How to Write Better Headlines

We all know that the majority of the copy we write for the web goes unread and unappreciated. To some extent that’s our own fault – it’s bad, boring or it’s in the wrong place. People read quickly, and most know right away if they are interested – so what can you do to make your copy more interesting?
Enter the headline.

I have collected some thoughts from a few articles I just read that should shed some light on the importance of a good headline.

CopyBlogger.com quotes an approach from American Writers & Artist, re-quote below, which is dubbed the 4 U’s approach to writing headlines:

1. Be USEFUL to the reader,
2. Provide him with a sense of URGENCY,
3. Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE; and
4. Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.

These approaches map rather closely to the Four Great Laws of Copywriting, from the American Writers & Artists Golden Thread publication:

1. Reach and influence, at the lowest logical cost, the most people who can and will respond.
2. In this Age of Skepticism, cleverness for the sake of cleverness may well be a liability rather than an asset.
3. E2 = 0 (When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.)
4. Tell the reader/viewer/listener what to do.

In short, your headlines need to tell the reader why they should continue reading, and this can be done with a number of techniques. If you can’t convey interest, you may want to reconsider writing anything at all.

Sources:
http://www.awaionline.com/2008/07/four-great-laws/
http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-headlines-that-get-results/
http://www.copyblogger.com/how-to-write-headlines-that-work
http://www.awaionline.com/2001/06/a-review-of-the-4-us/
http://www.copyblogger.com/the-long-and-short-of-copywriting