By Amy Andrew, Writer.
Making an entrance isn’t just for parties. Make sure readers choose your article ahead of the competition’s by creating a stand-out title. Here’s how.
So, you’ve written your article. It’s thrilling. Maybe even ground-breaking. But without a great title to represent it, people are far less likely to read it. So, here are our tips to help make sure that they can’t resist:
Forget about it.
Yep, ignoring the fact you have to do something is a pretty strange way of getting it done. Could you imagine the #fitspo fitness motivational posts? Instead of “do it”, we’d live in a world of “don’t bother”.
But, weird as it sounds, getting on with your writing and forgetting about the title is often a good way to make sure your headline is on point (when you do get round to it).
Instead of stressing about your catchy title from the beginning, start by simply noting a short topic sentence (sometimes called a ‘working title’) at the top of your piece. This is designed to help you, not engage your readers. It’s a great big reminder of what you’re trying to achieve through the piece you’re writing.
For example, for this blog, my working title was ‘five tips for writers: how to create a title that will grab their attention’. It’s not sexy, it’s not clickbait, it’s not clever. But it’s a simple reminder of what this blog needs to say.
Grab some friends.
It’s time to call in the reinforcements and have a collective thought shower. A useful way to go about it is to discuss the piece and have a think about key words; then throw about ideas, create a mind-map, doodle on your notepad, write a list, whatever works for you.
The aim of the game is to get as many catchy phrases and great words jotted down as possible. Best case scenario, you come out of the meeting with a catchy title. But more often than not, you’ve got plenty of material to work with to create one.
The practical side.
Just like that right!? Just, you know — ‘create one’…
It’s not as daunting as it might sound. But there are some practical considerations to take into account.
The first is to be accurate. This relates to respecting your readers, which I’ll talk about a little more in tip four. If you lie to them in the title, you’ll lose their trust.
- Try having fun with alliteration.
- Keep it short (between six and eight words typically generates the best click-through).
- Use strong language.
- Include numbers and lists where possible.
- Interesting adjectives are your friends.
- People like a good pun.
- Try a little hyperbole (but remember not to stray from the truth). Think: ‘Our greatest business solutions yet’ as opposed to ‘A new business solution’. It’s more compelling.
- Make your reader part of a club (again, more on this one in tip 4: ‘know your audience’).
Some other good tips, which are dependent on what you’re writing about, include: using your title to solve a problem (‘How to manage business accounts’) and letting the reader know if your piece contains unique data (‘Study reveals why eating ONLY one piece of chocolate is impossible’).
Know your audience.
You need to know what is likely to be compelling to your readers. Including a funny reference to One Direction probably won’t have any impact on the bank your business is pitching to.
If you don’t intuitively know your audience, there are ways to get an insight. Google Analytics can reveal your best-performing pages and outline what your readers like. You can also track onsite queries and use Google AdWords Keywords to find out what terms are popular.
Also, get out there and see what they’re talking about. Online, at the boardroom table, around the water cooler, in the queue at Tesco, on the dancefloor. Whatever audience you’re trying to capture, find out what matters to them, and shape your title (and your writing) around that. It makes you part of their group, and many of us can’t resist an in-joke, so it’s a great way to get people clicking.
But be careful. Those keyword searches I mentioned earlier? They’re great, but you can get into a black hole of trying to make a bunch of keywords work as a title. And this can end up distracting from the flow of your writing. If you’ve got a catchy title, that follows the tips I’ve outlined above, don’t worry too much about trying to wrap it around a keyword generator.
Or, you know, relax and let us write one for you. Here’s how to get in touch.