SEO-Friendly Title Stylesheet

  • Posted on: 14 November 2014
  • By: davis

Titles are the first thing your reader sees. If you're in the email marketing business, your title will be the first point of failure for a campaign - a bad title doesn't get clicked. It doesn't matter how good your content is if a user is not compelled to click your links!

So how do we write good titles?

You've probably noticed a trend emerging from successful content farms (Buzzfeed, upworthy, etc.). You may hate it, like it, or think it's one of the greatest devaluation of powerful adjectives ever. Either way, internet marketing requires intensity, promise of excitement, and attention-grabbing hooks.

6 Amazing Headline Writing Tips -- #3 Made Me GASP!

  • Try not to give away the entire story with the headline.
    • If the story is about a bill passing, don't lead with "Bill #XXXX passes." Try "This Controversial Law Is Sure To Infuriate Liberals." What controversy? Well, that's for the reader to find out... by clicking the link.
  • Use headlines that make users think "What!? How can that be true?"
    • Ex: "Six Illegal Government Agencies That Really Exist" (write about how the Dept. of Education is unconstitutional or whatever)
  • Write headlines that confirm your demographic's expectations and biases. People subscribed to your content because they have already made up their minds. Reward them!
    • Example for MMP: "Dept. of Homeland Security Releases SHOCKING Report" "Report: 'MILLIONS' of Illegal 'Terrorists' Already In Country"
    • Example for ALP: "15 Severe Obamacare Failures, Ranked"
      • "This One Video Shows The Biggest Problem With Obamacare"
      • "Everyone In Washington Is Talking About This Hot Issue"
      • "This List Of Obama's Lies Will Infuriate You. #4 is UNBELIEVABLE"
      • "4 Types Of Conservatives - Which Group Are You In?"
    • Example for SAA: "Is Your Nest Egg Protected? 3 Simple Tips To Keep Your Retirement Out Of Government Hands"
  • Use powerful adjectives after a number.
    • 3 Inspiring Conservative Speeches
    • 14 Infuriating Liars In Congress
    • The Top 5 Clumsy Obama Blunders
  • Capitalize Every Word In The Title.
  • Use numbers. People respond extraordinarily well to structured content - our brains desire order in information, so it's best to appeal to simplicity and ease-of-reading.

Sample Headline Formats

  1. Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
  2. 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living
  3. Five Familiar American Patriots
  4. Six Types Of Voters - Which Group Are You In?
  5. How To Vote More Effectively In 5 Easy Steps
  6. Leaked Report Shows 12 Key Failures By Secret Service
  7. 82 Reasons To Vote For Rand Paul
  8. 9 Liberal Lies

You may have noticed that I'm emphasizing numbers and shallow content. The type of content that is best paired with these headlines is called a "listicle." You've seen this format employed at Buzzfeed et. al. Essentially, divide an issue in a certain number of statements, find a tangetially-related picture for each statement (people love pictures!), and bam, you've created a listicle. Look at this article: 46 Questions You Ask When Going Through A Quarter-Life Crisis. That's objectively a pretty awful piece of writing. It is also easy to read, easy to digest, easily relatable, and on the front page of a website with millions of visitors. This is the true power of the listicle - it draws readers to a site for far less effort than a well-researched article.

In 2009, when researchers at the University of Athens examined actual readers’ responses to headlines from English-language newspapers in the U.S. and U.K., ranging from hard news to tabloids, they found that people preferred headlines that were both creative and uninformative, like “THE SMELL OF CORRUPTION, THE SCENT OF TRUTH” or “FACE TO FAITH.” They not only rated them as more interesting over-all but also indicated that they would be more likely to read the corresponding stories. List-style headlines often provide that optimal balance of information and ambivalence, intriguing us just enough to click, on the chance that we’ll come across something particularly relevant or exciting.