Having a struggle coming up with good headlines for your articles and stories? Here’s a strategic approach that might be able to help.
First, list down five keywords that represent the article. These are keywords that are descriptive of your main topic and the overall direction of your piece. It helps to think of these as the keywords people will use when searching for a story such as yours in Google.
Proper nouns (e.g. iPhone, Nicki Minaj) should be your first choice, followed by other words related to the material. Avoid abbreviations as much as possible. The more descriptive the keywords, the more effective they will be.
Write a Draft Headline
Using the five keywords you came up with, write your headline such that it conveys the information you want. Don’t worry too much about concision here — just focus on being informative and straight to the point.
Once that’s done, you can begin refining your headline to make it as brief, informative and impactful as possible. Things you can do include:
- Choosing more specific words. If any of the words in your headline can be detailed down to be more precise, do it.
- Rearrange. Put your most important keywords (usually the proper nouns) at the start of the headline. That way, they’re the first things people see.
- Use good verbs. You have very limited space in a headline, so every word counts. As such, your verbs should be active, descriptive and precise.
- Trim down. Shorten your headlines to as brief as possible. Try to eliminate non-major words (e.g. of, the, an) whenever you can. As long as the title still makes sense, it’s usually acceptable.