Headlines are one of the most important parts of any piece of copy. They can set the tone of your piece and introduce your audience to your offering. But, as with many other parts of the copy, you can improve upon what you’re given. That’s what this article is all about; giving you five tips on how to create a better headline.
1. Choose a topic that’s both surprising and relevant
Your headline should grab your reader’s attention and keep it. To do so, you need to choose a topic that’s both surprising and relevant to your target audience. Let’s say you’re writing an online piece for a travel website. Your topic could be ‘Family-friendly holidays 2019′. While this may not sound like a particularly exiting topic, if you’re looking for online content to support your travel business, it’s pretty relevant. After all, who wouldn’t like to go on a family-friendly holiday? Your headline should reflect what’s inside – if it’s relevant and surprising, the reader is more likely to be interested in the content surrounding it.
2. Craft an interesting opening
The first part of your headline should give the reader a good idea of what the rest of the piece is going to be about. This is known as the hook. Your hook should establish your thesis statement (you’re going to discuss what the article is about, why it’s important, and what you’re going to offer), the topic of the article (in this case, family-friendly holidays), and what specific interests your audience has (in this case, families).
You can utilize a number of techniques to craft an interesting and eye-catching hook. First, choose a relevant keyword or expression and incorporate it into the first sentence of your article. Next, add a verb to the sentence to make it sound more active. This will help establish your credibility as an expert in your field – after all, who would knowingly buy a family vacation package from someone they didn’t trust?
Here’s an example of a poorly written hook: “This year’s travel trends: More solo travel, more off-peak days, and more flexibility in work hours.” Now, let’s change the hook to something that’s slightly better: “What solo travel enthusiasts wish they could do but can’t.” Not only have I added a verb to the sentence (‘can’t’ instead of ‘can’t’), I’ve also changed the wording a bit to make it more interesting. As discussed above, an interesting and eye-catching hook is something that stops the reader in their tracks and makes them want to learn more. So, using the same solo travel example above, if someone came across this headline in search of information on solo travel, they would be unlikely to click on it. However, if they were looking for information on flexible work hours and wished they could do more traveling, they might be tempted to click.
3. Keep the headline concise
As discussed above, the first part of your headline should introduce your article’s topic and establish your credibility as an expert in your field. Concise is a relative term, but you should keep your headline as short as possible while still being able to express what you want to. In general, the shorter your headline, the more likely it is to appear in a reader’s social media feed. For example, let’s say you have a blog post with the following headline: “The Top Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Family.” While this might be a useful piece of information for certain audiences, those reading it on social media probably won’t have the time to read the entire article. In this case, the headline is kind of verbose. Better to shorten it to something like: “The Top Holiday Gift Ideas.” The shorter the headline, the more attention it will likely get. Concise is not synonymous with short, but it can help!
4. Choose a relevant image
An image can help your audience understand your message better than a thousand words. In the same way that a picture is worth a thousand words, an image is worth a thousand words. To grab the attention of your readers, choose an image that’s relevant to the topic of your article. If you can, find a relevant event that you can photograph and put into a compelling context. For example, if you’re writing about solo travel, you might want to choose an image of a solo traveler.
The advantage of a relevant image is that it gives the reader a clear idea of what they’re getting into. If you try to use an image that’s not relevant to your topic, the reader may assume that you’re trying to pass off clever copy – something that’s less likely to happen if the image is relevant.
5. Use all the right hashtags
Hashtags are relevant clusters of keywords or words that exist within a certain topic or niche. They can be used to find and follow content that’s within a certain topic or niche. For example, if you’re writing a blog post on holiday gift ideas for families, you might want to put #familygiftideas or #grandparentsday2019 or #solo travel into your hashtags. If you use the right hashtags, you’ll increase the likelihood that your post will be seen by the right audience.
The trick is to use all the right hashtags – not just the popular ones, but also the less used ones that are more specific to your topic. If you don’t use all the relevant hashtags, your content may appear to be suspiciously keyword-stuffed.
When you write a headline for the sake of a headline, you’re doing it wrong. Instead, craft a compelling opening that will draw the reader in and keep their attention long enough to read the article. This way, when they do read the article, it will be because they were genuinely interested in your content and what you had to say.