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David Ogilvy once said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” 

It’s certainly true that headlines are important. But the question is: How do you write a good one?

In today’s post we’re going to share a few simple techniques for making your headlines more effective and impactful. We hope you’ll find them useful.

Make use of trigger words

What, why, and how are all examples of trigger words, so-called because they trigger a response in the reader.

When we hear trigger words, our curiosity is naturally engaged. Take the title of this post as an example. How To Write Good Headlines. The use of the word how implies that a solution is being offered.

Solutions are valuable, and all good content should be of value to its readers.

In short, trigger words make a promise to the reader: Read this and learn something valuable.

Keep things simple and clear

Wordplay and puns always seem like a surefire way to grab attention. But catchy and clever headlines won’t always work in our favour.

When sifting through the daily deluge of digital content, most people just want clarity and simplicity. So when it’s unclear exactly what a headline means, or what it’s trying to offer, then many will simply move past it. 

With this in mind, sometimes it’s best to stick with a “does what it says on the tin” approach. Let your headline say what it needs to say, and nothing more.

Incorporate numbers

Numbers can work brilliantly in headlines. If your content is list-focussed, or offers a specific number of steps for achieving a certain outcome, then numbers can be very useful.

Headlines starting with “5 Tips On…” or “The 10 Best…” are great because they immediately offer something tangible. When a reader clicks through to the content, they already know how much information they’re going to receive.

This is a great way to keep your headlines simple and direct. But be careful not to overuse it, especially on blog feeds, as it risks making your content appear one-dimensional.

Be sincere

If you run a blog, you need to consider the legacy and integrity of your content. Being sincere in what you offer will, therefore, establish you as a source of reliable and quality information.

In other words, if all your posts and articles deliver on what their headlines promise, you’ll become known as a provider of good content. The opposite is also true.

So the secret behind this technique is to simply be honest. Don’t lure people in with a flashy headline and then disappoint them with half-hearted content.

Try to be sincere in what you offer, and aim for quality of content over quantity of clicks.

Keep writing

For more on fundamental copywriting skills, see How To Write A Compelling Call-To-Action, and How To Improve Your Brand Storytelling.