David Ogilvy, “The Father of Advertising,” said “on the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body.”  I feel that this is a true statement.  I have studied wine for a few years now, but %90 of the time I will choose a wine based on the label then any other factor.  We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but its human nature to do so.  In order to help with this there are four factors to keep in mind. Your headline needs to be unique, descriptive, specific, and hold importance.  Countless bloggers and writers will spend a significant amount of time on their headlines, so let’s get started.

  1. A headline needs to be unique- The title should be characteristic to the writer and to the piece. To do this you need to care deeply about the words that are used.                                                                                                                                                                                   Only put words in that you would use naturally.  In his book “On writing well” William Zinsser says “Readers want the person who is talking to them to sound genuine. Therefore a fundamental rule is: be yourself.” If you wouldn’t say “buy this blender with five low payments of $29.95,” then don’t say it.                                                                                                                                                                  The title should also spark interest from your reader, remember this is your one chance to have your media chosen over the next one. Neil Patel said in his book “The definitive guide to copywriting,” “if you sound the same as everyone else, you’re automatically going to put customers to sleep, but if you do something different, you’ll stand out, your message will be refreshing, and you may delight your customers enough to get them to buy from you.” Take this tag line from copy hackers, its unique and surprising.  This would be something that would grab the attention of readers.

2. A headline should convey the importance of your article– Add gravity to your headline by asking a question, or use trigger words.

Jeff Goins said in 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines, “to use what, how to, why, and when, because these are trigger words.”

Try this formula

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Example: Take the subject “bathing elephants.” You could write an article entitled,

“How to Bath an Elephant” or “Why I Love Bathing Elephants.”

Another (more serious) example: Take a bold promise like “selling your house in a day.”

Apply the formula and you get: “How You Can Effortlessly Sell Your Home in Less than 24 Hours”

People don’t want to be tricked into reading something boring; they want to be drawn into something exciting. Make it worth their while.

In her post  Winning Headline Strategies and the Psychology Behind Them Courtney Seiter says “questions are powerful in the brain because they prime our curiosity. Just seeing a question mark starts to stimulate your brain.”

3. Needs to be descriptive– A headline that tells what will actually be in your article will help you build a trusting relationship with your reader. If your headline and your content don’t match then the reader will abandon your site and most likely not return.

4. Keep it simple stupid (K.I.S.S.)– The most important factor of all would be to just keep it simple.  David Rieck  from copy blogger puts it nicely.  “When a writer tries to sound smart using complex words, they in fact sound more confusing.” Take for example this sentence:

Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly. 

Wouldn’t it be better to title this study something like:

The effect of using big words when you don’t need them?

To sound smart, you must stop trying to sound smart. Brilliant writing is simple writing, a relevant idea delivered clearly and directly. Neil Patel says in cases like this, it’s much better to provide enough specific information to compel readers to continue reading than to write something “clever” that doesn’t give readers adequate information to decide whether or not they’re interested. He also said in an interview with interview with Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income when it comes to headlines six to eight words seems to be enough.

says in his post on 17 easy tricks how to write catchy titles and headlines direct headlines go straight to the heart of the matter without trying to sound intriguing or clever.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Catchy Headlines
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The father of advertising hit the nail on the head when he referred to the headline being the most important factor in writing.  As you study your headline try to remember that your audience will judge your title first.  Remember be unique, important, descriptive, and simple and you can’t go wrong.

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Thanks

Ian

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