The bible for writing great post titles is the CopyBlogger How to Write Magnetic Headlines series by Brian Clark. It won’t magically make you a better headline writer, but it will give you a better understanding of how and why headlines work.
We can’t better that series, but what we can do is link to each article in the series, and then put it in a football blogging context. Click each link below to read the relevant CopyBlogger article (all of which are short enough to be easy reading) and then come back here and read the text beneath the link to see how that can be applied to writing headlines for your articles on Soccerlens.
If you take the time to read through this and make an effort to understand how and why certain headlines work, then you’ll be a better headline writer by the time you finish reading.
- Why You Should Always Write Your Headline First
Your headline is a promise to readers. Its job is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time.
You can always edit the headline later, but starting with a strong and clear post title means you’re starting out with a strong and clear idea of what you’re going to write. A headline like Is Newcastle Striker Andy Carroll Really England Material? defines exactly what subject that article will cover.
- The Cheater’s Guide to Writing Great Headlines
It’s not really cheating, but Clark advises that you keep a “swipe file” of successful headlines. Not so you can steal the headlines, but so that you can see the structures of successful headlines. The eleven headlines in Clark’s series are a good place to start. If you want to know about writing headlines, then how can you not click The Cheater’s Guide to Writing Great Headlines? A good football blogging specific exercise is to scan the football headlines on NewsNow, think about which headlines make you want to read more, and add the ones that do to your swipe file.
- Do Keywords in Post Titles Really Matter?
The answer is yes. Keywords are the words in the headline that define your article, but also the words that you know people will be searching for. So on a very basic level, if your article is about Arsenal then you might want to include the keyword “Arsenal” in your headline so people searching for that term can find your article. However, the clever part is that there already over 259 million search results for “Arsenal”, so you need to use a tool like Google Insights to find keywords that are popular enough, but not so popular that your post will be lost amongst all the others. Above all, the important thing is that the keywords are specific to your article.
- How to Write a Killer “How To” Article That Gets Attention
“How To” headlines are based on promising something to the reader. It’s saying if you click on this, you’ll learn the secret or trick of doing this. So in football terms, something like “How to Bend it Like Beckham” might be a good headline for an article focused on David Beckham’s free kicks.
- Seven Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work
A list headline will accurately describe the content of the post in a way that can’t help but grab attention. Imagine a Liverpool fan seeing a post title like “Ten Greatest Players in Liverpool History”. They’ll have to click on that just to see who the 10 players and whether or not they agree.
- Why Some People Almost Always Write Great Post Titles
Using the above title itself as an example, it’s all about structure:
a) Starting off your post title with “why” at the beginning of a declarative statement (instead of a question) is one easy way to focus in on the benefit of reading your article.
b) Credibility. The use of the word “some”and having “almost” modify “always”make the headline much more plausible.
So a good football example of this type of headline would be: Why Fernando Torres is Possibly the Best Striker in the World
- 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
These are variations on “Top 10” and “How to” headlines. Read the list and think about why they work. Not every example necessarily applies to soccer blogging, but something like “Who Else Wants to Watch Football Online” or “The Secret to Watching Football Online” could definitely work.
- 9 Proven Headline Formulas That Sell Like Crazy
Each of the formulas is aimed more at advertising copy than football blogging. But since a headline is basically you selling/advertising your article, the formulas still apply to football blogging. Click the link and read the full post for an explanation of each of these formulas, because it’s important to know why these formulas work, but then come back here to see the formula used in a football article headline example.
1. Say it simply and directly. “Best Goal Ever!”
2. State the big benefit. “You’ll Love This Goal from Andre Iniesta”
3. Announce exciting news. “Arsenal Finally Sign Big Name Goalkeeper!”
4. Appeal to the “how-to” instinct. “How to Find Football Highlights”
5. Pose a provocative question. “Have You Ever Seen a Tackle This Bad?”
6. Bark a command. “See This Goal, Be Amazed”
7. Offer useful information. “The 10 Best Ways to Watch a Football Match”
8. Relay an honest, enthusiastic testimonial. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goal this good…”
9. Authenticate your proposition with a little something extra. “Sunday League Player Scores Best Goal Ever”
Back to the Soccerlens Writers Guide.