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Captivate Your Readers with These 11 Spell-Binding Headline Tactics

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Editor’s Note: This post was written by Alicia Rades, a freelance writer and blogger with a passion for giving useful writing tips. When she’s not working for clients, you can find her updating her blog at TheWritingRealm.com or working on other fun writing projects. Connect with Alicia on Google+.

Captivate with Magic

You spent hours slaving over that single blog post.

You back hurts, your head aches, and your fingers need a rest.

Despite that, you’re darn proud of the post, so you schedule it, share it on social media, and sit back to watch the traffic come in.

Chirp, chirp

Seriously? Where are you going wrong? Do all pro bloggers have magic wands to help drive traffic?

Sorry to disappoint, but they don’t have magical powers (that I know of). However, they are masters of spell-binding headlines.

(Photo Credit: wetribe via Compfight cc)

Your headline is vital. With hundreds of bloggers throwing thousands of headlines at the same readers each day, you need yours to stand out. If your headlines don’t capture readers’ attention and pull them in, people aren’t going to bother reading the awesome things you have to say.

Brian Clark of Copyblogger says it well:

Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.

To attract readers to your content, focus on crafting captivating headlines. No need for a magic wand. Simply start with these 11 headline tactics to spark ideas.

1) Make it Educational
The educational headline is one of the most used by bloggers today, and that’s because it’s easy and effective. These posts are generally step-by-step guides, how-to articles, or explanations of a complex topic. Educational articles are most successful when you can pinpoint what your readers want to learn and then deliver that valuable information.

Use it when:

  • Your main focus is to teach your audience.
  • Your readers are eager to learn.
  • You write a guide outlining the subject.

Example: How to Create a Successful Blog in 8 Easy Steps

2) Connect it With the News
Using the news to supplement your topic makes it feel fresh, and it easily connects your content with a wide audience. These posts tend to drive traffic because they’re eye-catching, readers get excited about trending topics, and when connected with an unrelated subject, it sparks curiosity.

The key word here is connect. Don’t regurgitate the news. Instead, teach your readers or tell your story using trending topics to support your main idea.

Use it when:

  • You can deliver readers something of value by relating to a trending topic.
  • You want to give a new perspective to your topic.
  • You want to generate quick traffic.

Example: Can You Write the Next “Fifty Shades of Grey?”

3) Tell a True Story

headline tactics

Photo Credit: Chiara Cremaschi via Compfight cc

Telling true stories is sometimes good and sometimes bad. They are effective when you have a success story to tell since people want to know that what you’ve done is possible and they want to know how to do it. When used properly, true story headlines are very effective since readers want to hear from people who truly know what they’re talking about.

Avoid using a story headline when your readers don’t care about your success (such as if they’ve succeeded in the same endeavor) or when your story doesn’t spark intrigue.

Use it when:

  • Your readers have something to learn from your experience.
  • You need to emphasize why the subject matters.
  • Your story will emotionally connect with the readers.

Example: How I Doubled My Unique Visitors in Six Months (And Tripled Them in a Year)

4) Create a List

List headlines are also common among bloggers because they’re catchy and they often promise value. Readers are hungry for resources, so when you give 20, 50, or 200 resources, you want them to know what you’re offering.

List posts also work well in smaller numbers when you’re giving steps, tips, or secrets. Readers love these titles because it prepares them for what’s to come.

Use it when:

  • You create a collection of resources.
  • You write a step-by-step guide.
  • You offer a group of tips on the same subject.

Example: 12+ Best Online Website Builders to Create New Face for Authentic Web Presence

5) Ask Your Readers a Question
You have two options when writing a question headline:

  • Ask a question readers have.
  • Ask your readers a question.

One of your main goals as a blogger is to answer your readers’ questions. Pinpoint their questions and use them as your post titles. This tells the reader, “You asked this question, and I’m going to answer it.” Except honestly it doesn’t matter if your readers have asked the question before or not as long as they’re interested in discovering the answer.

Another useful tactic for asking questions is to call your reader out and make them answer your question.

For instance, if you’re writing about generating blog traffic, you can go the route of “How Do You Successfully Generate Quality Blog Traffic?” You can also ask your own question, such as “Are You Making These Content Marketing Mistakes?”

Use it when:

  • Other people ask the question but don’t yet have an answer.
  • You want your reader to answer the question.
  • You want to intrigue your readers and get them to read the answer.

