There was a time when newspaper editors and copywriters used to junk dozens of headlines before choosing one. Even today, some of the largest publications in the world have this age old practice. In the virtual world, especially that of blogging, social media and endless contents, the focus on a good headline is shrinking.
A good headline generates traction, hooks a reader, compels the reader to think (even if it is for a second or two) and convinces the reader at a conscious or subconscious level that he or she must read what’s beyond that headline. Whether it is an email or a link shared on Twitter, a blog on the official site or an article in some directory popping up on search engine results, it is the headline that would do the first trick of gaining attention and only then would you get to convert your target audience into readers.
Formula for a Good Headline
Number / Trigger Word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
Note – You can change the sequence of the various words in the headline, as long as it makes grammatical sense and reads right.
Let us understand this formula for a good headline. It is fairly easy to understand why there should be a trigger word or a number. We love numbers and ‘5 Ways To Keep Your Car Clean’ is a better headline than ‘Ways To Keep Your Car Clean’. The adjective plays a key role as well. ‘How Can You Effortlessly Sell Your House’ is a better headline than ‘How To Sell Your House’. There has to be a promise that would deliver more than desired. ‘How Can You Effortlessly Sell Your House In Less Than 24 Hours’ is a better headline that the other two.
A number tells us that the article is finite and definite. Without a number, we don’t get an idea of how long the article or content is. With a trigger word, we get a little more push. With a rarely used adjective or one that’s not overused, we get more interested and finally with the promise we end up checking out an article or a post. When we talk about rarely used adjectives, we imply using words such as effortlessly instead of easy, untangled instead of simple and the likes.
The more you can stir the imagination of your target audience just with the headline, the more success you would have with your content.