A headline is the first thing that the reader sees and it is what determines whether your audience wants to continue reading or move on to a more “interesting” story. Thus, a headline should be catchy, attractive and informative. There are three rules to writing such titles.
There is a lot of controversy among writers over the use of numbers in headlines. Opponents argue that everyone is fed up with articles like “7 ways to save money on flight tickets” and “10 tips to increase your conversion rates”. Others insist that lists are disrespectful to readers, implying that they are unable to comprehend more complex content and need everything to be broken down into separate points.
Proponents of this technique, on the other hand, argue that headlines with numbers get more readers. Research shows that users tend to click on headlines with numbers more frequently. Furthermore, the “listicle” style is a reliable way to structure content right from the beginning. A user knows what to expect: if they are promised “7 ways to lose weight by summer”, they know there will be exactly seven ideas in the article. It also allows the writer to get straight to the point and filter out irrelevant details.
If you have a key speaker with something important to say, you can use this in the headline, It’s crucial that the quote reflects what the article is really about, rather than just baiting readers.
Using quotes as clickbait is a widespread practice in digital media today, which is reliant on advertising revenue from free content that attracts traffic to the website contrary to, say, paid subscription news. It is important to exercise caution when using this method for business-related content.
Titles inferring a step-by-step guide are the most common method when crafting business headlines today, like “How to build a spaceship with LEGO”. The advantages are obvious: readers immediately get what the article is going to be about. At the same time, handy articles explaining how to do something or simplifying complex or current topics are always very popular with users.
Don’t stop at the headline
A well-chosen headline fixes several problems at once: it attracts attention, establishes a clear-cut structure and shapes user perception of the content. This is why numbers, quotes, and how-to headlines are the most approachable techniques for businesses trying to attract readers.
Don’t feel you need to limit yourself to these three approaches. Countless readers are still ready to spend time on an article with a headline that is, at first sight, far from “viral”.
It is essential that the article is of excellent quality, even if the headline is crafted for more discerning readers. Content shouldn’t focus on selling something mediocre with a good headline and attractive illustrations.
Rather, look at these elements like the “cherry on the cake” of an insightful and well-crafted article, which remains the main component for success. Remember that readers are smart, you can bring them to water with a good headline but you will only get them to drink with captivating content.