How to write effective headlines
Effective headlines are considered the icing on the cake of successful texts. They motivate readers to delve into your text and immediately give them an idea of what content to expect. In web-copy editing, a meaningful headline including a keyword is essential for search engine optimisation. And one thing is for sure: You too can write captivating headlines! We'll give you 5 tips on how to inspire and motivate people to devour your texts.
Let's start with an absolute no-no: copying. There are countless sites on the web that offer headline templates. They just replace the number or the product – and that's it. While it may sound tempting, we strongly recommend against doing that.
We hereby give you official permission to juggle your ideas when looking for a suitable headline. Simply jot them down without immediately evaluating or discarding them. This is how creative ideas are born.
Our tip: Experiment with new creative techniques and methods. Don't knock something until you've tried it!
Be specific and keep it short
Generic headlines are boring and easy to copy. In other words: They're expendable and worthless. If you want to captivate your readers, make your statements precise and to the point. Headlines are not the right place for rambling. For instance, if you write a headline about car repairs, mention the make and/or the model, the exact type of repair, or both.
- Vague headline: Repairs for your car
- Specific headline: Windscreen repairs for your Fiat 500
Numbers also add more depth and heft to your statements. If the numbers are written as numbers, the headline becomes clearer. Screw the writing rule of spelling out numbers from one to ten in this case!
- Vague headline: Hiking in Switzerland
- Specific headline: 7 Hikes in the Swiss Alps
You are allowed to be funny! The important thing is that your readers get the joke right away. If you're not sure, don't use it rather than creating confusion and uncertainty.
Last but not least, we also allow you to be brave. Convincing arguments should be used and not kept a secret.
Don't forget: mobile first! On a smartphone or tablet, a headline quickly fills several lines and thus the entire screen.
But be deliberate: Just because you want to arouse emotions in your readers doesn't mean you have to get all sentimental. You don't have to obsessively try to be funny or create tension. The right way to evoke emotions with headlines is by highlighting the benefits for the readers. Where do you get those from? That's easy: Take the product or service you're writing about and think about what benefits it offers.
Our tip: If you are writing for a company, check whether they have already listed the benefits before you start researching.
The benefits are defined and ready to be processed? Nice. Now it's time to figure out how to package them. There are different variations that you can use again and again. You can combine two benefits, relate them to a product feature or formulate them as a question. If there is not enough space for a longer headline, subheadlines allow you to go into detail.
Feel free to use these examples as inspiration and for your own benefit (pun intended!):
Two benefits cleverly combined:
- Headline: Give joy, save money
- Subheadline: How to surprise your loved ones with DIY gift tips from Westwing
Benefit meets product feature:
- Drink a smoothie in the morning for a vitamin-packed start to the day.
Attract attention with questions:
- What do you need to successfully overwinter plants?
Try out different variations and combinations. What you'll get is a colourful potpourri that instantly puts you in a good mood.
The use of keywords in headlines is extremely important, especially for web copy. After all, you want to make a good impression on Google. Do you have several keywords that you can't possibly fit into one headline? Use the main keyword. Ask yourself or your client which topic should come up in the search results. You can include other keywords either in the subheadline or in the text.
In our case, the word „headlines“ is the main keyword. That is why it is also used in the headline of the article.
So go ahead and define your main keyword and then take one of our tips and craft your headline with it. Let's say your keyword is „ski touring“ and your text contains route suggestions for beginners, then a specific headline could look like this:
Top 10 ski tours for beginners in Austria
The readers know immediately what it is about. Experienced ski tourers will not feel addressed by this headline, but that is not the point of the text anyway.
Practice makes perfect
- Nobody likes boring headline clones.
- Readers want individual headlines that evoke emotions and bring the content of your text succinctly to the point.
- Google rewards you for using relevant keywords by helping you get your customers' attention.
Now it's your turn. Grab a pen and paper or your laptop – and then let's get started!