16 points to consider when writing a blog post headline [infographic]
Writing a headline for your blog post isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, some professional bloggers spend more time on their post’s headlines than they do on the main content. This isn’t particularly because they find it difficult, but that they want to get it right. A good headline can sometimes be make-or-break regarding getting sufficient readers to visit the blog and read the wonderful stuff that accompanies it.
I am, by no means, an expert headline writer. But even though this is an extreme art, I can at least strive to improve what I write by stopping and thinking first about what I call my posts before I click that publish button. Here is an infographic that gives you some pointers to consider:
And of course I’ve provided you with some code you could paste into your own posts if you want to share this infographic with your readers. Remember to put it into the Text mode of your Edit Post page.
1. Attract attention
The first thing your blog reader sees is the post’s headline. This is also poignant because usually this is the main visible element of your post seen on social media, apart from the link that accompanies it. Therefore it needs to be incredibly enticing to make the reader click on it to gain access to the remainder of the post.
2. Select an audience
Attracting the correct kind of reader is important or your post will be rejected before it has a chance to prove itself. Therefore the headline needs to be very clear in every respect about what information the post contains.
3. Deliver a promise
Part of the incentive to encourage people to read your post is the promise of something good. Therefore it’s important to deliver exactly what it says on the tin. Since everybody is looking for something that will make their lives better, the headline is the first point of call to point them in the right direction.
4. Communicate a benefit
Social networking, of which blogging is a part, works best in regard to giving rather than taking. Therefore the post should contain sufficient added value that will benefit the reader, especially if they put it into action, and the headline should be clear about what the benefit is and how it can relate to the reader’s expectations.
5. Make it simple and understandable
It’s important for the reader to sufficiently ‘get’ the subject of the post quickly and easily, which will influence the split second decision they will make whether they want to read the rest of the content or not. Therefore simplicity in both subject matter and delivery is key here.
6. Don’t get too clever
If a headline is too complicated or cryptic it could easily be misinterpreted, or if it takes the reader too long to fully understand the correct meaning, the post may be glossed over. Remember recognition of whether the subject matter is of any interest take less than a second, of which failing to understand it could result in a wasted opportunity.
7. Don’t undermine the reader
Don’t make assumptions about your audience, annoy them or make them feel stupid before they have a chance to get to know your blog properly. Your headline needs to respect your reader’s intelligence in order that the post’s contents can deliver what they both need and appreciate at the same time.
8. Provoke the reader’s senses or emotions
Effective use of psychology will enable you to start understanding how your readers think and react to the subject matter of your posts. Sometimes negative suggestions can be productive too. Include something in the headline your audience can relate to, especially from a personal situation, to make it easier or more desirable for them to want to find out what you have to say.
9. Spark some curiosity
If you can arouse their interest in a particular subject and maybe tease them a little bit about it, this will increase the incentive factor that will make them want to click on your headline to read the post’s contents and find out a bit more.
10. Focus on the end result
You should always have a good reason to write a post, combined with a solid and worth-while call to action at the end to give your readers something practical to do. Therefore the headline should reflect this by revealing the benefits that are consistent with the post’s objectives.
11. Use numbers
Popping numbers into a headline is always good, especially if they provide quality as well as quantity. It is very easy to curate a list post (like this one!), and somehow the higher the number presented in the headline, the more value it seems to portray. People are always looking for solutions to a problem, so a quick list to deliver this is just the job!
12. Use your expertise
By revealing your expertise in your headline, your credibility is immediately enhanced. Use this to your advantage by highlighting a problem your readers may have with the promise of the solution in the post, especially if presented in a way your audience can immediately relate to.
13. Reveal a secret
Secrets always arouse the curiosity factor, especially if you make your readers feel they are the only ones that will get to know what you want to share. The incentive will be increased if they realise this special information will improve their lives and set them apart from their colleagues or competitors.
14. Empathise with your readers
Show that you care about your readers and their problems, especially if you are able to resonate with their way of thinking. Find a way your headline can promote you’ve been through their pain before, and you want to share your solution with them so they don’t have to suffer the same way you did.
15. Write a provocative statement or question
Sometimes an outrageous statement in a headline can draw attention to your blog, but be careful, make sure you can back it up in the rest of your post. Raising your reader’s hackles or fuelling their anger may induce them to find out what you have to say, even if they don’t agree with you, but then you’ve benefitted from their response, especially if they are compelled to leave a comment as well.
16. Announce some exciting news!
People love the good-feeling factor, of being “in the know”, especially if it stimulates their curiosity. It’s all about being part of a community, where good (and bad) news is shared amongst a like-minded audience, especially if they feel that are able to form part of what’s going on.
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