Writing good headlines - 9 tips that entice you to read on

by Text design

Every text on the web begins with a headline. It is one of the essential elements of a website and the key to success - or possibly the reason why no one reads your posts. But what makes a good headline? We'll give you a few tips on how to formulate it.

Headline, title, headline? Actually all the same, but I prefer the English version, which literally means "header". Because it expresses much better what a headline should and can be. It is the raised head of the text, the ultimate leader. The first instance that decides on success or failure. Moreover, there is a lot of brains in a good headline.

A headline clearly has one mission: to grab the reader's attention so that he or she chooses the "read more" option.

For this, it must be understandable and short enough to be grasped within milliseconds. In addition, a headline should get to the heart of the content of the subsequent text. If it is not good enough, the following text does not exist - at least not for the user. And where there is no text, there is no success.

What a headline can do

A good headline is more than just the first line of a web text. It is a true multi-talent and can attract attention in various ways. For example, it can:

  • Arouse interest
  • Create curiosity
  • Setting impulses
  • Create tension
  • provide entertainment
  •  Arouse emotions
  • ask a question
  • Promise a solution to a problem
  • be memorable
  •  impress
  • inform
  • provoke
  • ...

Take a closer look at your previous headlines. Can they cover one or two points from the list?

If instead they are rather so-so to yawningly boring, don't worry. Anyone can learn to create good headlines. The following tips will help you.

Formulating a headline does not always have to follow the same pattern. There are various ingredients with which you can spice up your headline - feel free to experiment a little and combine them. You don't have to tick off all the items on this list. The methods that work best depend not least on your target group.


What makes you read on?

Before you memorise all the tips and rules you can find for the ultimate headline, listen to yourself for a while.

What headlines make you read a text? What emotions do they generate in you? Keep your eyes open and analyse headlines from the articles that appeal to you personally. What exactly tempts you to read on?

Take notes. Such a combination of observation and self-reflection will help you find the right words yourself and identify "no-gos".


Arouse curiosity

Use phrases that make your readers curious or otherwise arouse their interest. Maybe you reveal a secret in the text or give away a strategy for success?

Don't give too much away. After all, you want users to want to find out more. Often, such headlines are also a kind of "challenge": Can I already call myself a running pro? I just have to find out!

A master of curiosity-awakening headlines away from the mainstream is, in my opinion, the Vice Magazine. Admittedly, the titles (as well as the stories) are sometimes somewhat provocative and unusual - and therefore certainly not suitable for every target group. But that is precisely what makes it so interesting.

 "Travelling the world without money - XY reveals how". "Running like a pro - what you should know".


Ask questions

You can also arouse interest by asking a question. This method also offers an excellent opportunity to address the reader directly.

"Are you tired of working for others? Find your way to professional independence now".


Generate emotions

We are emotional beings and are guided by feelings. Love, compassion, joy, hope, fear.

A headline associated with feelings is more likely to be read than neutral lines. These do not only have to be positive feelings. They can also harness human fears and anxieties.

"How to find the love of your life" "The 5 most common reasons why relationships fail".

Empathy is also a big plus. Maybe you can speak directly from the reader's heart with your headline. So that they think "Wow, that's exactly how I feel" or "I've always wondered about that". A blog that wonderfully combines emotion and curiosity in its headlines is for example myMONK.


Use lists and rankings

Not for nothing do you find numerous headlines on the internet à la

 "With these 9 tips to a successful headline". or "Your favourite jeans are pinching? - The TOP 5 exercises for a flat stomach."

Why do lists work so well? For one thing, it gives the reader immediately clear what awaits him in the text and on the other hand, such a headline promises a Clear "scannable" text structure. Of course, it has to fit the content, not everything can be presented in lists.


Use strong words

Would you rather "get promoted" or "climb the career ladder"?

The meaning is the same, but the choice of words makes the difference here. Use strong, appealing words and synonyms and add appropriate adjectives that underpin the context.Openthesaurus or Woxicon helps you with your search.

There are also some Signal wordsthat simply go down well, for example:

  • suddenly
  • great
  • remarkable
  • amazing
  • simply
  • guaranteed
  • unique
  • immediately

Some of these are based on the British copywriter's "list of the most powerful words" in English David Ogilvy. But such terms also enjoy great popularity in German usage because they refer to basic human needs: Belonging, recognition, security. Certainly, some of these terms now have a slightly uncreative and promotional flavour, which is of course not ideal for every target group.

Tip: Which words do you or your readers react to by clicking on "Read more"? Create your personal list of strong (signal) words!


Rapid transmission of information

Address users as "you" or "you". This is more likely to make them feel addressed than impersonal wording. For example:

"How easy it is to create the perfect wedding cake". instead of "Bake your own wedding cake the easy way"

Or use the little word "we". This increases the sense of belonging.


Start with storytelling

Ideally, you tell a story with your text. Already start in your headline with the Storytelling. 

Take the opportunity to draw your readers into your story with the first line. What is special about your article or offer? Tickle out this caramel core and present it instead of 0815 routine formulations in the headline.

Decide for yourself which offer sounds more attractive:

"Register now: Wine Hiking in the Rheingau" or "On the paths of Riesling - hiking and culinary diversity in the Rheingau".


Integrate keywords sensibly

You write your texts and thus also the headlines for the readers - not for Google.

 Nevertheless, your words must first appear in the search engine results. That is why it is important for posts with which you want to rank, to Keyword within the framework of the SEO optimisation into the headline.

But what is the best way to package this without sounding stupid and artificial? Like this:

  • Isolate the keyword using a colon or dash. For example: "Lose weight successfully: with these 10 tips to your ideal figure" or "Triodos Bank - sustainability comes first here". This principle almost always works. 
  • Supplement the pragmatic "keyword headline" with a sexy subheadline. "7 vegan recipes for everyone // With these colourful vegetable creations you will even convince meat eaters".
  • Include the keyword in the headline, of course. Even if that means it is in the middle or at the end ("With these 10 tips you will finally lose weight successfully"). From an SEO point of view, it is best if the keyword is placed right at the beginning, but if it sounds stupid, it doesn't help in the end.

And afterwards?

Of course, a good headline is of little use if the text afterwards is rubbish or does not deliver what the headline promises. That's why it's important to use your brains in the follow-up text as well and tell the story in the same way!

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