how to write a good headline

A guide on how to write a good headline – with tools, examples and reasoning

If you enter “how to write a good headline” into a search engine, dozens of articles will immediately attack. They will advise you to write numbers, to let in fog, to keep silent and ask rhetorical questions. Let’s try to deal with the headings more systematically.

how to write a good headline

Think about what attracts people, understand the audience and look at six specific techniques that will help attract the right audience to your articles.

Why you need a good headline

You have probably noticed that the Internet is overloaded with content: from every source some article “read me, take me” screams at the reader. In the conditions of such fierce media competition, the headline is the most powerful way to grab attention, to attract it.

Even if the material is frankly bad, but with a powerful headline, it is likely to be read. How useful such reading is for content marketing purposes is another question.
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Why do people click on headlines

Okay, we figured out the importance of headings. But why do people even click on them? What moves them when they think “wow, this is definitely a must read”?

Three options:

It helps to feel important and smart. For example, above in Zen we saw an article about the fact that the Chinese are deliberately limiting the production of microchips and are trying to enslave the whole world. Such knowledge helps to feel “above” the rest: “these weak-willed sheep walk around as if nothing is happening, but I’m aware of it …”.

It helps improve your life. Pragmatics also work: housewives who watched a video guide in Zen on how to scrape off soot from a frying pan now definitely live better.

It helps to have fun. For example, the article “Strange results of the year of a strange family …” is purely fun. Kind of like a Zen blog. You can look at the lives of others, if you do not have enough of your own, worry. In general, “House-2”. This category also includes videos with cats, comics, jokes, “what happens if you put a hot ball on…”.

If the headline promises something from the above list, it is more likely to work. If nothing is promised, people won't come.

The audience matters too

We found three “pain points” that readers close with the help of materials on the Internet. But everyone has their own. For some, pragmatism is reading about cleaning a frying pan, and for someone, about how to launch rockets into space. The first is more, the second is less.

Before you start writing your headline, don’t forget to think about who it is intended for, otherwise you might be targeting the wrong audience.

An important thought: the more people you want to reach with an article, the simpler the topic and title will have to be written

For a small group of people, the “common denominator” will be some local topic. For example, entrepreneurs in the city of Tambov are happy to read about entrepreneurship – and they need an appropriate heading. And if we want to be read in general by all people from Tambov, this is a different task: we need to write about cats, a Chinese conspiracy and a cream that…

It turns out that small groups of people and individuals can be smart, get involved in something. For physicists, for example, pragmatics would be something about experiments. But, if we want to cordon off a large audience, the topic needs to be grounded and simplified – for example, writing about dandruff shampoos. Such pragmatics comes to almost everyone.

Think about the audience. The larger it is, the more clickbait and down to earth you need a headline.

Specific Tools to Help Strengthen Your Headline

When you know why you need a headline, understand the context in which the reader will see it, and know who you need in readers, all that remains is to write. There are few secrets here – here is a list of tools:

Specify the format. People like it better when you say what’s inside beforehand, especially if it’s something cool.

“Infographic: how the number of patients with COVID 19 is changing” is interesting because it is an infographic. A simple visual format, almost always interesting to look at.
“Video guide: how to connect a router” - “wow, they’ll show me everything right in the video, I don’t even need to read anything.”

Prove your expertise. There are a lot of articles on the Internet from non-professionals who do not want to believe. Prove your expertise right in the title: why can you and what’s inside be trusted?

"Five Examples of How Millionaires Manage Money " - cool, I want to read and spend money wisely. And then maybe I'll become a millionaire myself.
“The school psychologist of Lyceum No. 5 tells how he brings up his children” - mothers will want to read this to feel cooler: “now I will be like a pro, and my children will grow up golden.” By the way, the title will work only if everyone knows Lyceum No. 5.

Promise favor/laughter/sense of superiority. Sometimes you can “on the forehead” put pressure on one of the pain points that we have identified. In plain text, say – after this material, such and such will happen.

“98% of people don’t know this about Pugacheva’s personal life” - those who are interested in Pugacheva will definitely want to read and feel chosen. Nobody knows, but I already know.
“The funniest jokes with cats were lying around with the whole family” - of course, it will be funny. Look, the whole family collapsed with laughter, I’ll also go and see.
“The most delicious carrot cake is notes from an experienced housewife,” they promised a cake, now I want to go inside, read, cook for the whole family and lick my fingers. And the experienced hostess advises!

Promise simplicity. The reader will be pleased to know in advance that you do not have a hellish canvas inside, but a short structured text that will be easy and pleasant to study.

“Five tips on how to train a cat to a tray” - there are only five tips, you can quickly read and run further.
“How inflation works - we explain it on cats” - it seems that the topic is complicated, but they will explain it on cats. So, I can figure it out, I'll go read it.

Shock and intrigue. Innate curiosity pushes people to explore new topics. And if there is something unusual there, you definitely want to see it. Sometimes it is useful to spur “urgency”, to call for a herd reflex. Everyone already knows about it – you alone do not know.

“The whole world gasped when Galkin said…” Well, since the whole world gasped, then I probably gasp too. Plus, you don't want to be left behind. We need to see what's there.
“What Putin did at SPIEF defies any explanation” - how is Putin? what did you do? Read on, this doesn't happen every day.

Personalize. When you address the reader directly, it seems to him that they are talking as if to him, the value of the material instantly increases. Now he knows for sure: there will be nothing superfluous in the material, only about him and his problems.

“Mommies, don’t do this with your children - this makes their psyche collapse” - such treatment will make any mother nervous. It was definitely addressed to her, and even something terrible inside. We must see, otherwise we will inadvertently break the psyche of the child.
"5 rules of a good programmer to work faster and more efficiently" - of course, this is for programmers. If the reader considers himself one of them, he will want to read. They are talking to him!

Example – title for an article about inflation

We are writing material for the blog of a large bank. We are read by people who want to invest, but do not understand it. The words “inflation,” “multiplier,” and “mutual fund” shock them.

The task is to write about inflation so that everyone understands everything. In the future, we want this reader to become interested in the materials, subscribe, read many, many articles, and then join us for brokerage services.

We don’t need all the people in the world. We know that housewives, villagers and retirees will not invest no matter how you convince them. Therefore, we initially sharpen the headline on white-collar workers from the capitals – they have money, and they are ready to understand finances.

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The starting version of the title is “What is inflation” . Let’s make it stronger.

In the final version, we added expertise with the help of the name of Sergey Guriev, indicated a pleasant format – a comic book, promised the reader simplicity.

When we wrote that there were cats in the comic book, and caught up with intrigues when we said that the reader’s money was getting cheaper. For those uninitiated in the basics of financial literacy, this can be a shock.

And now the most important thing about the title - if you promised a comic about inflation from Sergey Guriev with cats, inside there should be a comic about inflation from Sergey Guriev with cats.

That is, you need to think first of all about filling. And the title is secondary: when it remains only to comb the text.


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