This article originally ran in 2019 and is part of our annual countdown of the most-viewed stories from PR Daily.
An online writer’s primary job is to get the reader to click or scroll down the page.
The best way to clear this attention-grabbing hurdle is to cook up a headline so spicy, scintillating, intriguing or alluring that it compels your audience to continue. Of course, you might never concoct a classic such as “Headless body in topless bar” or “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious,” but there is a plethora of proven methods to grab your reader.
Feldman Creative shares an alphabet’s worth of headline-writing tips, from A-Z, in a helpful infographic. The guidance includes the following tactics:
- “Posing a question … remains one of the best ways to engage the reader,” the piece posits. For instance, if you’re writing about bran muffins, you might try “Would you like to banish constipation forever?” instead of “Why bran muffins are good” to create a sense of urgency. (Hopefully, you’ll avoid the bran muffin assignment, but you get the idea.)
- What’s in it for your audience? What does she or he have to gain if they carry on reading? In the headline, tout a substantial benefit that a reader can pluck from your piece.
- The infographic recommends: “A proven headline approach is to begin with a topical keyword phrase, followed by a colon—or dash—followed by a statement or question.” (Alternatively, to increase your pageviews, you might also try slipping in a reference to beloved baseball big boy Bartolo Colón.) (Image via)
- Do’s and don’ts. Right at the top, declare your intention to share what works and what will flop regarding a relevant topic for your audience. For example, “Do’s and don’ts of turning your ferret into a competitive racer” would probably compel clicks.
- “Decisions are based on emotions,” as the infographic states, so hit your readers directly in their pain points. Use visceral language that stirs emotions, and let your passion for your subject shine through in the headline.
There are many more good headline-writing tips in this infographic, so peruse the whole thing.
This article originally appeared on PR Daily in July of 2019.
4 Responses to “Infographic: How to write irresistible headlines, from A-Z”
Thanks, Julia. We follow AP style on this one: https://twitter.com/apstylebook/status/180046302648877056?lang=en
This is a good explanation, too: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/dos-and-donts
AP is not alone on this. The matter is covered in other style guides and in what are considered the authorative texts on English in general.
I love this infographic — you raise a really good point about thinking of what’s in it for the audience. After all, the audience is the one reading it so the headline needs to entice readers, but also demonstrate to them that the article will be time well spent for them.