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5 Tips For Writing Headlines That Work

by Kevin D. Hendricks

The headline can be the most important copy in your blog entry, news article or e-mail newsletter. Sometimes it’s the only copy people will read—but if you do it right, they’ll keep on reading.

Here are 5 tips for writing headlines that work:

Communicate Something

More than anything your headline needs to communicate. It needs to tell people exactly what they’re going to get and why they should care. Keep it short and sweet, but tell people what they need to know.

Know Your Audience

Your headline has to hook people—but not just any people. You’ve got to hook your specific audience. That means your headline needs to highlight something interesting, news worthy or catchy for your audience. And what’s catchy for your audience may not be catchy for the average person on the street (and what you think is catchy may not be what your audience thinks is catchy).

Don’t Be Cute

Too often people go for cute and clever when trying to write headlines. It may work for your local newspaper, but that’s the last thing you should aim for online. Above all else your headline needs to work, and so often cute and clever headlines are easily misconstrued. People don’t get the pun or don’t understand how it relates, and they won’t stick around to figure it out.

Stand Alone

Remember that your headline needs to stand alone. A headline may show up in RSS feeds or search results with little or no context, so it needs to communicate the most important ideas all by itself. You can’t rely on teaser text or photos to fill in the context.

Insert your Main Keywords

Keywords for your article should appear in your headline. It’s a basic search engine optimization strategy, but it also makes sense. If your headline is communicating clearly, it’s pretty likely you’re using basic keywords that summarize your article.

For more on writing headlines that work check out usability guru Jakob Nielsen and the copy writing expert Copyblogger.



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