You can write the best story ever told, but without a good headline, I won’t read your article.
Experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of people who read a headline won’t go on to read an article because the headline didn’t grab their attention.
That doesn’t mean that you can write a mediocre article and focus solely on a catchy headline. It means that your headline has to provide a compelling reason for the reader to go beyond it.
Here are some do’s and don’ts.
Don’t Use Clickbait
In general, clickbait refers to content that deliberately misrepresents or over-promises something. It can be used to entice someone to click on a link that will take them to a web site.
When used in headline content, it attempts to induce someone to read your article.
- “The Most Unbelievable Weight Loss Technique You Need to Know About”
- “Seven Investments That Can Save You From the Coming Crash”
- “How to Keep Your Child From Turning Into a Drug Addict”
They all use exaggeration. Two of them incite fear and try to make you feel that if you don’t read further, your life is doomed.
Rarely do the articles connected to such headlines deliver on expectations. Readers will remember a click baiting writer who uses a byline. They won’t click again. Clickbait isn’t ethical and it doesn’t work.
Make Titles Emotionally Compelling so People will Read Your Article
Because I used to write blogs for attorneys, I have a wealth of resources to draw from.
I could use the following titles:
- “10 Unexpected Dangers in the Emergency Room”
- “The Boy Who Shouldn’t Have Died”
- “How Doctors’ Illegible Writing Endanger Patients”
I wish the above were exaggerated claims, but I can deliver on their promise.
Promise to Answer a Strong Need
Suppose you’re a healthcare provider who writes for the general public. Your headlines could be
- “How to Make Your Doctor Listen to You”
- “7 Questions You Should Always Ask Your Pharmacist”
- “Exercise: the Low-Cost Lifesaver”
Important as your headline is, your article must fulfill its implicit promise.
Make sure that you fully describe 10 ways to avoid unexpected dangers in the ER.
If you write about exercise, present a range of exercise practices so that people of different physical abilities and ages can benefit.
Put your own experience into the story. How did you make your doctor listen to you?
Also remember this: Click through is not the end of the story. Are people commenting on your articles? Do they sign up to receive your blog in their newsfeed? If you have a special offer, do they download it? Positive answers to these questions indicate growing success.
However, you need a compelling headline in order to have a chance at achieving those goals. Practice until you get it right so that people will read your article.
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Pat Iyer is an editor, author, book coach and ghostwriter who helps individuals create books that encourages their expertise to shine and advances their businesses. She has written or edited 48 of her own books.