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Five Keys to Writing Headlines That Attract Readers

Getting the click is the hardest part.

Attracting readers and driving traffic is the name of the game for a lot of companies with digital presence. Like many aspects of marketing, it’s a somewhat unscientific concoction of art and precision. As a writer, your goal is to create content that is not only to be consumed by an audience, but shared by said audience with their friends and contacts. Your content may be some of the most insightful, thought-provoking pieces ever written, but if no one sees it, it has a very low probability of resonating with a wide audience.

Not every content writer is a skilled wordsmith with carefully woven tales destined to captivate and awe. But writing a successful headline can be the difference between very well-distributed content and something that falls flat. Here are some keys to writing headlines that will attract your readers to your (hopefully) earth-shatteringly great content.

1. Allude to a numbered list

It’s proven that numbered lists do very well in blog posts. Digital marketers, growth strategists, and SEO experts alike have all known this for some time now. Lists give readers a familiar way to gauge roughly how long it might take for them to get through a piece of content. Numbered lists allow readers to actively justify the consumption of information in exchange for the time they will spend consuming said information.

2. Know Your Audience

Who are you writing for? Do you understand the demographic? Their likes and dislikes? Their desire for formality or the lack thereof? Knowing your audience will help you craft and tailor your headlines for the best chance at having your content consumed and shared. For example, if I wanted a post to go viral among members of the investment banking C-Suite, I wouldn’t title my post, “The Top 5 Ways to Stack Paper for that Vacation.”

3. Leave the Reader Thirsty

Successful headlines are those that draw the reader in just enough to be curious and gain that first click, but still leave them wanting more. For instance, if you found this post, it’s likely because you wanted some tips on writing good headlines. (And you like lists!) You got to the post, but the headline didn’t tell you everything that you needed, so you read further looking for more.

4. SEO

What is the key word you think that your audience members will most likely be using to search for this sort of content? Find that word. It should be the basis of your headline and you should craft something beautiful and succinct around it.

5. Look for Inspiration

The digital world is literally littered with pieces of content, both wonderful and terrible. Take notes from some of the most viral pieces of content and take the time to understand why those individual pieces did so well with the author’s designated audience.

A successful headline should ultimately speak to the reader and trigger a response that drives them to click through to your content. That being said, a successful headline means absolutely nothing without strong, insightful content that engages the reader and inspires them to pass your message on. The headline is just a nibble of the masterful smorgasbord of information that you have to share with the world.