After Tuesday’s post I’m sure you will be keen to improve your headlines for all the benefits that they offer. Today I want to give you a simple formula that will work for most blog post. Now, I need to warn you that it won’t work for every blog post and certainly for the more reflective blog post that are just for yourself, you might want to consider different options.However, this simple simple headline formula will help you easily create a good headline that grabs eye balls.
The Simple Instant Blog Headline Formula
Number + Interesting Adjective + Type of post + Keyword + Result
So here are some examples from my site.
- 7 Illuminating tips to take stunning photos with your iPhone
- 13 irresistible reasons why you should always use images in your blog posts
As you can see I’ve taken many of the elements of this formula but not the result. The reason for that is partially that Google doesn’t like too long headlines (it doesn’t show the whole thing) but also because it is not a thing I’ve always thought about (hey I’m being honest here).
Most of these articles have been my most successful and attract the most traffic from Search engines and social media channels. The only ones that get close to competing are a couple of photos and info graphics that have been picked up by others and gone semi-viral. There are some simple reasons for this.
List Posts Are VERY Popular
A list post (numbered items) are very popular because you know what you are going to get from it. 7 tips means, 7 simple actions to carry out. 5 reasons = maybe one of them is the reason for this happening to you etc etc.
They are clear, obvious and they lead to articles that are easy to scan and work out if you should read them in more depth.
A couple of tips here.
- The low odd numbers are better than even ones (I have no idea why but this is really true of 3, 7 and 9).
- Long lists are as good (if not better) than short lists (but you need to make your explanations shorter for the longer lists). 50/100/200 or even higher can have massive appeal just due to their size.
- Long lists suck for the “best” (wow 100 “best” bible translations? really?)
- Lists don’t work for every topic (it’s amazing how people sometimes try and cram a list in when it really shouldn’t be)
I generally prefer “beige prose” in my writing (short of adjectives, using actions to tell the experience) but the right adjective in a headline will make it stand out. Try not to use standard adjective like “good” “great” or “terrible” instead think about the emotions and experiences that this article should give and use those ones. I chose illuminating because I wanted the person to think about the poorly taken murky night shot and how it could be different. I used irresistible because I wanted the person to be completely convinced by the end.
The main takeaway is don’t stick to comfortable usual adjective, think a bit more, use a thesaurus and consider the emotion you want to evict from someone.
Don’t Just Mention The Topic, Be Specific
Look at the below examples and tell me which is best.
- On substitutional atonement
- 8 fascinating things on substitutionary atonement
- 8 fascinating perspectives on substitutionary atonement.
I’m willing to bet you think the last one is the best one because it is specific and yet still ambiguous. Using just the keyword doesn’t entice someone to read unless they know that you write good posts. Adding a list makes it better but we don’t know what they are about. It could be just a random list that makes no sense.
By being just a tad more specific we both build expectation and create more intrigue. Imagine “8 mind blowing effects truly appreciating substitutionary atonement can have on your life.” It’s much more specific than “substitutionary atonement” as a title but I bet you’d really like to know what these effects are.
Explain the benefit
This might seem strange for some people. I know I find it hard to do myself but if you are writing for your readers and not for yourself then you should explain the benefit. Sometimes it might seem self evident what the benefit of the post is but think about the result beyond the immediate impact.
If you take my last Macdaily and we changed it a bit to
“7 Illuminating tips to take stunning photos with your iPhone and wow your friends.”
Now it’s even better, it reinforces how good these photos are and it is more persuasive for people who wouldn’t be interested before.
As I say this might be getting a bit too long to have as the actual title on the blog post, but there is no reason this shouldn’t be the title you share the post with.
Keyword is just a fancy name for topic. Well really it is the main word that people will search for this blog post under. Having the keyword will help build peoples expectation and help you with search engines. You can include the first word you think of, but it’s also worth considering synonyms and near synonyms. Google is getting better at looking at near synonyms and valuing them well. Plus if everyone is talking about headlines, maybe it’s better to talk about titles?
A word of warning
Although I’ve recommended this system and think it can work really well as a basic framework. Honestly, I hate it when ever blog post I see follow this formula! It can feel a bit reductionist at times (oh really there are only 4 steps to christian perfection? Thank you mr blogger) but at the same time I read more of these posts than posts simply called “subsititutionary atonement” and when they are done right I just can’t resist reading them.
I’m going to give you some other headline formulas in the never few weeks and I’m still learning them but this is a good solid one to start with.