Writing great headlines for your online content

Gotcha! Writing Great Headlines

Your content headline is a gotcha moment. It is the line of text that typically determines if someone will read your content or move on. When it comes to writing great headlines, the challenge is part art and part science.

The Science: Headline Research

Nielsen Norman Group does research to offer sound advice on all things related to websites. Their advice on headline writing, “Headings Are Pick-Up Lines: 5 Tips for Writing Headlines That Convert, ” is practical:

  • Make sure the headline works out of context.
  • Tell readers something useful.
  • Don’t succumb to cute or faddish vocabulary.
  • Omit nonessential words.
  • Front-load headings with strong keywords.

All sound recommendations. But this isn’t the whole formula. It omits the art of a great headline.

The Art: Grabbing Your Readers

The art side of great headline writing may follow or break some of the rules, but the result is a compelling line of text that gets people to click through to read more. These are the headlines that we see shared on social media, again and again.

So, while “you won’t believe what happened next,” may fall under cute or faddish vocabulary, it can be the line that makes someone dive into your content. “Awesome” may be over-used, but it signals a passion and excitement for the topic at hand that can draw people in. And, all the content labeled as “jaw-dropping,” really isn’t, but if that gets more eyeballs on the content it can’t be all bad.

The right language and tone in headlines are largely dependent on your content and your target audience. But don’t follow the “rules” at the expense of your gut on what might draw people into your content. Pay attention to views and open rates to help you understand what resonates with the people you want to reach.

Great Headlines Connect You

The headline is the entry to the content we want to share. A great headline makes someone want to dive in and read more. It connects you with your audience.

Pay attention to your headlines. They are the shortest but most important part of your content, worthy of as much of your time as you put into the content they introduce. Make sure they are doing all that they can to engage your audience with your content.