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6 steps to write effective news headlines

30 November 2018

How to write a headline

How many headlines do you read without clicking through? On average eight people will read a headline and only two will click through, so it’s important to have a headline that will entice readers to click and read your story. Here are six tips that will help you create an effective headline.

1. Use simple but powerful language

Simple language gives readers an immediate understanding of what the story is about prompt click throughs when they’re interested in more detail. To help foster a connection to the article, powerful and emotional words can be intertwined to catch and maintain attention.   Headlines with a higher emotional appeal tend to receive more shares across social media platforms. Emotional words may include ‘guaranteed’, ‘obsession’, ‘innovative’, ‘urgent’, ‘pioneering’, ‘whopping’ and ‘frightening’.

2. Include numbers

Numbers in a headline promises a structured and easy read for the audience. Use numbers for blog titles when you’ve written an informative list (like this one) or use an interesting statistic for a punchy news headline. Remember when writing for digital, to use the number “7” instead of writing out the word “seven”. Readers on mobile or desktop are scanning headlines, not reading them.

3. Use key words to improve your website’s SEO

Boost your website’s SEO performance by using keywords in your titles. Blogs and articles should only be written to add value to the reader. This means answering their questions and solving their problems. Research what your target audience are searching and tailor your content to these queries. This will help your content be found, be valued and even be shared by other websites (which in turn also boosts your search engine ranking).

4. Keep it short

One of your greatest challenges as a writer is the short attention span of your target audience plus the competition in the online or print channels you are publishing in. The perfect headline is six to seven words. Readers rarely read a headline or word for word, rather they scan and only process limited information.

5. Do your research

Knowing your competitors and how they configure their headlines provides you with the opportunity to make yours stand out from over saturated media channels and do something that gives your headline an edge.

6. Practice writing headlines

Draft multiple headlines and analyse which one would be more relevant to your audience.

We strongly recommend adding CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer  to your digital toolkit which scores your headline based on its likely effectiveness.

The analyser will also show you how to improve your headline to reach a greater audience size; for example, including more emotional or powerful words.

Now go forth and write spectacular headlines! Or let us help you.