Eye-catching titles can make you or break you in journalism, blogging or academia. Titles serve the function to grab the attention of the reader and give some idea about the content of the article, without revealing too much. On the internet, where content is carried most of the time through social media and attention is sparse, the title has to achieve a lot, in a limited time span, just like an elevator pitch.
Online publications range from high-quality journalism like The Guardian to more entertainment driven websites like Buzzfeed or Mashable. Regardless of editorial policy, they all strive for catchy titles. Here are some ways to achieve this:
Writing Eye-Catching Titles
People will only read the article if the title incites them. A good trick to get people to read is to use a trampoline like in this example from Forbes: “Bitcoin Just Hit $8,000 — Here’s What’s Pushing It Up”. A good technique is to introduce a fact and give the promise of a larger explanation.
Use a formula that works
Many titles that work are actually following a template, entering in one of those categories, according to Inc.com:
- How to titles
This type is used especially for tutorials. “Some target groups are really oriented towards learning fast and effectively, like college students. How to articles work perfectly for tutorials. I am aware of this from an extensive experience,” considers Daniel Scuteri, Community Manager at RatedByStudents.
Even while shopping, “how to” articles are useful. Take this title as an example: “How to get a student discount on MacBook and other Apple products”.
- Guide titles
This type should use the word “guide” in the title to explain clearly what is the ultimate outcome. Here is a good title: “18 Summers: The Ultimate Guide to Not Wasting a Single Vacation With Your Kids”
- “Insert adjective here” ways to achieve something
“People often focus on the quality of the solution you bring them through an article, just like in marketing when you have to tell them about the benefits of the product”, said Tristan Scott, product developer at GetGoodGrade.com, at a recent marketing conference.
So bring more to the table by adding some quality to your title: “swift”, “easy”, “great”, “awesome”, “amazing” and many more adjectives can convince people to read on.
- Essential – all you need to know
The article will be of service to the reader if it spears the effort to go through a big amount of information. The promise of concise information with best result will surely come with reading on the article.
- “Secrets of” or Tips
Revealing some secrets or tips is always a good hook to get people interested to read an article. It is also inciting to give a quantitative indication, like in this example:
“3 Tips on How To Advance Your Career as a Woman” from Entrepreneur.com.
Here is a useful infographic from Twelveskip that shows more in depth how you can use effective templates for your titles.
Use the transformative power of the headline
Research conducted by Buzzsumo on 100 million web articles revealed that the best performing titles contained the words “that can make you”, in other words, people are looking for the personal utility that they have from reading a piece of information.
It is also an inherent promise about an emotional impact. The palette of emotions can range from positive emotions like anticipation, interest, joy or can cover negative emotions like disgust, anger or sadness.
Here are some examples of linking through “that can make you”:
- “20 Pictures that Will Make You Hope in a better World”
- “What This Dad did for His Daughter will make your Heart melt”
- “6 Tips that will make You a better Friend without losing Anything”.
For the sake of SEO, insert a keyword
Krystina Klein, an SEO specialist from HotEssayServices has a more pragmatic view towards effective titles: “I have often found that the website must adapt to the user journey and more often than never, the user would arrive at the website through search. I think it is critical to use a powerful key-word in the title.”
Limit the length
The maximum size that makes a title readable is 70 characters, a rule newly used by the Google search engine. The rule allows 10-15 extra-characters, after which, the content is truncated represented by brackets.
Though Huffington Post doesn’t cultivate the shortest titles, it is surely part of an efficient strategy to get people to read on.
Here are some good examples:
- “18 Fall Coats You’ll Wish You’d Bought While They’re On Sale at Nordstrom”
- “Here’s What Makes Cher’s Career So Uniquely Iconic”
- “Crop Failure and Bankruptcy Threaten Farmers as Drought Grips Europe”
Make your research
While working on an article, use available tools online, related to your needs. If you are looking for a more academic content, use resources from Thesaurus.com, RewardedEssays or SupremeDissertations. If you consider translating content from other languages, select some help from IsAccurate.com.
And last but not least, pay attention to Grammar. Proper English rules suggest you should capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. For a more in-depth understanding of the rules, check out this guide.
In the end
Great titles work to excite the human imagination. As long as there is a story out there with the possibility of transformation for a character or for the reader, people will want to know what happens next.
Bio: Leona Henryson is a seasoned blogger and UX designer at Essay Supply. When she is not writing or designing, she is swimming, hiking, and, weather permitting, snowboarding