When it comes to reading your article, the first thing people see is the headline. It needs to grab their attention, make them pause, think ,and want to delve deeper. However, it also has to clearly address the topics in your article.
A good body… well if it’s poorly written, overly padded with waffle, insincere, or useless then you won’t hold your readers attention, you won’t encourage engagement, and all your blogging efforts were for nought.
So, how do you write a catchy headline? What makes and good hook? And how do you keep your body trim and to the point?
The Measures of a Header
The header is one of the hardest parts of the article. Simply because it has to be so precise.
It’s all very well to say things like It should include strong active phrasing, whilst encapsulating your entire piece into a few words and pinpointing your article. But how do you act on this advice?
Firstly, as you are writing your article, you want to be able to reference your header to see if your content is relevant. If you’re increasingly finding your content is going out of bounds, think about either changing the body to make it fit or go back and rewrite your header to make it relevant.
Secondly, is it interesting? If you read it, would you give it the time of day, or just move on? If it’s the latter, think about trying one of these formats:
1. A How-to
The how to format makes it clear right from the offset what’s going to happen. There will be instructions, advice and guidelines. Probably a list or two.
Start by identifying a problem that your intended reader has, then think about how they might ask google their question. Reverse engineer using as many of the same words they would use.
If people are asking the question and your header is pertaining to offer the solution, they will engage.
Just make sure your body delivers the goods!
2. Make A Statement
Sometimes we get writers block and can’t think of a clever headline… This is where making a direct statement is the easiest and most effective way to engage your reader.
3. Strike A Note Of Controversy
A controversial title grabs attention, and you know you are guilty of clicking on controversial Facebook titles, like ‘Why all guys cheat’ or ’10 proofs that your dog can sense you emotions’.
I might argue though t be careful with these, because click-bait titles are a slippery slope to writing crappy content. Also, make sure you don’t offend anyone.
However, a controversial title will bring people in and help create engagement.
4. Keep it Short and Concise
Keep it to the point. The less words the better.
Wordy headlines dilute your message and distract from the point of your post.
5. Make a “Top List”
This is one of the simplest formats to follow, and it’s ideal for SEO and getting ranked in the search engines for the more competitive terms.
Put the topic first, ideally optimized for popular search terms, and then use a “emotion-provoking” description.
Numbers grab attention and tell your audience you’re an authority. It lets them know you have something specific, concrete and real to offer them.
Just a quick mention.
Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you need to hook your reader and lead them deeper into the article
Outline the premise of the piece and promise them deep hidden mysteries and secrets.
Once they are in, you have to deliver. You’ve spent all this time creating an enticing header, you’ve drawn them in with a smiling lead and now they are getting to the good bit, you can’t disappoint.
You only get one chance to impress. If you let them down now, if you don’t deliver the strong, firm tight body of text you promised they will stop reading and probably not return. You need to write great content.
4 things to consider
Make sure it’s appropriate for your audience.
If you’re writing a more academic whitepaper you will want to adopt a more formal tone than if you are writing a blog post about dog ice cream, for example.
That being said, there is wiggle room to play with your tone, adopt false seriousness for comic effect is an effective tool. Or adopting a slightly more conversational tone on a serious, but dry topic, can make the article more readable.
This is a bug-bear for a lot of people.
Your and you’re, There, their, and they’re. Commas in the right place, correct spelling. And absolutely, unequivocally, make sure you haven’t slipped in one of those alien sentences that roam about your mind that make less sense than the final fight scene of Jurassic World.
Check, reread and double check your work. Then get someone else to read it.
Seems an obvious one, but really you are going to want to know what you’re talking about.
Do your research link to relevant articles to back up your claim. Theirs is nothing worse than being caught out at having only half an understanding of something.
Make it valuable.
Make it useful.
Make it shine.