Writing Killer Headlines: Part 2

Remember why headlines are so important? Because those few words are the only tool you have to persuade people to read the rest of your webpage. If the headline isn’t interesting and engaging, you’re going to lose your readers before you’ve even got into the swing of things. In part 2 of Writing Killer Headlines, we’ll take a look at some more ways to create an effective header.

  • Write the headline first. Sometimes, especially if you’re not entirely sure what the page is about yet, it’s easier to write the rest of the text first, then go back and create a headline that sums up everything you’ve written in the body copy. This doesn’t work for two reasons. Firstly, you have to know exactly what the page is about before you start writing, otherwise your copy will be vague, rambling and notpersuasive. Secondly, the headline is where your best work goes, so it needs to be written first. You don’t want to write something fantastic in paragraph 3 that you then can’t use in your headline.

    Your headline: the most important words on the page

  • Make sure you use keywords in your headlines. Yes, it’s a good SEO tactic, but from a human point of view, using relevant keywords is a good way of checking that your headline actually relates to the page topic.
  • Use a number in your headline, such as “Five Ways To…” or “Ten Reasons Why…” and follow it with a list. People love reading lists, firstly because the headline tells them exactly what they can expect from the rest of the page, and secondly because reading a list of five bullet points feels like less of a commitment than reading five paragraphs.
  • Think about your intended audience, and tailor the headline to what they want. It’s better to have a good headline that appeals to your intended demographic, than a fantastic headline that you think will appeal to the masses (and therefore doesn’t really appeal to anyone).
  • Switch your words around so that the benefits and key selling points come first. Here’s an example headline: “Spend £100 and get a free £10 giftcard!” Granted, it states the key selling point – the free giftcard – but the first word on the page is “Spend”, and that’s what will stick in people’s heads more than the free giftcard. I have to spend a hundred pounds just to get a measly ten quid giftcard? No thanks. However, change the words round – “Free £10 giftcard when you spend £100!” – and the feel of the whole thing changes. The first word people read is “Free”, which immediately makes them feel like they’re getting something for nothing. I can get a free giftcard if I spend £100? That means I get 10% back! Bargain! It’s a subtle change, but one that makes for a far more positive reaction.