would like to try and infuse more humor into my headlines, but sometimes it’s hard to achieve that goal in such a small amount of words. That’s one thing I’m working on, and one thing that belongs on my list of what makes a good headline.
This list is ever expanding, but so far, this is what I have.
A good headline is…
- Funny! Or maybe I should say it exudes some kind of fun or humorous personality. Examples of my attempts at funny headlines are: To Do: Become a Cross Dresser and Frequently Asked Questions: What happened to your hair?
- Informative. It tells you what you’ll be getting right away. These types of headlines do best with your SEO. If you know that people have been searching for certain types of keywords relevant to your content, but they aren’t landing on your site, try using those keywords in headlines. Some examples of this are: Your Turn: The Best Local Wedding Planners In Your Area and What’s in or out? Design Style Trends
- Mysterious. Not to be totally contradictory, but sometimes you don’t want them to know exactly what you’re talking about right away. You want to add a little mystery into the equation to keep them reading. (Though, frankly, I must admit that I hate teases. I just want to KNOW right away!) Examples of this are: A Little Note About Today and ‘Til Death Do Us Part.
- Number friendly. People love lists. They love top 10 lists, top 5 lists, top 20 lists… If you incorporate a number into your headline, you’ll probably get them to click to read more. (Notice how I incorporated that trick into my headline for this post. Here are more examples too: 6 Tips For Creating A High-End Website and 7 Must-Do’s for Your To Do List.)
- Sometimes in the form of a question. Web content is all about engaging and interacting with the user. If you ask a question, they’ll automatically seek answers. Examples of this are: Sometimes I ask myself…why do I have to put up with bad service? and Is it better to go naked or covered?
Bottom line: spend a little extra time thinking about your headlines. Since they’re the gateway into your content, and sometimes the only thing people will see, it will be well worth the effort. Oh, and take note: in general I think a good headline only needs one of these things to be considered “good”, but if you can somehow incorporate more than one from this list, even better.
I’d love to hear your tips on what makes a good headline. If you have any examples, please share those too (especially if they’re from your own blog.)