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6 tips for writing a great headline

By Morgan Stark

Learn how to write headlines that will attract more readers

44977597_s“Titles are what sell the content.” – HubSpot

What makes you want to read an article? A title that catches your attention, right? Apply that same approach to writing your headlines. Below are tips to help you attract more readers and, in time, gain more customers through better headlines.




Tip No. 1: Be specific.

“You’ll need to get the most interesting point across fast, which means you can’t be vague about it.” – NPR

I love how NPR describes writing a specific headline. It uses the analogy of trying to get a point across while an elevator door is shutting. Put yourself in that scenario to brainstorm headline ideas. Don’t be vague; you’ll leave readers confused, and they won’t bother clicking on the article.

Tip No. 2: Use certain types of headlines with particular words and phrases.

According to HubSpot, informative headlines such as lists and how-to guides and headlines with numbers get more shares than those that don’t contain these elements. Use these tips and examples from HubSpot to write engaging headlines:

  • Include numbers.
    Example: 9 public relations mistakes
  • Add an attractive adjective.
    Example: 9 common public relations mistakes
  • Use call-to-action words.
    Example: 9 common public relations mistakes you should avoid
  • Use positive words.
    Example: 9 ways to make your public relations campaign awesome

HubSpot created a visual example of how to compose an attention-grabbing headline: <EMBED>


Tip No. 3: Write headlines like the media does.

Writing headlines like the media can be challenging. PR Daily offers some tips for writing headlines like the media does:

  • Keep it short.
  • Avoid braggadocio.
  • Be interesting.
  • Use interesting data.
  • Avoid jargon.
  • Write it for the right journalist.


Tip No. 4: Use keywords for SEO and human readers.

Optimize your content by using keywords that your ideal readers will search for. If you want to attract your ideal customer, use specific keywords that will help your customer accomplish a goal or solve a problem. For example, if you own a piano tuning company, writing a headline such as “Piano tuning services in Jacksonville, Florida” will help your blog post gain more targeted readers. Using your company’s location in the headline will get the attention of potential customers in your area. Fine-tune your SEO to attract customers. (Pardon the pun!)

Tip No. 5: Try out keyword tools to choose the perfect words for your headline.

HubSpot suggests finding keywords by using these tools:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Google Trends
  • Keyword Tool.io
  • Term Explorer
  • Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Explorer
  • SEMRush
  • Ahrefs
  • Accuranker
  • HubSpot’s Content Strategy Tool

Using keyword tools will help pinpoint what words to include in your headline. Some of the tools are free, so use them to your advantage to find the absolute best words to use in your headline.

Tip No. 6: Review the past 30 days for blog posts and the past 24 hours for news releases.

This tip is very practical when composing a headline. Look at what other bloggers and journalists are writing about and what the latest headlines are in newspapers. Doing so will inspire you and help you create a headline that stands out from the rest. A little research goes a long way when writing a unique headline.

Takeaway: Keep your target audience in mind when writing headlines. And remember, the title of a news release for a journalist will look different from a headline for a blog post. Your audience is who determines the direction your headline will go.

For more information on writing the best headline, download Axia Public Relations’ complimentary e-book “Learn Media Relations from the Media” today.

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Morgan PictureMorgan Stark is a senior at the University of North Florida working toward a Bachelor of Science in public relations.


Featured image credit: 123rf.com 

Topics: SEO, PR tips, earned media, owned media

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