How to write a headline: 10 recipes for creating slaughter headers

Before publishing an article, review, slideshow or video, be sure to take a few minutes to make sure you choose the best title. A good headline is a matter of life and death in content marketing. The Internet is increasingly becoming a boiling cauldron of chaos, you have less and less time to attract the attention of your audience.

By choosing a good name for the material, you instantly receive a reader response. The heading helps your readers quickly determine if they need your article or presentation, why they should buy, download or open a page with your content, and what benefits they get by clicking on the appropriate link.

By choosing a bad title, you make your article, presentation, or other content invisible to most of the audience. The title is the most important element of Internet pages, advertisements, videos. It draws the attention of the audience to the content. Materials go unnoticed if you use a gray and nondescript headline.

This article will introduce you to the main characteristics of good headlines. It includes 10 questions, answering which you will learn to create high-quality and “catchy” headlines. You can also use the header evaluation table, which is a handy tool for quickly determining their quality.

The examples discussed below are mainly related to books. The names of the authors of most of them have become brands, and the books remain bestsellers, including thanks to good headlines. However, these examples remain valid for content of any type — and, above all, for web content.

Here are our 10 questions that we recommend to ask yourself when writing headlines:

1. Does your headline promise your audience benefits?

Choose a name that clearly informs readers of the benefits and benefits that they will receive through your product or your service. The best headline solves the problem or helps the audience achieve the desired goal.

Compare the following names:

  • Tools and techniques of graphic design.
  • Improve your design: a guide to using basic tools and techniques.

The first heading tells the reader about the content of the article. The second title describes the benefits that the reader will receive after reading the article.

2. Does your title contain specific details that emphasize its relevance and value?

Specific details in the title, such as exact numbers, draw additional attention to your content. The figures structure the information, which can be seen on the example of the book "7 Skills of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. Imagine the name of this book without numbers - "Skills of highly effective people." It doesn't sound very convincing, right?

The numbers in the title also help to "eat an elephant bit by bit at a time." This is a step by step achievement of a complex goal. For example, pay attention to the title of the book by Terry Orbach "6 steps to an ideal marriage." Another example is the article of Damir Khalilov "100 main skills of an SMM specialist" (although, in our opinion, a round figure sounds somewhat strained, as if the author fitted the results to a "round" figure, it would be much better to headline the article "97 or 102 skills ... ").

Moreover, the numbers can make your content more relevant by offering the reader a specific timeline or schedule for achieving the goal. How do you like the name of the book "Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days", which was used by the authors Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager? But the headline "Dump 21 pounds in 21 days: Martha Weinhard's detox diet" sounds even better. The title of this book shows the reader exactly how many pounds of excess weight he will lose and for what period. Buyers of books on diet and other methods of weight correction probably want to know the exact results of applying the described methods.

Another example on the subject of numbers is the diary of designer Yana Frank, "365 days of a very creative person." But, as you already understood, there are a lot of examples of good headlines using numbers. The main thing is the ability to beat these numbers.

3. Does your title take into account the target audience for which the content is intended?

Identify targeted consumers of your content using a header where possible. It makes your materials personalized. You can identify target readers by directly naming them or specifying their key characteristics. The more obvious this is done, the better.

The CJ Hayden book "Attract Customers: A 28-day marketing course for professionals, coaches and consultants" defines an audience by occupation. Heidi Muroff and Sharon Meisel use the headline “What to expect when you expect” to point out target book buyers, describing the circumstances in which they find themselves. A similar technique is used by the author of the book “Survival Guide for Single Moms” Patrice Karst.

Jay Conrad Levinson remains the acknowledged master of targeting specific market segments. It was he who published the book "Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days." After that, Levinson adapted his ideas for consumers working in different niches. This is how the Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, "... for financial consultants," etc. appeared. In addition, Levinson wrote a separate book describing the use of his online approach - Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet.

