How to write great headlines

You need to write a great headline to get anyone to read what you have to say – especially now, when your audience is probably reading your ad copy, website landing page, or blog post while multi-tasking with their mobile phones and laptops. But how do you write a compelling headline?Beth Fox, a copywriter with my employer iCrossing, has provided an answer through a newly published how-to article, “7 Ways to Write Eye-Popping Headlines.” The piece, which appeared on the Content Marketing Institute blog, offers practical tips, such as the importance of using numbers and lists and why it’s better to tease your audience with a little information.

“If you give away all of the important information in the headline, people won’t feel the need to read more,” she writes. “For example, the headline “High-Cholesterol Eggs May Lead to Heart Disease” gives away the entire story. Instead, something like “Breakfast Foods You Should Think Twice About” is more intriguing. It entices the reader to discover more.”

Writing effective headlines is so crucial – and challenging – that Copyblogger also offers an 11-part series (yes, 11 parts) on the topic. And popular blogger Jason Falls suggests tips from the perspective of someone who both writes and searches for compelling content.

Want to get practice with headline writing? One tip to get you started: go on Twitter each day and try to write something compelling in 140 characters or less. There’s no better way to get practice – and you can measure your success by how many retweets you get.

An update from 2016: since I wrote this post in 2012, the proliferation of content-writing resources continues to be a boon for bloggers everywhere, including those of us who sweat over the challenge of crafting the perfect headline. For instance, First Site Guide publishes a number of useful guides relevant to this blog post. More about First Site Guide here.