Writing Killer Headlines

Your headlines have got a tough job to do. In just a few words, they’ve got to get your reader’s attention, interest them in your subject matter, and – crucially – get them to read on.

A good headline is essential when it comes to building a website

On average, only about a quarter of webpage readers make it past the headline. Or to put it another way, if one hundred people land on your site today, 75 of them won’t get past the first line. They won’t even read the first paragraph, never mind that all-important call-to-action at the bottom of the page.

In other words, a killer headline is critical when it comes to writing a compelling, engaging, persuasive piece of copy. And here are some ideas on how to do it:

  • See how other people are doing it. It’s not cheating – successful websites, magazines and newspapers have tried and tested formulas when it comes to writing headlines. They know what works and what doesn’t, and their headlines are carefully constructed to give maximum return.
  • Start your headline with the words “How to” and follow it with a benefit, like “How to save money on your heating bills” or “How to cook a three-course meal in twenty minutes”. People are always looking for ways to save money and spend less time on mundane tasks, and your “How to” immediately offers the promise of a solution.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t go overboard with jokes or puns. Your reader isn’t engaged yet, and they just want to know – in very simple terms – what this webpage is about.
  • Use phrases that put a time limit on an offer, such as “ending soon” and “this week only”. It’s an obvious technique, but it works: people don’t want to miss out on a discount and have to pay full price at a later date – even if they’re not sure they really need whatever it is you’re offering.
  • Ask a question: “Are you paying too much for your car insurance?” “Do you want a beautiful garden for the summer?” It forces the reader to subconsciously answer “yes”, engaging them with your webpage and making them read on.

Next time: More tips on writing killer headlines.