For anyone wanting a quick overview of received wisdom about writing effective headlines for sales copy, the post with a suitably arresting heading on Copyblogger, 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas that Work, is a ‘must read’ and ‘must bookmark’. The list is excellent, from “Who Else Wants to [blank]?” to “What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]”.
I have to admit I’m a late and previously reluctant convert to the idea of deliberately writing a headline like the one for this post, or “Here’s a Quick Way to [solve some problem]”, but I’ve come to realise that these ‘field tested’ types of headlines have been proven to work. So I figure that if I want to be read and want to sell products and services – tick all these boxes – I need to be more open to what grabs attention. Plenty of scope to get creative in the body copy.
And even within the ‘formulas’ there is room to be somewhat creative, as the article cited and the comments attached thereto illustrate.
In the blogging context, the Copyblogger post has prompted a recollection of reading somewhere that your post title is the most important item to get right if you want your blog post to feature well in the search engines. In fact, my habit has been to fill in the post title box before I start on the post or article proper, but lately I’ve been thinking I should at least go back and consider whether it still looks like the most suitable heading, before posting. After all, I don’t usually write these posts with a grand plan, so until I’ve finished I really don’t know whether the heading I start with is going to be the most appropriate.
One thing I know is not necessarily very smart, especially in the business blogging context, is to have tricky headlines which are going to seem funny to about three people at most and will probably not age well. But sometimes I feel like having some fun with my posts and their titles, such as for the topic I wrote about yesterday on my new Start Blogging Today blog. It’s about the current faux furore in New Zealand over the discovery that a prisoner has a blog which is fairly free-ranging in its commentary and not lacking in vituperation.
Because a politician on the conservative side of politics was kicking up the fuss, I gave the post the tongue-in-cheek title Porridge Blog: Kiwi Pollie Shocked. Yes, I know ‘porridge’ as slang for prison might not be a familiar term for North American or European or Asian etc readers, and ‘pollie’ as a less than totally respectful term for politicians is Australian currency and might not even travel across the Tasman, let alone the Pacific. But hey! it’s my blog and I feel it’s ok to indulge myself now and again. Or am I missing some advanced theory of blog post titles or blogiquette here?