Focus on whats in it for the reader
Balance personality and relevance
Many writers fall into two traps: being too straightforward or too catchy. When you’re too straightforward, it can come across as boring and may not grab the readers attention. When you get too creative, you can lose the main point of your content and lose your reader altogether. Instead, try to balance the two by giving the headline enough personality to entice the reader, while still explaining what the article is about.
Stay true to your voice
Your headlines and titles should always align with your brands voice or personality. If you work for a large company that is very professional and formal like trust my paper service is, it probably wouldn’t make sense to say, Check out our new site, dudes! On the other hand, if your company’s voice is quirky and casual, it would sound bizarre to say, Learn how to involve your key stakeholders in developing your strategic vision. Identify what your company’s verbal style is, and stick to it.
Talk about benefits, not features
Along the same lines, people respond a lot more positively to benefits than to features. No one cares that the iPod has 160GB of storage (although that is pretty impressive). They care that they can listen to 40,000 songs in a row and never have to delete one again. That’s powerful! When you rely on features, you’re not speaking your customers language, and they move on. Features can be duplicated. Your unique benefits and solutions cant.
Stay away from cliches
Please spare us the pain of another variation of Lions and tigers and bears oh my! in your headline. These kinds of cliches are hard to get away from. They’re easy to remember, you think they make you sound creative, and theyre often the first thing you think of. And that’s why they shouldn’t be used. If cliches were effective, everyone could be a writer. Push past it, and come up with a new way to describe your topic. Your readers will be pleasantly surprised and more likely to read what you have to say.
Breathe new life into tired words
Words like great, helpful, awesome, and interesting are ok, but they don’t impress anyone. Give your headline or title some extra oomph by going through each word (aside from prepositions) and brainstorming more vivid or engaging ways to say the same thing. The thesaurus can be your best friend!
Consider SEO, but don’t force it
There’s an ongoing debate in the marketing industry about writing for search engine optimization vs. writing for humans. Forty is a proponent of writing with SEO in mind, while focusing first and foremost on what makes sense to a person. Keywords are important for search engines, but if your headline is confusing or robotic, its not going to draw someone in to read your content anyway. When you speak the language of your audience, you’ll naturally get more relevant search traffic. Include a keyword or phrase in your headline if it makes sense, but be sure you’re writing for humans, not robots.
Use an active voice
Using a passive voice can be awkward, vague, or unnecessarily wordy. Tighten your writing, and cut to the chase by using an active voice. Also, eliminate any extraneous words to make the title more succinct.
Build an attention-grabbing arsenal
All readers want to be entertained, to reaffirm their beliefs, to know how they can help, to be confronted, or to be enlightened. They’re drawn in when they think something is meaningful and fascinating. There are lots of headline and title formulas that have been proven to work (how to’s, lists, intriguing questions, etc.).