Discover the Secrets to Writing “Killer” Web Headlines!
In Wordtracker’s new e-book, “Killer Headlines for Web Content,” you’ll learn:
- 15 Different Approaches to Writing Compelling, Shareable Headlines
- Simple everyday words that pack serious headline punch
- How to use questions to pique people’s curiosity
- How to use controversy to draw readers right in
- Why fear makes for powerful headline material
- How to use numbered lists to command readers' attention
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Headline Writing: Get Ahead in a Changing Game
“MAN ELECTROCUTED BY LIGHTNING BUG!”
The above is an actual headline taken from a 2005 issue of the National Enquirer— and chances are you’ve been drawn to one just like it while standing in your supermarket’s checkout line. For decades, headlines have played a vital role in driving readership for print publications. The objective? Grab the reader’s attention instantly and make them hunger for the full story.
On the internet today, headlines need to work even harder. Content writers must not only catch the reader’s eye with clever prose; they must optimize their headlines with keywords to gain favor in Google and other search engine listings.
And the rise of social media is changing the game once again. Beyond writing headlines for our readers and the search engines, we are now also writing them to succeed on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, a host of other social networking sites.
Why is Headline Writing So Important on the Web?
A smartly written web headline can be likened to the icing on a delectable chocolate cake: it tempts the viewer to dig right in — and then ask for more. The quality of your headlines determines how many people visit your online content, how long they stay on your pages, and how many become subscribers or customers.
No matter how informative or exciting the content, your online article won’t be read if your headline is lackluster. Make this crucial mistake, and you’ll lose a ton of exposure through the search engines and social media — exposure that could have garnered you new customers, more sales and increased revenue for your business.
The bottom line is this: writing powerful online headlines is absolutely vital to the success of your business.
And although writing headlines has always been something of an art form, writing headlines for the web is a separate craft entirely. They still need to jump out, compel attention and drive your readers into the body of the content. But now they have to do it all within the constraints of the modern online environment.
Below are the five major factors to consider when writing headlines for the web:
Factor #1: Search Engine Optimization (Write Headlines Google Will Love)
Content writers today must please Google with their headlines as much as their readers. This may entail sacrificing clever ideas in favor of targeted keywords.
If you’re a writer, the pressures to consider SEO can be frustrating. But it can actually be fun channeling your creative juices into coming up with something brilliant under severe constraints. Kind of like writing a few sonnets or a haiku.
And the payoff can be huge: a grabby, well-optimized headline can attract traffic to your site not only today, but potentially for years down the road. That’s why SEO knowledge is an essential skill for anyone writing online headlines.
Factor #2: Social Media (Write Shareable Headlines)
Social media is playing an increasingly important role in determining which of our site pages are read, and by how many people. Consider this: if an article you write — with a great headline — gains traction on Facebook, you’ll see a surge in traffic to that page. And with social media, the effect can be nearly instantaneous. Instead of waiting days for Google to index your pages, you can gain thousands of immediate visitors by going viral on Twitter.
Something else to consider is the fact that social media optimization is now overlapping with SEO — meaning that Google looks for “social signals” when calculating page ranking. If your page is widely shared on Twitter and Facebook, it gets a thumbs-up from Google that can be just as powerful as a link-back from an authority domain.
Factor #3: Word Count (Write Headlines That Say More with Less)
Writing short, punchy headlines pays — in more ways than one.
For example, on Twitter, the maximum length of a Tweet is 140 characters — including the shortened URL, which typically is 17 characters in length. When you factor in leaving room for the retweeting command (which allows others to share your tweet), you could be left with as little as 80 characters for the headline. If you can get your point across in that limited space, you’ll have a tweet that can be easily shared by others again and again.
And shorter headlines simply do a better job of commanding people’s attention. Remember the lightning bug headline from earlier? It’s a mere five words long. Pick up any newspaper and you’ll spot a similar trend. Whether standing in the checkout line or viewing a web page, readers scan before they read in-depth. So piquing their interest as quickly as possible is crucial.
Factor #4: Isolation
As content writers, we generally assume readers will see the headline right above the body content — or at least with an accompanying photo, image or block of introductory text. In these instances, the headline works only when read in conjunction with one of more of these other elements.
But what if your headline is read as part of an RSS feed, on Facebook, or Google+?
With social media, we must write headlines with the knowledge they may be read in isolation, without supporting text or blurbs. On social media sites, when headlines are seen alone or listed with hundreds of other headlines, they must be fully understandable and compelling enough to get the reader to click through.
Factor #5: Design
Is the visual design of an online headline important? You bet it is. When people scan a page quickly on a social networking site like Digg, for example, it’s critical to catch their eye and command their attention. Consider these two headlines:
- Photo of Octopus with Nine Arms
- Octopus With 9 Arms! [PHOTO]
The second version has been designed with social media in mind. Which version of the headline would catch your eye in a fast-moving Twitter stream?
