The characteristics of effective, eye-catching headlines

The characteristics of effective, eye-catching headlines

June 29, 2021 By Dana Sitar Resources

An article’s headline has an important job: get someone to read the story.

It places that huge responsibility on about 60 to 70 characters. You have to get creative to make sure every word, letter, space, and punctuation mark in your headline is totally necessary and carries its fair weight.

What makes a good headline depends largely on the context where a reader sees it—on social media, on Google, in their inbox, or on a website.

To write a headline that gets the click, you’ll need more than one, because readers on different platforms are looking for different things.

Four headlines each article needs

To make the most of every promotional platform, write a headline tailored to each, including these major platforms:

Tools to publish multiple headlines

Your publishing tool (usually a content management system or CMS) lets you publish a headline that’ll show up at the top of an article page. Usually the same headline is displayed where the article appears on your website (like in a “latest news” section on the home page).

To get platform-specific headlines to show up when links to your article appear outside of your site, you’ll need to take advantage of some additional tools.

Depending on what your CMS allows, try these options to publish a tailored headline to other platforms where you’ll promote the article:

Five characteristics of a great headline

Each platform has its own audience, context, and purpose you need to appeal to with tailored headlines. But some basic characteristics of good headlines apply across platforms.

Regardless of where your headline appears, it should:

Want to learn more about writing effective, clickable headlines? Check out my webcast in the ACES Academy, Headlines That Work: How to Capture Readers’ Attention on Any Platform.

Header photo by Ian Dooley on Unsplash.

Recent Posts

Interview with an editor: Dr. Charita Ray-Blakely

Mind (be careful with) your idioms

Interview with an editor: Kristy Gilbert