Hit them with a Headline

No matter what kind of a website you have, the one thing that’s always true is that your headlines are really important.

Headlines are going to vary based on

  • Your goal
  • Your audience
  • Where the headline will be promoted

First, “what’s the goal of this headline?” In other words, what do you want your headline to do for you?

If your headline is intended to boost your social presence, it needs to have viral and linkbait elements. If your headline is for an incredibly interesting post, it needs to have engaging language.

Second, ask “who is this headline for?

Your audience needs to be at the forefront of your mind when you write a headline. Who are these people? What do they like? How do they think? What’s their favorite drink?

You will have to write a headline that’s basically a personal letter to your target persona. Think of them; write for them; target them.

Finally, ask “where is this going to be promoted?”

The final factor has to do with where the headline is going to be promoted. For example, Twitter’s character limit prevents you from posting long headlines. Google+ and Facebook use easy picture embeds. These key differences mean critical alterations to the headline, associated image, and any preview text.

The high-level headline types

In the field of headline creation, there are five traditional types called the “high-level headline types.”

  1. Normal (Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful) – you’ll see these just about everywhere. Traditional newspapers and magazines practice this kind of headline creation.
  2. Question (What are Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful?) – strategic or scintillating questions have been a staple of headlines for a long time. It’s assumed that these questions will interest readers enough for them to read the article to get the answer to the question.
  3. How to (How to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful) – the “how to” headline style is a great way to offer something directly to your readers that they are interested in. It’s a problem-solution approach, and it works really well.
  4. Number (30 Ways To Make Drinking Tea More Delightful) – the numbered headline is probably the most popular to-date.
  5. Reader-Addressing (Ways You Need to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful) – there are plenty of article titles that confront the reader with an alleged need. These headlines often start with “why.”

Headlines boil down to this: words.

Since your article’s success depends on the headline, spend plenty of time tweaking words. Words, sounds, definitions, synonyms, active verbs — these are the ingredients of headlines.