Feeling Panicked Yet?
With so many “rules” to keep in mind, it may seem like writing the ideal web headline is an impossible task — or one best left for the pros.
But rest easy. The truth is, once you learn a few tried-and-true strategies, you’ll be whipping up mouthwatering headlines like it was second nature. In Wordtracker’s latest e-book, we give you simple techniques for writing headlines that will make readers do a double-take. Intrigued? Keep reading!
Introducing the Essential Guide to Writing “Killer” Web Headlines
Penned by copywriting master Nick Usborne, “Killer Headlines for Web Content: 15 Different Approaches to Writing Compelling, Shareable Headlines for Your Web Content” explores 15 different and highly effective approaches to writing first-rate online headlines.
In the book, Nick dissects each approach carefully, shows specific examples, and gives you a practical analysis of what makes each headline really captivate. With many of the examples, he even goes on to suggest potential improvements that could have made them work even better.
When you dig into “Killer Headlines,” you’ll learn:
- How to use numbered lists to capture readers' attention
- Why the promise of multimedia is like headline candy
- How to strategically use warnings in your headlines
- Why the "how to" approach is a timeless headline technique
- How to use questions effectively in headlines
- Simple words that pack serious headline punch
- How to use controversy to lure readers right in
- … and much more!
The vast majority of the headline examples Nick uses in the book are plucked directly from real sites like Digg.com, Reddit.com and other popular social media destinations. You can be confident you’re studying headlines that have a proven track record of getting noticed on the web.
Will Nick’s Approaches Work for Any Type of Web Content?
The answer is a resounding “yes!” Although many of the examples Nick uses in the book have a news or story component, that doesn’t mean they appeared exclusively in conjunction with articles or press announcements.
In fact, many of the headlines cited in “Killer Headlines for Web Content” appear on static website pages. They were created by savvy writers who truly understand how to write stand-out web headlines.
There are 45 headline examples in this guide, and Nick has added detailed commentary to each of them. Out of the 45, we guarantee you’ll find some approaches that will work wonderfully for your company or website. Nearly every type of marketing content — both online and offline — can benefit from an effective headline, including:
- Business website content
- Press releases
- Email blasts
- Sales letters
- … and more!
Who is This Book For?
“Killer Headlines for Web Content” is designed for people of all levels of ability and involvement in online marketing. Below is just a cross-section of those who will benefit from the lessons contained within:
- Website owners looking to ramp up their marketing efforts
- Businesses with a website that isn’t ranking well in the search engines
- Web design agencies that want to raise their clients' profile
- Those looking to improve their social media profile
This book is ideal for absolutely anyone interested in learning how to get more mileage out of the content they put online!
Learn From a Seasoned Copywriting Pro
Nick Usborne is an award-winning author with dozens of years of experience in direct response copywriting and online content production. You can find his articles and commentary on Clickz.com, MarketingProfs.com, iMediaConnection.com, Business 2.0 and other sites.
With a client roster that includes Adorama, Reuters, WebEx and more, Nick uses his copywriting expertise to help thousands of small business owners and entrepreneurs write better, more valuable content online. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what others have said about Nick:
“We had a great product that no copywriter seemed to be able to sell. I asked Nick to write a sales page in March of 2005 and it instantly increased sales four-fold. Amazingly, 18 months and many tests later, it is still our control!”
- Michael Lovitch, Co-Founder of The Hypnosis Network
"Nick sees directly into the practical side of the Web. What makes it work? How do you leverage the power of the Internet to create greater value? How do you hold the attention of an audience long enough for each and every one of them to learn something important? Nick Usborne has the answers."
- Jim Sterne, Author, World Wide Web Marketing, Internet World's Top Rated Speaker Five Years Running
"Nick Usborne has had a truly transformational effect on the way we at VanDyke Software choose our words."
- Marc Orchant, VanDyke Software
"Nick possesses a sixth sense when it comes to the customer - he understands what makes them tick, how they talk, what motivates them. And he has an x-ray sort of vision about the material for which he prepares copy - he brilliantly translates features into benefits. And he does so with an elegance that simplifies the complex and makes the ordinary extraordinary."
- Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, FutureNow, Inc.
With just 64 streamlined pages, “Killer Headlines for Web Content” is about as practical as books can get. Once you’ve read this comprehensive yet easy-to-follow guide, you’ll be cranking out red-hot headlines like an assembly line!
Remember, writing headlines for the web is a whole new craft.
And the people and companies that take the time to learn this craft have a huge advantage over everyone else.
So why not give yourself the edge you need to get the traffic, customers and success you want online?
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