What is the secret of Buzzfeed, Mashable and Huffington Post's success? It is very simple. Their irresistible headlines and their shareable content.
How often do you glance at a headline and stop what you were doing to click it to find out more?
For me, headlines that always beg me to click on them read something like "Hair Freezing Contest is the Most Canadian Thing Ever" or "Lost For 1,500 Years, But No Longer". They are sensational headlines that make it almost irresistible to click on them.
With thousands of messages in their Twitter stream, Facebook feed or email inbox, you have less than three seconds to entice your readers to click and read your content! Or as David Ogilvy puts it: "When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” - David Ogilvy
How to Write The Prefect Headline
So the other day I read a great post by QuickSprout "The formula for a perfect headline". They made a great infographic that summarizes the best and worst elements of a headline.
So, let's have a look what the secret is to craft a perfectly irresistible headline:
- Keep it short and sweet - headlines over 65 characters will be cut off in search results
- Headlines consisting of 6 words tend to perform best
- People scan headlines, they read the first and the last three words
- Reference your reader directly to grab more attention
- Use interesting adjectives to add color, such as world-class, intelligent, fascinating
- Use negative words to tap into the human fear of missing out or doing something wrong (e.g., no, stop)
- Headlines using numbers (digits) hint to numbered lists which promises efficiency - the higher the number, the higher the shares will be
- Personalize your headlines by giving a little extra to increase your readers curiosity
Bottomline: The Formula For The Perfect Headline
It all boils down to a simple formula: Number or Trigger Word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise.
Now it may seem simple but keep in mind that a great writer spends about half of his time writing the body copy and the other half on creating the perfect headline.