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Blog Dos #1: Write a good headline

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): June 16, 2006

How important is your headline in your post? For many people who read your blog, the headline of your post will determine if they read the blog or skip to the next post (or leave your blog altogether).

Marketing legend David Ogilvy repeated the importance of a headline in advertisements many times. The same importance holds true to a blog entry because like an ad, if the headline isn't interesting, why would the rest of the post be interesting?

Most people read blogs in one of three ways: 1) they read the post they have found through a search engine or a link from another site, 2) they read the whole blog by skimming the headlines and photos looking for something interesting, or 3) they use an RSS reader to read many blogs at once. RSS readers often show a portion of the article from a blog, and sometimes only the headline!

How to write a good headline
Keep it short. The headline should be succinct, showing the reader you aren't messing around, you're getting to the point.

Make it specific. Vague headlines that leave readers wondering what the post will contain are usually ineffective. Tell the reader what the post is about in the headline, and don't mislead them with hyperbole or lies. They won't return to the blog if you do.

Make it exciting. Take the juiciest part of your post and incorporate that into your headline. The reader doesn't know if this is the juiciest part, so why bury it in your article where it may never be read? Might as well tell the reader up front what the payoff for reading the post will be.

What suggestions do you have for writing headlines?

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Comments

Brian, first of all I should start by saying how much I enjoy your blog. You're in my RSS reader and I refer my clients here for great examples regularly as well.

As to your question about headlines:
- Questions work well (e.g., "Do you really want relationships?")
- Contrarian or Controversial headlines, something unexpected that surprises the reader while being relevant
- headlines with numbers in them (e.g., "5 Ways to Improve your Blog Headlines")

Thanks for all the work you put into this blog that makes it a great resource!

Shaula

Awesome suggestions Shaula. Those are great techniques!

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