Some authors manage to identify the target audience, telling who the readers are not. For example, Robin Williams created the design for non-design book (The Non-Designer's Design Book), literally “A Book on Design for Non-Designers”.

4. Does your headline help position your content?

A series of books "... for dummies" is one of the best examples of content positioning using the title. For example, the book "Red Wine for Dummies" is unlikely to interest experts and fine connoisseurs of this drink. However, if you want to gain a basic understanding of red wine, this title will quickly catch your attention.

The title can position your content directly indicating the method used to solve the problem. "Preventing cancer with natural remedies" is an example of this approach.

5. Do you try to draw curiosity from potential readers with your headline?

As we are told all sorts of books on literary analysis and the nature of literary creativity, interest in the text (it is clear that the word "interest" is very conditional here - it is a complex of feelings that are caused to the reader by the text) is born when the text exceeds our inner expectancy from it. And this happens due to certain techniques that "break" the general paradigm of the text, the usual picture of the world.

There are three such techniques:

  • Metaphors. They make the names more understandable and memorable. They create images that remain in the memory of the reader. Metaphor is the transfer of meaning, the use of the word in a figurative sense. Examples of metaphorical headlines: "How I ate a dog" by Yevgeny Grishkovets (I did not eat!), "I am burning Paris" by Bruno Yasensky (I did not burn!), Etc. To invent a metaphorical title is very simple. But it is important not only to invent it, it is much more important to beat it in the text. The heading is a bait, a hook. If you deceive the reader’s expectations by not playing back the title in the text, you will lose confidence in your next headlines.
  • Alliteration is another means to make the name memorable. It involves the repetition of homogeneous or identical consonants in the words of the title. Alliteration is a technique peculiar to more poetic speech. But compiling headlines, believe me, is closer to versification than it might seem at first glance. Examples include books. ”Master and Margarita "Bulgakov,"Hoh nFitzgerald's henna, etc.
  • Contradictions or unexpected expressions also arouse the curiosity of readers. They remain winning against the background of trivial headlines. Pay attention to the title of the fairy tale "How Ivan the Fool has outwitted the devil." The contradiction between the "fool" and "outwitted" forces the reader to wonder how Ivan outwitted the devil. The title of Tim Ferris's book, The Four-Hour Work Week, is an example of using an unexpected phrase. Many buyers do not believe that you can work only four hours a week, so they are interested in the book. Another example: “Goal: a process of continuous improvement” (the goal is not the finish point, but a process stretched over time) by Elia Goldratt and Jeff Cox. Well, the most eloquent example of controversy is Gilbert Chesterton's Man, who was Thursday.

6. Does your headline enter into dialogue with the audience?

Pack a promise made in simple and understandable words in the title of your book or article. The best headlines retain the almost naive evidence typical of everyday conversations of ordinary people. Check out the following examples:

  • "How to complete the work begun" by David Allen.
  • "Easy way to quit smoking" by Allen Carr.
  • “I do not know how to lose weight” by Pierre Ducane (the dialogue goes on easily: - do you know how? - no, I, unfortunately, do not know how ...).
  • “Until your teenager drove you crazy” Nigel Latta, etc.

Choose the right verbs when creating headlines. Also use verbal nouns. They form the attitude you need to the product from the reader.

  • Motivational verbs are one of the most successful forms for heading. They direct readers to a specific action. "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill is one example of the use of motivating verbs in the title.
  • The verbal nouns used in the title describe ongoing actions. The book "Going on the heels" A.N. Tolstoy demonstrates the possibility of using verbal nouns in the title.

7. How brief is your headline?

Let's say the obvious truth: short headlines attract more audience attention. Remember, the fewer words you use in the title, the more each of them is remembered by the potential reader.

Writer Malcolm Gladwell is considered the acknowledged master of short headings. Pay attention, for example, to the title of his book "The Geniuses and Outsiders" (eng. The Outliers) - succinctly and briefly.

