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    Headline

    The Anatomy of a Perfect Headline

    828 315 Jason McMahon

    Don’t you just love headlines? The way a great headline grabs your attention from out of nowhere and compels you to find out the full story. Sadly, most headlines don’t deliver. It isn’t that they’re not interesting enough, don’t accurately sum up the story or effectively lead into the tale about to be told, it’s just that there are so many of them and us humans, well, we just don’t have time to act on them all.

    You’ve probably read the David Ogilvy quote, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” That’s a great quote from the godfather of copywriting, one that all copywriters would do well to take note of but, unfortunately, it’s not entirely true.

    You see, most writers find that ten times as many people (if not more) read their headlines as read the content of their articles, so if one in five people went on to read the body copy, that would be quite an achievement. Perhaps an achievement worthy of blogging about — “How I Wrote a Headline That Rocked My Audience’s World”. Something along those lines.

    When a headline resonates with readers and compels them to read the full story the world is a wonderful place for the writer, one filled with hope, optimism and joy. But when a headline fails to bring in the readership the article is deserving of (because it’s jam-packed with great advice), the world can be a dark and gloomy place, filled with misery and despair.

    Fortunately, there’s no need for writers to get all morose and melancholy. There are so many practical, easy-to-use formulas and strategies which can be used to create headlines that compel readers to read on, going past the headline, on to the body of the article and, if the article is worth reading, all the way to the end of the article. Here are twelve for you to try.

    • [Irresistible Headline]: Subheading

    A long-tail headline that, with the right words, subject matter and placement, can really grab the attention of readers and get them onto the body of the copy. The formula (like the following headline formulas) is super easy to follow: Begin with a great opening statement, add a colon, then create a compelling subheading to complement the opener.

    Examples:

    “The Fine Art Of Headline Writing: How To Write Headlines That Resonate”

    “Why Your Headlines Are Boring Your Audience To Death: Here’s How To Revive Them”

    1. Here is a Method That is Helping [Blank] to [Blank]

    This formula works with most target audiences and subjects. Once you have identified your target audience and a pain point that they’re looking to solve, fill in the blanks with a topic and a related benefit.

    Examples:

    “Here’s A Formula That’s Helping Newbie Bloggers To Create Click-worthy Headlines”

    “Here’s A Method That’s Empowering Bloggers To Write Irresistible Headlines”

    1. The Secret Of [Blank]

    Whether you’re sharing expert knowledge that few people are savvy enough to know about or a secret insider tip that’s going to blow your readers’ minds, “The Secret Of ___” formula has been proven to work. Though bear in mind that your ‘secrets’ need to be interesting enough to read about.

    Examples:

    “The Secret Of Writing Headlines That Compel People To Continue Reading”

    “The Secret Of Creating Compelling Headlines In Your Sleep”

    1. Little Known Ways to [Blank]

    Similar to the “The Secret of ___” method but a little less common and a touch more intriguing. You could split test (A/B test) a “Little Known” headline against a “The Secret of” headline to see which delivers the best results.

    Examples:

    “Little Known Ways to Compel Readers To Continue Reading”

    “Little Known Ways to Write Compelling Headlines Without Really Trying”

    1. The SEO Headline

    Incorporating keywords into your headlines is a top tactic as it increases the exposure of your blogs, putting your stories in front of more people. This formula is by the good folks at Unbounce, a great source of information on landing pages, conversion rates and all that jazz. The formula is as follows: [Adjective] & [Adjective] [SEO Keyword Phrase] That Will [Super Desirable Results]

    Examples:

    “Effective and Useful Headline Writing Tips That Will Get Your Blogs More Readers”

    “Tried and True Headline Writing Formulas That Will Get More People Reading Your Stories”

    1. Now You Can Have [Something Desirable] [Excellent Outcome]

    If there ever was a “You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too” headline, this is it. This is a popular headline formula used to entice readers to click on ads, blogs and just about anything else you can think of.

    Examples:

    “Now You Can Have Readers Raving About Your Blogs And Watch Them Go Viral”

    “Now You Can Have Your Blogs Reach More Readers And Get Your Brand More Exposure”

    1. What Everybody Should/Ought to  Know About [Blank]

    The intention of this headline (like most others, in all honesty) is to pique the interest of readers by, without stating it outright, questioning whether they’re aware of the information contained in the article.

    Examples:

    “What Everybody Should Know About Writing Killer Headlines”

    “What Everyone Ought To Know About Creating Headlines That Connect With Audiences”

    1. Who Else Wants [Blank]?

    These headlines imply that among the target audience exists the desire for or to do ___. John Caples, the author of Tested Advertising Methods, is known to use this formula.

    Examples:

    “Who Else Wants To Write Click-worthy Headlines?”

    “Who Else Wants To Write Headlines That Compel People To Read On?”

    1. How to Survive Your First [Blank]

    A reassuring headline, one intended to resonate with the audience by leading into (what would ordinarily be) an article that comforts readers with a tried and true example to follow.

    Examples:

    “How To Survive Your First Headline Writing Assignment”

    “How To Survive The Challenge Of Writing Your First Major Headline”

    1. [Do Something] Like [Someone Famous]

    Gatorade started this craze with its early 90s Michael Jordan campaign — “Be Like Mike”. Start the headline with your topic and match it to someone famous who’s a world-class example of whatever it is that your blog covers.

    Examples:

    “Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines Like David Ogilvy”

    “Create Compelling Headlines Like Gene Schwartz”  

    1. The Ultimate/Beginner’s Guide to [Blank]

    Including the word ‘guide’ in your headlines indicates that readers will learn something useful or valuable by reading past the headline. Just make sure the content of your blog backs this up by being as useful or as valuable (or both) as readers expect it to be.  

    Examples:

    “The Ultimate Guide To Writing Killer Headlines”

    “The Beginner’s Guide To Creating Click-worthy Blog Titles”

    1. [Number or Trigger Word] & [Interesting Adjective] & [Keyword] & [Promise]

    This formula is from conversion king Neil Patel and his Quick Sprout team. They’re of the opinion that the perfect headline is six words (or thereabouts), so aim for a six-word headline and see how you go.

    Examples:

    “Infallible Headline Methods to Increase Readership”

    “Six Irresistible Headline Formulas You Must Try”

    Is 25 the Magic Number?

    Many sources claim the key to writing great headlines entails writing at least 25 headlines for every story. “But won’t that take all day?”, you ask. Not really, if you brainstorm 25 titles for your blog post or ad it should take you about 15 minutes, perhaps even less, depending on the subject, your readership and how creative you are! Once you’ve got your 25 headlines, pick the top 3-4 to run A/B tests on and see what results you get. You may be surprised.

    Bambrick Media is a digital marketing company in Brisbane, providing SEO, PPC, Social Media and Website Design services to companies locally and right across Australia. We have helped over 500 businesses get more from their digital marketing spend and welcome the opportunity to assist you. To get in touch, give us a call on (07) 3216 1151, or via our Contact Us page

    AUTHOR

    Jason McMahon

    Marketing @bambrickmedia, lover of Lucy, the ocean & caramel popcorn.

    All stories by: Jason McMahon
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