The New York Post should probably not be admired for much, but when it comes to creating attention-grabbing headlines, they’ve always been in a league of their own.

This might be the most famous one.

The Post has always sought to yank the reader by the neck and practically command them to dive deeper into the tabloid. While we find avoiding tales of headless bodies a smart business move, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your headlines stand out and help get your content noticed.

Here’s why headlines are so important:

  • Headlines are the first thing your reader will see
  • Headlines show up in search engine results
  • Headlines drive how people link and share to content on social media

A wise man once said “A dull headline will lose a reader faster than a waffle loses heat,” and yes, the statistics overwhelmingly show no one likes cold waffles. So with that in mind, here are some tips for writing great headlines:

Capture the Attention: Ask yourself, “Would I stop to read this article?” That answer needs to be yes. Use bold, urgent language.

Keep It Clear & Simple: A simple title is always better than a complicated one. Boil your content down to its core concept, maybe two or three words, then build from there.

Make a Promise and Deliver on It: Great headlines offer a compelling promise to the reader and then deliver on that promise.

Know Your SEO: When possible, use SEO-friendly keywords in your headline. But remember, your rule of thumb should be writing a great headline, not stuffing in keywords. See our blog post on Choosing Great Keywords for more information.

Stay Positive: Negative headlines are a turn-off, plus they can reflect poorly on your brand. Leave words like “Scams,” “Stop,” “Mistakes,” “Never,” and “Not,” to other websites.

Use Lists: Internet guru Paul Graham says readers love lists because it guides the reader through the topic and doesn’t force them to think hard. “7 Ways to Slice a Melon” will always get more clicks than “A Thorough Lesson in Melon Slicing.”

Use How-Tos: Everyone wants to know how to do something; “How to Slice a Melon” might not be the hottest of topics, but the title is good for what the subject is.

Use Celebrities: Sometimes – and only when it makes sense – attaching a movie or pop star to your article can really help its click-ability. But use this tactic wisely. “X Business Lessons from Tim Cook” has a better chance of succeeding than “X Business Lessons from Busta Rhymes.”

No offense, Busta.

Need more help? It’s always beneficial to see what the headline masters come up with. Sites like Gawker and Huffington Post are always writing eye-catching headlines. Or the next time you’re at the supermarket, glance at the cover of Cosmopolitan or one of the tabloids. While you’re not looking to cover the same subject matter, you can still glean some pointers on how to lure the reader.

Want a little more help? And by “help” we mean letting Media Shower write the headlines and content for you? OK, let’s do it! Take our services for a spin with a free trial today!