If you don’t learn how to write a good headline then the chances are you will have trouble attracting traffic to your website or blog. In a digital economy that can cost sales, because you need readers to turn up to buy your goods and services.
Newspapers and magazines have been perfecting the art for over a hundred years. Write a good headline and your circulation increases. Headlines are vital not just for newspapers but for advertisements both offline and online.
Even Facebook ads are not immune.
Twitter with only 140 characters is the perfect platform for honing headlines if you want people to click on the embedded link. Online stores need to create banners with headlines that make people click. The skill of headline writing is also vital for those important emails that you send out to your subscribers….if you want them opened.
The power of effective headlines was something I discovered after reading a series of printed marketing guides 20 years ago by Jay Abraham (an American marketing wizard). I implemented some of his ideas for print media and found they worked.
Print or web, the principles have not changed.
Stopping the car
Writing a good blog post or article often starts with the headline and it flows from there. I often stop what I am doing (even a conversation..politely of course) and write down a headline idea. Don’t let that inspiration escape.
Stopping the car has been done on several occasions.
So what are some headline types that work?
Headlines come in all shapes and sizes but some work better than others.
Here are a few types to get you thinking.
1. The “List” headline
These lists can be 5, 10 or mega. The mega list is often guaranteed to produce a ton of traffic. It means you might have to spend longer writing the article but it will be worth it.
Example: “57 ways to Boost your Blog Traffic“
2. The “How to”
Everyone is trying to work out how to do something. How to be rich, beautiful or fit. Tell them how and they will not only read the rest but tell their friends about your article and retweet and share on Facebook.
Example of this “How to Get More Retweets on Twitter“
3. “Get what you want” headline
People want to be wealthy, successful and healthy. Provide a promise that tells them how to do that and they will feel compelled to read the article.
4. “Best and the worst” headline
This is where you either go positive or negative. I have found that negative works best. But you can’t be writing those every day.
Example “30 Things you Shouldn’t Share on Social Media“
5. Facts, figures and statistics
Want to get readers to click then provide facts, figures and statistics that they can use at a dinner party or in a conversation.
6. Predictions and trends
Predicting the future or trends will pique people’s curiosity and make them want to look round the corner or over the next mountain.
Example: “7 Marketing Trends you Should Not Ignore“
Learn the skill of combinations of the above types and the results may surprise you. Eg. 21 Awesome Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics is a mini mega list with facts and figures in the headline.
Sometimes the inspiration and ideas don’t show up for bloggers and writers. So sometimes having a list of headline categories that work can be a good reference list.
What are 10 Headlines that drive traffic?
I thought I would take a look in the rear vision mirror and see what headlines have been successful for my blog over the last 12 months.
This exercise is beneficial in a few ways.
- It helps me understand what types of headlines work. I am often surprised. This posts traffic surprised me recently……5 Cool Apps to Save You from Social Media Overload. Maybe it was the combo of social, apps and mobile that did the trick.
- Guides me on what topics are hot…at the moment (no guarantees for the future on the rapidly evolving web though)
- Reminds me of the power of words
Here is the list of my top 10 headlines with the traffic numbers for each.
- 35 Mind Numbing YouTube Facts, Figures and Statistics – Infographic – 135,297 views
- 20 Awesome Facebook Cover Photos – 103,245 views
- How to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page – 99,289 views
- 10 Must Have WordPress Plugins Of 2012 Every Blogger Should Know About – 98,063 views
- 48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics Plus 7 Infographics – 90,601 views
- 72 Fascinating Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2012 – 88,896 views
- 20 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Likes and Engagement – 73,175 views
- 10 Powerful Tips to Increase Fan Engagement on Facebook – 72,623 views
- Who is Using Twitter? – 57,031 views
- The World’s 20 Most Popular Facebook Pages – 49,268
What are my insights after looking at the top ten?
My insights after looking at this list were expected on one hand and surprising on another.
- The standout is that “Mega lists” rock. Sometimes it feels redundant and like ground hog day. You cannot do it all the time but it works.
- Another insight is that the “How To” is in the mix and needs to be in your headline toolbox.
- “Facts, figures and statistics” are vital but you need to consider that they will date over time. My goal though with most of my content is to make it evergreen.
- What surprised me is that using words and phrases like awesome, mind numbing, fascinating, powerful, and significant were in the majority. Bit corny? Who cares if it produces results.
There is something else to pay attention to and that is that the lessons of the past doesn’t always predict the future. You need to take consideration of what is happening today to weave into your headline and topic creation.
Facebook was hot last year and the year before that. But watching my last few weeks of traffic and sharing data it is becoming ho-hum. Maybe everyone thinks that they know enough and there is nothing much new to learn.
What is hot?
Google+, Twitter, mobile and apps are tempting and topical for readers at the moment. The latest traffic numbers support this.
Don’t spend too much time looking back. Keep testing and observing what is working and respond with content that meets the beat of the street.
What about you?
What are the headline types that have worked for you? Have you been surprised?
Look forward to hearing your stories, experiences and insights in the comments below.
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