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The key to effective online writing is to have your readers click a link and read your story, blog post, etc. Headlines are the tools that writers use to make that happen. Here are some of our best tips for writing great headlines.

  1. Keep it relevant – Your headline should tell your reader exactly what to expect from your article. If your article is about bobsledding, then your headline should make it clear that’s what the article is about. Readers don’t want to click a link and find out your article is about something else.
  2. Make a promise and follow through – Every good headline makes a promise. “100 of the best restaurants in Chinatown” is pretty specific. The reader knows what the article is about and expects to be told what the best restaurants in Chinatown are. It has a promise. The hard part is delivering on the promise, but it’s also the important part.
  3. Show how easy it is – Some headlines do this better than others, but if the reader thinks it is easy to get the benefit of reading your story, then they’ll read it. “3 ways to jump a rope,” “1 simple tweak …”, and “5 ideas to spark …” all tell the reader that the answer to their question is just one click away. It’s really easy.
  4. Don’t try to be clever – You may think it’s cute to play with words and offer a double entendre. Some of your readers will too. Others will be turned off by it. But the real reason you want to leave the clever out of your headlines is because it doesn’t sell the story. A reader might laugh at your clever headline, but she likely won’t read the story.

Follow these tips to successful headlines and you’ll watch your readership grow.

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