Go Back to the Basics: How to Write Great Headlines

Go Back to the Basics: How to Write Great Headlines

It was a well-written headline. But well-written headlines engage the reader in seconds and make them want to read the story in full. Don’t falsify the headline just to get readers interested. When they click on the article and discover that the headline doesn’t accurately reflect the content of the article, they will become frustrated and view your site in a negative manner. Correctly implying the contents of the article is just as important. A do-it-yourself article? Any article needs to address the most important details: The “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how” of the story or article. Start Writing Better Headlines As readers, we don’t know the time or effort the writer put into crafting the perfect headline for their article. Writing great headlines can be something of an art; some people just naturally excel, somehow finding the right combination of words to summarize the story. So even if you find you can’t write great headlines right away, by continuing to keep the aforementioned points in mind, it will start to become second nature.

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Imagine that you conduct a search on Google—perhaps for information on traveling to Iceland, a beginner’s tutorial for learning how to knit, or a healthier version of chicken alfredo. The query returns hundreds of thousands of results. Even though the search engine lists the most relevant results first, you will still need to look through them to determine which will provide the results you need. Your eyes scroll down the list, and you see one that catches your eye.

But why did it catch your eye?

It was a well-written headline.

All About the Headline

A headline is one of the most basic (and fundamental) elements of a news story, article, or advertisement. In a fast-moving world, consumers need to gauge whether or not they are interested in your content. If the headline doesn’t immediately pique their interest, they’re moving on. But well-written headlines engage the reader in seconds and make them want to read the story in full.

When it comes to traditional newspapers, the bigger the headline (in terms of font size), the more important the story is compared to others. You will still see this practice employed on some digital sites as well.

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In the example above, the article “Trump: Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen is out” is the largest headline of the main three shown on the homepage. It is a breaking news story, which gives it precedence over the other stories.

Sometimes, an article will have a second headline, which is also known as a subhead. This headline is smaller in size than the main headline, and it is meant to provide additional information and support the main headline.

Let’s look a bit closer at what great headlines do for their articles.

In the example above, the article “Trump: Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen is out” is the largest headline of the main three shown on the homepage. It is a breaking news story, which gives it precedence over the other stories.

Sometimes, an article will have a second headline, which is also known as a subhead. This headline is smaller in size than the main headline, and it is meant to provide additional information and support the main headline.

Let’s look a bit closer at what great headlines do for their articles.

What Great Headlines Accomplish

We know that a well-written headline is what is needed to capture your reader’s attention. But you want to do it in a way that is correct and truthful. What we mean is:

  • It needs to be accurate. Don’t falsify the headline just to get readers interested. When they click on the article and discover that the headline doesn’t accurately reflect the content of the article, they will become frustrated and view your site in a negative manner. Continuing such a practice will drive your audience away from the site.You’ve likely heard of or have read a click-bait article. Click bait’s headlines are usually intentionally misleading or provide little insight as to the content of the article. Correctly implying the contents of the article is just as important.
  • It is quickly understood. Do not make the headline overly clever or so confusing that your readers cannot understand it upon reading it for the first time. You never want your readers to feel stupid or that your article is “too intelligent” for them (unless your brand is meant to come off as a condescending know-it-all).
  • It is written correctly. Few things make a reader distrustful right off the bat than a poorly written headline. Would you trust…

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