5 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Headlines That Will Drive Readers to Your Blog

Photo by Sean MacEntee

Photo by Sean MacEntee

Over the next two months, we’re going to focus on how to capture your readers’ attention when they first come across your blog. Besides the content, your post’s headline and the lead will make a difference on whether the readers will continue to read.

Last month, I queried my LinkedIn connections and asked for their best tips on how to write a snappy headline and an irresistible lead in a blog post. The response was overwhelming. I received over 50 tips, but for brevity, I whittled down what I felt were the 5 best responses for each category. This month, we’ll focus on the five best ways to craft a headline that will make your readers want more.

1. Use numbers

There’s a reason why I used a number in my headline for this article—it works. Think about how many articles and blog posts have caught your attention over the past week just because it contained a number.

One reason why these headlines are popular is that readers love numbered lists. A number in your post’s title indicates your article or post contains a numbered list. People tend to skim, especially on the web, and a numbered list makes it easy for them to do so.

Example: 5 sure-fire ways to write a catchy headline

2. Ask a question

George F. Snell III, a digital communications executive from Boston, recommends leading off with a question.

“Ask a question and then answer it,” he says. “Make it concise, punchy and interesting. In addition, avoid jargon at all costs.”

While a good question can intensify your reader’s curiosity, be sure to ask questions that the reader will feel compelled enough to continue reading.

Example: Are your blog’s headlines driving your readers away?

3. Be witty

For James Day, wit can never be underestimated.

“Use puns which are applicable to either something topical or a well-known phrase,” says Day, a social media manager from England.

In fact, last month, he wrote an article on pitching to potential investors, and by using this title: “Pitcher-Perfect: How to Optimise Your Pitching Skills” received more feedback than a standard post.

Example: A prescription for what ails your blog

4. Write for your audience

Jonathan Eaton, a web usability specialist, also from England, advises authors of blog posts to think about who your audience is.

“Create a spokesperson for them and critically evaluate everything you say as if he or she is reading it,” he says.

For example, Eaton has created a spokesperson who he calls Nigel. He only ever writes blog posts that he knows Nigel would be interested in.

“I try to write about topics that I think Nigel needs to know more about,” he says. “What I really want is for Nigel to talk to all his friends about what I have said. So it is important that Nigel can understand and then explain the concepts in my articles.”

For Eaton, it’s difficult to come up with that clever or catchy headline until you know who your “Nigel” is. Think about what he or she needs to know and what you want to tell them, and then write your lead in the way that they would expect to read it.

Example: 5 incredibly simple tricks to improve your healthcare blog

5. Study pop culture and gossip magazines

“Grab a copy of Cosmo and the National Enquirer—seriously,” advises Andrew Martinsen, a sales strategist for WalleyeFishingSecrets.com in Duluth, Minn.

Martinsen says that the headlines from those publications should provide enough inspiration for several years’ worth of catchy blog post headlines, no matter the market.

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About Daniel Casciato

Daniel Casciato has his own business as a social media consultant, freelance copywriter, ghostwriter, and ghostblogger. The Pittsburgh native loves his Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Learn more about him at www.DanielCasciato.com.

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