12 Most Snappy Headline Writing Tips For Your Blog

12 Most Snappy Headline Writing Tips For Your Blog

Did you know that many blog headlines suck? No, seriously, they do, and here’s why… the headline is the single-most important aspect of a blog and writers often stop short by featuring a less-than-pizzazzy headline.

In this era of time constraints, a headline has to describe the gist of the story, draw readers in, and be creative. With that said, here are 12 tips to get you thinkin’ on better headlines to attract and keep readers coming back:

1. Summarize the story in the title

Give readers the low down of the story right on top. A headline provides the gist of the news, content, story angle, etc. Be descriptive in a concise way. Spend the most time writing the headline FIRST; trust me, this is the best way to get it right.

2. Be creative!

Can’t stress enough how critical it is to let the creative juices flow like hot lava. It’s your job to draw a reader in and make them click on that title to see what else is being featured. When the headline is the only chance you get… well, spend more time on it!

3. Say no to hashtags

If you think you’re killing two birds with one stone writing a headline for Twitter with a hashtag, think again. A headline with a hash tag is unappealing. Besides, Twitter is not the only channel for sharing; other channels don’t use hashtags to capture topics, so why do it?

4. Reconsider name dropping

You may be in love with that book author, client or peer in your tribe or feed, but guess what? Your readers have no clue who that person is. When you name drop with the @ sign in a headline it diminishes the headline and becomes very promotional.

5. Use more than one or two words!

Amazingly, bloggers think a headline with one or two words is acceptable; rather, it’s an immediate signal to run for the hills. While the content may be decent, there’s no way to tell because one-word headlines say and do nothing to entice a reader to open the door.

6. Be tastefully raucous

Some writers never use raucous words in a headline and that’s up to the discretion of the writer; however, if you’re going to use the “sex sells” mantra, do be tasteful about it. Do a test on occasion — add a racier word than you’re used to and see if traffic boosts.

7. K.I.S.S. — Keep it simple!

When a headline carries on for three lines, readers’ eyes completely gloss over. It’s so critical to keep a headline short, sweet, simple and to the point! Not satisfied with yours? Ask someone for help; people do like to help others.

8. Keep key words for SEO to a minimum

Never overdo key word littering in a headline. That’s one thing every reader picks up on and every reader then expects the content to be oriented to SEO juicing, too. All bloggers want to boost SERP, but it needs to be done in a minimalistic way.

9. Use action voice

Write a headline that is a “How To” or includes an action verb. Here’s an example, “How To Refinish a Spindle Chair In Half The Time.” Not only does that title tell me I’m going to learn how to do something, it also tells me I can do it more efficiently. (Anyone who has refinished spindle legs knows how challenging it is!)

10. Ignore first-person pronouns

Use of the word, “I” is verboten… that’s German for “forbidden.” Who’s making that rule? Moi, the author of this post. There are no hard or fast rules to blog headline writing, but this one should be set in stone.

11. No selling!

Cannot stress enough how horrific it is to read a headline in which the author is sharing coupons, deals on products or dentistry (yes, I saw a woman doing that on Google+ and kindly told her this is not how Google+ is used with a suggestion on how to do it and then deleted her from my stream). There’s no easier way to alienate readers by putting such things in a headline.

12. Know your audience!

Who is in your community? Do you have “mommy bloggers” who might like to know which brand of children’s clothing stands up to 10 washings? Are you an author trying to showcase your latest book? Do you write professionally for small businesses? No matter… when you write a post with your community in mind, the headline needs to orient to them and their takeaways.

Overwhelmed with these tips on how to perfect a blog headline? Please don’t be! Review the patterns in your own writing and note a few areas you might consider improving. Then, take a few of the aforementioned tips and change up your style a bit.

What do you think? Is anything missing?

Featured image courtesy of mrYen licensed via Creative Commons.


Jayme Soulati

http://www.Soulati.com

Jayme Soulati is president of Soulati Media, Inc. and a blogger at http://soulati.com writing at Soulati-‘TUDE! She’s a B-to-B social media marketer with core PR expertise. Find her all over the Interwebz and especially on Twitter @Soulati.

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20 comments
AlaskaChickBlog
AlaskaChickBlog

Starting my fourth year online, writing between 3-5 posts a week... I STILL hate coming up with titles to posts! LOL I keep all of these Headline posts as inspiration, you know.. reference them, re-read them, look in big online magazines and news sites for inspiration- I even try to do what one person advised (and I forget who recommended that) and try to always write my title first- it really is the hardest part! I deliberately broke that rule for today's post, I must admit- I don't think I have before; I used a hash tag! (oh the horror!) But the post was written FOR the hash tag itself. LOL, conundrum. 

Thanks for this, Jayme.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Rockin' hot my friend:) Bravo to you on this, and to your "new look" on your site. Cheers! Kaarina

AlaskaChickBlog
AlaskaChickBlog

Oh Sure. Don't think I don't know just how bad I suck at this! LOL, seriously! I need a "Blog-post-namer" on staff. I am simply not getting any better at it. 

It feels like an "art" to me... (seriously) and I do try- but I can read too, and I call a dud, 99% of the time. I can sit and write three or four posts that I am really proud of, in a day (!) (qualifier- only writing, no links, no stats, no pictures chosen) and spend DAYS trying to come up with a catchy-smart title! 

More hints would be good, Jayme... a little deeper and more please. This really is important, I know, and I do want to get better at it. 

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick moderator

Fantastic advice Jayme!

This is so true "Spend the most time writing the headline FIRST; trust me, this is the best way to get it right." If people don't click on the link wherever they see it, it doesn't matter how good the rest of the article is.

So happy to have you here on 12 Most! Welcome! 

susansilver
susansilver

Another great run down on an important skill needed for online work. Word choice matters a lot. Not just keywords, but even order of words sometimes. 

Think of it this way, there are "Athletic Supporters" (i.e jock straps) and "Supporters of Athletics" 

Even though they can mean the same thing, this is not always the case. Search engines think of these terms differently and you need to use the right one. 

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Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

@AlaskaChickBlog You're so funny. Shall we take this off line, Girlfriend? Heh.

I will try to oblige; maybe we need to take this topic up with our Bloggers Unite G+ community (OMgoodness, is that a shameless plug? Is that permitted here?)

As a PR person trained in writing press releases, you have no idea how many tears I shed trying to learn how to write a headline and a caption. 

I'm happy to help in any way I can, Amber-Lee! Thanks for coming by!

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healingmuse
healingmuse

@PegFitzpatrick I test my headlines in twitter. If simple idea is coming up in my head I tweet it, if it gets noticed, it may be worthy of a blog deliberation or expansion...

AlaskaChickBlog
AlaskaChickBlog

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Really? I don't mean the points you listed here, ie: keywords, rules, laws... but the actual art of an interesting headline? You actually had to "learn" how? If so, Ok, I'm in. Reach me when you have the time... you know where I am! LOL

DwayneAlicie
DwayneAlicie

@AlaskaChickBlog @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing I think the "art" side of it is absolutely real and critical! Sure, there are recipes we can document that describe the components of good, compelling titles (the tips above are fantastic!), but there is definitely an element of art in the "wow" ones. And like most art, it springs from free-flowing connections ... so while you can spend hours in front of the computer trying to write one, it's not until you step away into the shower and start Head and Shouldering, or walk down a street that you haven't walked down before that BAM! The perfect title is born without rhyme or reason. : )

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