How to write a great headline?

Now, I could’ve titled this blog ‘5 Super Awesome Fantastically Amazing Tips to Write Pulitzer Prize-Worthy SEO-Proof Headlines Your Audience Will Love’, but somehow that didn’t seem like the right way to go. Intriguing? Sure, but also rather lengthy and maybe, just maybe, a little over the top. In short, a beautiful example of what not to do. But then what should you do?

What makes a good headline and why are headlines important in the first place?

Below you will find five tips to help you write original and SEO-proof headlines. Let’s get to it!

1. Lead with the need

Just like when writing content, always let your audience’s needs guide you. Offering content, they can actually use is crucial in terms of building a successful relationship with your readers. It’s the only way they’ll keep coming back for more. 

2. Keep it concise

The ideal headline length is a mere 70 characters. Why? Because a short headline can easily fit in Twitter’s character limit while still leaving enough room to add a link and a few hashtags. In addition, short headlines are more likely to be shared on social media, which, of course, is something we want.

3. Use relevant SEO keywords

SEO is here to stay. If you want your customers to find you, you’re going to have to use SEO keywords in your headlines. Please only use relevant keywords, though, don’t just cram your headlines full of keywords just to get a higher ranking. Believe me, Google knows that trick by now.

You know what isn’t astonishing?

WordPress plug-ins.

4. Surprise your readers with unexpected twists

Personally, boring and predictable headlines are a complete dealbreaker for me. You know the ones, the standard dime a dozen headlines that seem to have been spit out by some kind of headline generator. ‘The [random number] Most [any adjective you want] blah, blah, blah SEO Marketing yada yada yada’ 

Clear? Yes. Gripping? Hell no. 

I recently stumbled upon a blog with the exhilarating title ‘The Most Astonishing WordPress Plug-ins’.

You know what’s astonishing?

My parents’ cat’s incredible talent to always know if my mother bought cat food when arriving home with a bag full of groceries.

You know what else is astonishing?

That after three years in the very same house, I still for the life of me couldn’t confidently tell you what my postal code is.

You know what isn’t astonishing?

WordPress plug-ins.

So, to cut a long story short: just don’t be boring. Nobody wants to read boring stuff.

5. Don’t overdo it

If I were to translate this tip into baking terms, I’d say ‘Go easy on the sprinkles’. Some websites seem to live by some kind of more is more creed when it comes to headlines. Chances are you’ve seen them before. Showy headlines stuffed to the brim with adjectives which, while provocative, also feel a sort of idiotic. Headlines like ‘17 Lyrics That Are so Cringey They Should Have Been Cut out of the Song’ may be great clickbait but are guaranteed to bore your audience when used over and over again. Like I said in tip 4, nobody wants to read boring stuff. 

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