Headlines That Grab Readers by the Eyeballs and Suck Them into Your Message

This is a guest post by Ray Edwards. He is is a marketing strategist, copywriter, speaker, and author. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. (I recommend both!) If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

If you’re a blogger who wants more traffic, more readers, and more engagement with your tribe, this post is for you. I’m sharing a simple five-part framework that will make your blog post titles (“headlines”) more compelling.

In my work as a marketing consultant and copywriter, I see this problem all the time: great content obscured by boring titles and headlines.

A brief story: Morgan is a client who runs an executive consulting business, and she recently started a blog as a way of marketing her services. She called me to ask what she was doing wrong.

“I post lots of content, and it’s helpful stuff. But nobody seems to read it. I get zero comments.”

I brought up her blog on my laptop, and the first post I saw was entitled The Dynamics of Organizational Change Management During Transitional Periods. I read the post. She was right-it was good content. But for some reason she had crowned it with a repulsive title.

Virtually all her posts shared this flaw.

“I think I see your problem,” I said. “Nobody’s interested in reading an article with that title. Your title makes the post sound like a doctoral dissertation. You need a more appealing headline.”

“Okay,” she said, “what would you suggest?”

I thought about the movie I had watched over the weekend.

“How about something like The Avengers Guide To Building Superhero Teams During Troubled Times?

It took some convincing for Morgan to believe this wasn’t a bit over-the-top, but finally she took my suggestion. Is it a coincidence that later that day this particular blog post actually began to get comments from readers? I think not.

The post titles you choose for your blog serve the same purpose as headlines in a newspaper or magazine. They either draw the reader in, or they push the reader away.

Here are five essential qualities of a compelling headline:

  1. Grabs Attention. Your headline’s number-one job is to grab the reader’s attention.  To accomplish this, your headline must either make a claim or promise, evoke an emotional response, or stir up curiosity.

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  2. Screens and Qualifies Readers. Choose specific words that segment out the exact “tribe” you want to reach. Headlines that apply to everyone can just as easily apply to no one.

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  3. Draws Readers into the Body Copy. Remember you’re not selling your concept or proposition in the headline. You’re making one sale only: the idea of reading the rest of the post.

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  4. Communicates the “Big Idea.” What is the one true benefit of your post, and how can you communicate that to your readers in a way that is meaningful to them? Put that in your headline.

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  5. Establishes Credibility. Authority is one of the most powerful ways of gaining attention. If you have an “authority card” to play, play it in the headline if possible.

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  6. Incorporating these five principles into your blog post titles should bring you more traffic, more readers, and more engagement with your tribe.

    Question: What are some other qualities you think great headlines should include?