Who really needs to be intrigued by your headline?

If you answer this question incorrectly, you’re committing a mistake that undermines your content and turns away reporters and consumers.

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I’ve seen blog posts that urge bloggers and other writers to use a formula to create headlines. Something like: “__ tips to do ______ and get _____ .”

I like the way that aims to simplify an important task that can be stressful and difficult. But that advice misses the main point of strong headlines: Those toppers for articles, news releases, or blog posts that are so enticing, readers feel compelled to pause, open, and explore.

Too often it seems, headline writers create their titles for themselves instead of for their audience.

Yes, the authors (or their clients) are the ones excited about the development they are announcing. Or the insight they are sharing.

But if the headline that introduces the post or news release heralds a self-interested angle, it ignores the point of view of the readers. And if it does that, far fewer readers will click on—and open—the link.

That undermines the communication’s effectiveness and its reach.

Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen

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