8. Do you use subtitles?

The subtitle is to enhance your headline. Combine short headings with longer subtitles, revealing some details. Here is an example of a bestseller, whose name consists of two words, and the subtitle of 14: "Skinny bitch: Effective guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating all sorts of rubbish and look attractive." The English version of the subtitle consists of 17 words and contains profanity.

Author Larry Fine also successfully used the title and subtitle. His work is called "The Book of the Piano: the purchase and use of the instrument."

Garr Reynolds uses a multi-word title to draw attention to his book. A subtitle gives readers more information. Reynolds’s work is called "Zen Style Presentation: Design, Design, Conduct and Examples".

Well, another example that we could not ignore. The book by Michael Stelzner, which is translated into Russian as "Content Marketing: New Methods of Attracting Customers in the Internet Age", and the original title is even shorter, and the subtitle is even longer - Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business.

9. SEO: Does your name include popular searches?

Naturally, we could not ignore this issue. Web content should be thinking about driving traffic. The most basic traffic generators are search engines. But here you need to find a middle ground and not go on about the "bare SEO". The main thing - the relevance of the content, and then the "fit" for search engines. We illustrate with an example of this article. We wrote the article itself, in the head was already the title - simple and capacious. The only thing we did was to check which query was more frequent - “How to write a title” or “How to create a title”. And although I personally like the verb “create” more in this context (it is closer to the nature of the action on inventing headings, rather than the verb “writing”), nevertheless, the final version of the headline was coordinated.

In general, all of us working with content and hand in hand with optimization and website promotion specialists should keep in mind the frequency and competitiveness of those requests that somehow coincide with our headlines. It is clear that not every request can be “pulled out” to the top of the issue only thanks to the content. But if the page does not have the text relevance of the intended request - then the top request will never enter.

But the authors of printed books should also remember about Yandex and Google. Your works will be faster on the "shelves" of online stores Ozon.ru, Books.ru, Amazon.com, if their titles and subtitles contain popular queries.

10. Combined approach: do you use more than one trick from those listed above, creating headings?

The authors use two or more of the techniques described above to come up with bright and popular headlines. For example, alliteration and metaphors can be successfully combined with subtitles detailing the information.

Thank you for reading this far. As a thank you, we want to tell you this. In fact, the nature of a good text — and the title as part of it — is very controversial. You can create a great headline that completely rejects all of the above recommendations. The geniuses of the pen will do it. And even talented copywriters with a "full" hand. But we are talking about the mechanics of creating texts, and not about the nature of talent. High-quality copywriting is the sum of technologies that the author uses when learning from her and others' mistakes. And in this article we talked about technologies, trying to analyze successful, in our opinion, headings and generalizing their properties, leading these generalizations to some conclusions.

Speaking about the manufacturability of heading creation, we can also recommend using the following technique.

Use the pricing table to determine the quality of article headings, books, blog posts and social networks, and other content marketing products. Consider the highest quality option, gaining the greatest number of points.

Heading Pricing Table

CriterionQuestionCommentPoints
PromiseIs your headline promising an audience benefit?
SpecificityDoes the title of your content contain specific details that emphasize its relevance and value?
TargetingDoes the title emphasize the target audience for which the content is intended?
PositioningDoes the title help highlight your content?
InteractionAre you trying to arouse curiosity among potential readers to make the headline memorable?
DialogueIs your headline talking to your audience?
BrevityAre you trying to keep your content short?
GainDo you use subtitles to emphasize the title of the content?
SEODoes your name include popular searches?
Combined approachDo you use more than one trick out of the above to create headlines?

For example, you can print this table and distribute it to employees who create content for your project. Ask them to rate each working version of the article title with this tool. This will reduce the influence of subjective factors on your headlines.

Take the spreadsheet with you to your favorite bookstore or go for your favorite blogs. Practice by evaluating the names of books and articles that you see.

We would be grateful if you could share your comments on the titles of articles or book titles that you seem to be successful in the comments. Let's discuss these options.

Watch the video: How To Create Killer Facebook Video Ads (December 2019).

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