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Harry Gardiner

10 Tips For Creating Catchy Headlines

7th Apr 2015 Content Marketing 7 minutes to read


10 Tips For Creating Catchy Headlines

Writing blog posts is easy. Yeah I said it. Anyone can grab a keyboard and begin typing, and a couple of hundred words later they’d probably have an almost–legible piece of content. However, if it doesn’t have a catchy title, chances are no one’s even going to glance at it, let alone read through it.

Coming up with the perfect blog post title is an art form, developed and honed by Content Marketing experts through years of intensive training.

Except it’s not.

There’s no mysticism or magic behind ultra-catchy content headlines; it’s just a matter of proper planning, preparation and research. So, to help you get started, here are my top 10 tips for blog title development.

On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. David Ogilvy

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1. Idea Dump

Idea Dump

One of my personal favourite creative thinking techniques, the idea dump can take many forms, from mind maps to group discussions, but the general goal remains the same: generate as many ideas as is possible.

This should really be done before you’ve even begun writing your content, but it’s still an invaluable technique for titles as well.

NotepadSimply look at the themes and information represented within your article, and note down the most relevant headings for the post. No idea is too stupid, or far-fetched. Eventually you should have so many ideas that a general theme, or obvious choice, should present itself.

Everyone has their own preferred method of idea dumping, whether it’s sketching on post-it notes, scribbling on a board or creating documents filled with text. I jot my title ideas down in a notepad, reading them aloud to see which best captures my interest.

2. Optimise

SEO and Content go together like Sonic and Tails, in the sense that on their own they’re both pretty cool, but combined they can soar!

Ok that’s a really weak analogy, but you should still consider optimising your titles by ensuring they’re targeted and shareable:

  • Delve into your Google Analytics to find your best performing pages and determine where your audience’s interests lie.
  • Monitor onsite search queries to get a better idea of what people are looking for on your site, and use that to help formulate a relevant title.
  • Use tools like Google AdWords Keywords Planner, UberSuggest and WordStream to get a better idea of search volume and popularity.
  • Check social media feeds and use tools like Buzzsumo to find similar content being shared by influencers, and ensure that you’re not creating duplicate titles.

However, don’t just stuff your title full of keywords, utilise adjectives and modifiers to make your headlines more naturally shareable.

Take a look at the below video for more information:

3. Click Bait

Click Bait

Eurgh!

Okay let’s see a show of hands, who honestly likes writing these kind of titles, or even reading the content behind them? No one? Yeah that’s what I thought.

Despite this, click bait titles are incredibly effective at their job – making posts go viral.

You’ve probably seen these kinds of posts all over your Social Media feeds by now, and that’s because sites that utilise these kinds of titles have seen enormous growth in the last few years.

Don’t believe me? just look at this insightful GrowthHackers post that charts the unbelievable rise of ‘viral news’ site Upworthy.

The formula for this is easy, simply present half the information, then question your readers’ intelligence, imagination or emotional stability regarding what comes next:

  • X did Y, and you won’t believe what happened next!
  • This X has been closed for 80 years, see what happens when this lady opens it
  • I cried when I saw what had happened to X, and you will too.
  • Love X? Let’s see if you still love them after you see Y!

So, should you use click bait headlines in your content? Well that really depends on you and your brand. If this kind of language is in line with your brand values, then it certainly wouldn’t hurt to treat yourself to some of that liquid gold and try out click bait headlines.

If not though, you could end up pushing your audience away, and devaluing your brand; so use with caution.

4. Solve A Problem

Let’s lay out some common sense real quick: If you can offer your readers a helpful tip, or an answer to the question they’re looking for, then it’s likely they are going to want to read your post.

Think about that when it comes to developing the headline.

These types of titles are usually found on ‘How To’ or ‘X ways to’ posts, and instantly communicate the benefits of the article in one sentence.

This once again goes back to researching your audience. Analyse on-site search queries and explore the long tail variations of popular keywords related to your brand. Use that data to formulate an impactful title.

5. Offer New Insights

Do your posts contain unique data? Then this is your chance to get ultra-specific.

Utilise attention-grabbing facts and figures to draw your users in. These kinds of titles are great for press releases, as they present digestible data directly to the audience.

Examples include:

  • Survey findings reveal…
  • X% of people believe…
  • New study shows…

6. Have A Opinion

Sometimes, it’s ok to disagree.

Conflicting opinions breed new ideas, and if you create an opinion piece, then you get the chance to pose a new take on a topic for your readers.

The articles themselves can take all shapes and sizes, but these titles tend to begin with “why, what, or how”, and often succinctly portray your attitude towards the topic.

7. Speculate

Speculative titles can be tricky to get right. On one hand, you can draw readers in by accessing the rumour mill and reporting on possible scoops; on the other hand, you could end up lying to your followers, and looking worse for it.

Positive speculation can help you break news early, and gain a reputation as a reliable source, especially if you have the facts to back it up within the article itself.

Just don’t abuse the power. Ian Lurie has written a great post on Portent about the dark side of speculative titles, and how Internet marketers use negative connotations to help drive views. This works well for gossip articles, or a piece that covers popular news, and upcoming releases, but less so for factual articles.

8. Exaggerate

Hyperbole is another often used technique in click bait headlines, but it can also be used to purvey a sense of urgency that is sometimes much needed.

For example, which headline would you rather click on:

“Why you should update your web copy”

Or

“How updating your web copy can make you thousands of pounds”

I know which I prefer.

Why not take some of those titles you created during the idea dump, and see if you can make them more punchy by exaggerating slightly.

Don’t lie to your readers, just take the most extreme outcome of your article and express this in the title.

9. Make Them Laugh

So much pun!

Puns! You either love them or you hate them.

I personally love a good pun. If your subject matter isn’t too serious, and you have the chance to crack wise in your title, why not go for it?

Humour is a tricky tactic to get right though, and the best kind of funny headlines tend to focus on wordplay or simple puns, rather than poking fun at a particular topic or person.

10. Generate

If all else fails, and you still can’t decide on a great title, you can always use tools like Portent’s amazing content idea generator to make the headline for you.

Portent Content Ideas

These won’t be the most targeted titles, and sometimes they won’t even make sense. However, sometimes the titles are good enough to stir your imagination into creating a headline that actually work’s better than expected.

Further resources:

Still hungry for more headline writing tips?

Check out these great Koozai Posts:

The Anatomy Of A Perfect Blog Post That Gets Results
30 Top Tips For Amazingly Effective Content Marketing Titles

Take a look at these helpful resources:

Headline Writing 101
102 Headline-Writing Formulas

You can also download the whitepaper below for more Content Marketing advice.

For more information get in touch, leave a comment below or Tweet me @Hr_Gardiner.

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Harry Gardiner
About the author

Harry Gardiner

At a statuesque 98ft tall (or 6ft 7”, whatever) Harry’s head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to social media. He’s also got mad DJ skills and is a lover of Pugs, bacon and if you tell him you haven’t seen a certain movie, he will make you watch it. You’ve been warned.

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