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WTH: What The Headline

By: Machielle Thomas | 19 Jan 2017

From blogs to magazine covers, headlines rule everything around us. A headline is one thought that convinces readers your content is worthy of their time. Many brands find themselves fighting through the clutter of magazine stands, blog titles, and the endless array of content that lives on the internet.

To captivate your audience, err on the side of clarity. Don’t let a boring or misunderstood headline deter your reader from your carefully crafted content. Your goal should be to put forth thought-driven content that purposefully connects with your audience.

The headline should be relevant to the content, eye-catching, and thought provoking. Incorporating SEO friendly words increases the odds that your content matches what your audience is searching for.

Make it relevant

Set a consistent tone between your brand and your headline. Each piece of content should be unique, but also should not vary from your topic. Start with a rough draft, or a working title, by writing a subject line that makes sense. Be sure to review and reflect until your piece is complete, ensuring your title sets a clear expectation to the reader on what they will learn or take from your content. Be certain the time spent reading your article will be worthwhile by drawing in the correct audience through a clear headline based on their interests.

Make it eye-catching

Highlight social and consumption trends without using click-bait headlines. Click-bait headlines are aimed at generating online revenue, or traffic, by promoting low quality or inaccurate content. These sensational headlines can lead to your brand being untrusted and bothersome to readers.

Play with alliteration, make the content value clear, and use strong words when necessary. Alliteration such as, ‘Sleepy Students Swear By This’ can bring attention to your headline, making it stand out. Strong words, used in moderation, can bring immediate attention to your content. Example: ‘5 Things Americans Hate’ or ‘Brilliant People Do This Daily’.

Make it thought provoking

There are three main types of thought provoking headlines. Most editorial headlines fall into one of these three categories:

Pose a question: Thought provoking headlines commonly pose a question or an implied question that readers assume will be answered in the content. This is a sure way to gain the attention of your target audience. Example: ‘Drowning in Debt? We Can Help’.

Name dropping
: These headlines can be a bit vague because the topic is popular or well-known. People will still be interested in reading, even if they aren’t quite sure what the content is about. Example: ‘Facebook: Create Your Presence.’ This headline does not tell the reader exactly what will be covered in the article; however, the mention of a known entity draws the attention of the reader.

How to’s: Your headline is likely to be successful if it is telling your audience how to do something they are interested in. The formula is simple: How To + Action + Benefit/Solution. Example: If you are targeting graduate students then your headline about student loans could be, ‘11 Ways to Pay Off Student Loans This Year’.

Choosing the right image

While the headline is your number one priority, your header image is a strong second. Why write a killer headline only for a boring image to distract or divert your readers from your message? There are three important questions to ask yourself before choosing your header image.

Is it legal?

Shockingly, you do not have rights to use every image on the internet. This is the most important thing to consider when choosing an image for your content. Violating copyright laws can cause your company a hefty fine. There are free stock image services available, and subscription services that offer more variety. Wondering how to legally site images?  Read this.

Is it compelling and relevant?

You’ll want to make sure the image is relevant to your content as this featured image is the first thing a reader will see. Find an image that will resonate with your audience and draw in their attention.

Is it sized appropriately?

Pixelated images are hard on the eyes. Resolutions that are too high lead to slow load times for your page. According to Kissmetrics47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. Don’t lose readers because of long load times.

Having issues formulating your message? Let us know how we can help!