Say you’re writing about unicorns and dragons. How do you compel a reader to stay on the page or click on the image to read the blog, if they’re not the sort of person who automatically clicks through to fantasy fiction sites? Yes, a relevant, high quality image could pique their interest, but is it enough? To hook any reader, you need to create an irresistible headline.
The word “irresistible: has several definitions. Here are two, both of which apply to your headline-crafting task:
Irresistible = Compelling
A headline needs to shock your reader (in a good way) or otherwise take your reader by surprise.
There’s so much saturation in online content that unless your headline shocks or draws the reader’s attention with something nonsensical or whimsical or intriguing, you will have a hard time trying to hook them.
You need to be careful, though. The headline needs to grab the reader’s attention, but it needs to also make sense both in and out of context. Many people won’t read the headline on your blog – they’re more likely to come across it on Facebook, Pinterest, or an RSS Feed. So the headline needs to be compelling, and it needs to make sense as a stand-alone sentence.
Irresistible = Accurate
Ever read a blog that didn’t even answer the question posed in the headline? A disappointed reader is one who won’t want to click on your future headlines if each and every one doesn’t live up to its promise.
How many times have you found nothing but disappointment and betrayal of your trust in a blog post that promised to tell you how to be rich without having to leave your house again, only to realize the actual blog content was completely irrelevant and was trying to sell you a new product?
You must respect your readers. Don’t promise things you cannot offer them. Be as accurate as possible. Yes, a factual discrepancy could happen, and mistakes are only human. But don’t consciously write misleading headlines for the sake of hooking your readers. They will eventually become disappointed with you and never read your blog again.
Opt for accuracy and professionalism and you will be rewarded.
– Here are a few extra takeaways to keep in mind when writing the perfect headline:
– Keep it short. Any headline longer than 6 words is generally too long for online readers.
– “You” headlines grab the readers and never let them go. Not really, but you get the point. A “You” or “Your” headline instantly hooks the reader because the reader is referenced in it. They’ll immediately think, “Hey, that’s me, and yes, I do want to know how to cook pasta!”
– Tap into readers’ insecurities. Using words like “stop” or “wrong” or “bad” or “don’t” makes readers wonder if they should be doing something differently. “Are you going on a road trip without these basic supplies? It could be dangerous.” Bam! Hooked.
– Ask a question. “Why” and “How” headlines pique the readers’ curiosity because more often than not, people desperately want to master everything.
– A list headline works well with readers too. In fact, listicles are widely shareable because there’s something irresistible about having “10 ways to wear your peplum blouse this summer.”
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