Headlines: How to get ahead of the competition

Headlines can make or break a blog post and if we write blog posts often we know how hard it is to write headlines that get Business Scrabble lettersclicked. Headlines can boost or bury a business when writing about products and services, making the difference between a profitable business and a hobby job. They are that important.

It’s a juggling act to get a fine balance between inserting your keyword in the title or writing something witty or clever that will get clicked. [pullquote]It’s a juggling act to get a fine balance between inserting your keyword in the title or writing something witty or clever that will get clicked.[/pullquote] Trying to do both can be hell sometimes. Then it has to be relevant to the blog post…

Headlines don’t just get blogs read or retweeted, they also get emails opened, they get customers picking up the phone.

Crafting and tweaking a great headline has lot’s of plus points and one big downside: It’s us that have to write them. Usually with the clock ticking in the background, counting down the seconds to our deadline. It’s hard work and it’s constant work- we all have more than just one blog post or one email to write.

Thankfully there are some people and resources that make it look easy

How to write a Headline
This is a great starting point. This post breaks down the types of headlines that there are, and then gives and example of how it is used. If you are completely new to headline writing, this is the place to start.

One thing you may have noticed a lot of – how numbers are used in headlines
Bloggers need links. Links to and from each other and social sharing (twitter, Facebook, stumbles etc) and a great way to get links is a list post or a post with a number in the title, this post is a must read on how a number in your headline can look, again with examples.


Writing website content
takes a look at the ‘science’ of writing a headline and where the reader looks when she reads. This will help focus you on your headlines and their impact. More on that?  Web reading,writing and headlines from Lorelle. A longer post with examples to enable you to pick apart what works and what doesn’t, and the all important why.

I also like Dean Rieck at ProCopyTips, his whole site is an under used resource -  check it out, learn from it and drop him a comment to let him know how it’s working for you. A recent guest post on headlines is from Joshua Black and is another good read.

Sometimes though, you just need to do it and a formula is the answer – Headline swipe file will give you some formulas that work. If formulas are what you love and can get creative with (and you need more) then I suggest you pull out a pen and notepad and start writing headlines based on this resource – 102 headline writing formulas, it’s a PDF by Chris Garrett. They work very well with Ezine articles, I know because I have adapted and tried them. (A list of my ezines, if you want to check them out).

If you need a blow by blow account of how to construct a headline, then Sean D’Souza is your man. Sean is really clever, a talented writer that knows how to explain it in language us headline writing phobics understand. This post is part of a series, [pullquote]If you do one thing based on this blog, this is the thing you should do: subscribe to Sean’s Blog [/pullquote] so take a few minutes to click through and bookmark. On Sean’s blog there is a fab ebook that he gives away when you opt-in to his newsletter. He doesn’t spam people, so you are safe to sign up.

If you have not got a lot of time to study the blogs and resources here, then this post is a quick fix - 99 headline techniques.

If you have the time (and you should make the time) then testing your headlines and their effectiveness is something you should take a look at, and this post here on testing your headlines will be helpful.

Look closely you will see that just a few of the articles listed here are new. That should give you an indication that a great headline can stand the test of time, it gets found long after you have posted and forgot about it.

The next step is to actually write headlines and then write some more, and then some again, learning without doing will hold you back. 

What do you use to help you write great headlines?

Sarah

PS if you found this post useful, please like it on Facebook, bookmark it or tweet it out.

PPS if reading online is not your thing, and you prefer to read a book, I can recommend “How to write winning non fiction”by Suzan St Maur and “The Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing” by Jackie Barrie. We have reviewed both of these books on Birds on the Blog and found them excellent tools in helping improve our writing.

Join 1,000s of other smart women and subscribe
to our weekly updates.
Never miss another post (and get exclusive subscriber only content) 


Sarah Arrow
Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer. You want your blog to make a difference, so subscribe here and stay in touch, my updates will help you achieve content marketing success.
Sarah Arrow

Comment how YOU like

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve always said that the best people to write about issues like this are (intelligent) users rather than “experts,” because users research and deliver the information in the same way that all other users do – which is far more realistic than a load of theory being spouted by an “expert.” I’m probably cutting my own throat here but I think Sarah’s piece on headlines, here, is truly fab – gets the information over better than I could speaking as the “expert” I am! Great post, matey! Very valuable.

    All I would add, though, is watch out for the difference between hard-sell advertising headlines, and those for blog posts and editorial purposes. Headlines in the latter group need to be catchy as well as keyword rich, of course, but they shouldn’t try to grab readers in quite such a vice-like grip. You need to be a little more gentle when selling ideas, than when you’re selling products.

    • says

      *blushes* thanks Suze. Writing online is a never ending learning lesson!

      It is hard as you point out to get the balance, and grabbing readers by the throat and not letting go has a whiff of desperation to me, and nothing makes me run away faster than the desperate sale. I shall try and remember your advice when writing editorial :)

      • Morag says

        Sarah, you probably know from my Brain Tumour series of posts that I am not a headline writer by nature. I prefer to leave you to come up with something clicky, if you can :)

        There are a lot of links in the blog post, and I’ll come back and follow them all another day soon. At the moment, I’m still too busy digesting a rather lovely lunch! Mmm, liver and onions.

        • says

          Kev loves liver and onions, one of his fave dinners, sadly for him I refuse to cook body organs.Yes, there is a lot to read and digest, if you choose to do just one, sign up for Sean D’Souza’s newsletter – the ebook is fab and very informative. I have learned a huge amount from him and the copyblogger posts are also very good.

Loading Facebook Comments ...