Create a Headline to Capture Your Readers’ Attention

May 22, 2015

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Want to create a headline that will capture the attention of your target Internet audience? It’s not easy these days. With a glut of articles out on the Internet, each with a headline that promises to make life better for its readers, how can you compete?

You can indeed compete. You, too, can create a headline that will reach your desired audience. You cannot, however, do so by trying to reach everyone. After all, that is one of the main reasons the Internet is so crowded with information in the first place. If you trim your target readers down to a select few to whom your information will resonate, you will be more likely to be able to tailor a headline to their specific needs.

First of all, consider what type of information you have to share. Is it a breaking news story? People who are news junkies don’t want a title that seems like something out of a how-to magazine or a list of top celebrities. “ISIS Bearing Down on Kobani,” for instance, would be more to their taste than, say, “2014’s Top 10 Terrorists.”

Yet if you want to reach an audience on an entertainment site, a top 10 list would be perfectly appropriate. Maybe not “Top 10 Terrorists,” but certainly “Top Ten Teen Idols of 2014” might grab their attention. A title beginning with “How To” may be perfect for an article directory catering to do-it-yourselfers, but strike out with people who want to know where to find a great hamburger in Dallas.

If you want to attract attention with your headline, therefore, first research the audience you want to reach. What is their average age? What are their interests? If your business sells pimple cream to a predominantly female teenage clientele, you will need to create content—and a headline—that will catch their attention. If, on the other hand, you have an online magazine that features news and opinion about foreign policy, you will need to create content and a headline that appeals to that audience.

If you use Google Analytics on your own website, you can determine some of these key demographics about your audience. Armed with that information, you can create a piece of content that will appeal to them.

Secondly, you need to find out on which websites and social media platforms your target audience frequents most. You probably will not find very many teenage females on LinkedIn, for example, nor would you find political junkies on a website that features teen celebrities. Once you have narrowed down your target audience and find out where they spend most of their time on the Internet, you can then look at some of the headlines on articles that have received a lot of social media shares and comments. These are headlines which have caught the attention of your audience. Study them carefully.

One word of caution, though. Don’t promise more than you can deliver. Your target audience is smarter than you might give them credit for. They can spot bogus claims—and will click away. For example, if you have a fitness salon, don’t create a headline that says “The Workout That Will Make You Look Like Mr. Universe in 30 Days.” Instead, create a headline that promises realistic, measurable goals, such as “Swim Your Way to Better Cardiac Health.”

Once you have created your content and have studied effective yet realistic headlines for that type of content, experiment a little bit. Try each of your headlines out with the same content on various types of media to see how effective they are. Those that capture the attention of the readers you target can serve as models for future use. As you publish more and more content, creating effective headlines will come more easily to you as you apply these tips to reach your own target audience.

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