Example: Blogging for Hire: What’s in it for You?

6) Solve a Problem
Most blog posts solve a problem, but the problem is often written somewhere between the lines and the solution is usually fleshed out. Keep things simple by highlighting the solution in the title.

The example below – a post for resources for writers –  illustrates perfectly how to present a solution. Readers want to know how to ramp up their freelance writing career, and the title promises that the FWJ resources area can help. They’ll visit the post to figure out how to use the solution to their advantage.

Use it when:

  • Your post focuses on the solution.
  • You’re teaching a narrowed subject.

Example: Ramp Up Your Freelance Writing Career – Visit the FWJ Resources Area!

7) Connect With a New Idea
Readers don’t want to read about the same topic twice, and you can grip your readers and teach them something entirely new by connecting your idea with an unrelated topic.

You could read thousands of articles on “How to Use Description,” but what value is that to you if everyone regurgitates the same information? In the example below, the author connects writing to architecture, which helps the mind better visualize how to build strong writing with description.

This type of headline is particularly effective when you have a complicated subject. When you connect with a new idea that the reader understands, it allows the reader to better comprehend the complex subject.

Keep in mind: When your title connects to an unrelated idea, make sure your content makes the same connection.

Use it when:

  • You want to offer a new perspective on your topic.
  • There are already a lot of resources on your topic available.
  • Your topic is complicated and better taught with a related subject.

Example: Write Like an Architect: Description by Design

8) Imply Time-Sensitive Information

headline tactics

Photo Credit: Matt Callow via Compfight cc

When you use dates, holidays, or other time-sensitive information in your headline, it encourages your readers to act fast and get the information now. It tells your readers that your content is fresh and only relevant for a short period of time.

Don’t use this type of headline when there’s not actually something time-sensitive about the content or when you want your article to generate traffic for months or years to come.

Use it when:

  • The content is only relevant for a short period.
  • You want to generate quick traffic.
  • You want your readers to act soon.

Example: A Writer’s Checklist for the 2014 Google Changes

9) Play off Your Readers’ Curiosity
Curiosity is a strong emotion, and strong emotions are what push readers to click on your links and read your content.

Use your readers’ curiosity to pull them into your story and make them want to discover what they’re missing. Titles like “5 Secrets to…” or “The One Thing That…” are often effective because readers don’t want to miss out on the secret.

To craft a successful curiosity headline, you have to give enough information that readers know what the subject matter is while still hiding something to spark interest. Most importantly, don’t leave your readers disappointed by revealing something they already know.

Use it when:

  • You want to elicit strong emotions.
  • You have solid advice that readers haven’t heard before.
  • Your readers already have a strong interest in the subject and want to learn more.

Example: The Secret to Killer Social Media Content

10) Make a Promise (And Keep It!)
Most people read blogs because they’re looking for a solution to a problem. If you can promise that your strategy works to solve that issue, readers are more inclined to read what you have to say.

The tricky part to this is that you can’t disappoint. If you make a promise, ensure your content proves its effectiveness.

Use it when:

  • You’re confident in the strategy and want readers to test it out.
  • Your post aims to produce results.
  • You want to create a trusting relationship with your readers.

Example: Boost Your Blog’s Success by Choosing the Perfect Photo

11) Shock Your Readers
Shocking your readers in your headline is one of the best ways to get them to read farther. This initial shock creates a valuable emotional connection that pushes your readers forward. These headlines work well with statistics or factual statements. Make sure not to reveal everything about your post in the headline.

Use it when:

  • Your post highlights a little-known fact.
  • You want to create a strong emotional connection.

Example: Social Media Posts Can Lead to Jail Time

Your headline is where your success begins because it’s the first thing your readers see that will either push them to read the rest of the article or cause them to skip over your post.

Next time you’re struggling with your headline, come back here and choose one of these methods to use with your post.

Remember: You don’t have to limit yourself to one option. You can always combine tactics for double or triple effect.

What tactics do you use? Did any of these suggestions spark an idea? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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This post was written by . You can visit the for a short bio, more posts, and other information about the author.


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Comments

  1. Jennifer Mattern ) says: 2/19/2014

    Great ideas here Alicia! I’m especially a fan of tutorial-style posts and focusing on questions (both asking them and answering them).

    Reply

    • Alicia Rades ) says: 2/19/2014

      Thanks for stopping by Jenn!

      Reply

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