People are much more likely to scan rather than read content today. It’s estimated that visitors read only about 20% of the textual content on a website.
What makes you stop and read something instead of just moving on?
As I said in a previous post, often the headline entices us to read the article. By paying attention to headlines that grab your attention, you improve your ability to write such headlines yourself, increasing the chance your content will be read.
Here are some techniques and examples.
A Play on Words
One way to generate interest is to use common phrases in an unusual way. For example:
“Royal Pain,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, January 11, 2016
A discussion of the setback in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“The Life of the Party,” The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2016
A review of how the Trump campaign has overturned the old rules of the political game.
“Anchors Away: Malls Losing Big Stores,” The Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2016
“Trouble Afoot?” San Jose Mercury News, April 22, 2016
A discussion of the loss the Golden State Warriors incurred after star Stephen Curry was sidelined with a knee injury.
“Pedal to Metal: Driverless Cars,” San Jose Mercury News, April 26, 2016
It’s also beneficial to use words or phrases associated with particular industries or businesses to grab attention. Here are some examples:
“Wal-Mart is Feeling Boxed In,” The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2016
“Monarch’s Big Comeback Has Mexico’s Experts All Aflutter,” San Jose Mercury News, February 27, 2016
A report that the Monarch butterfly has made a big comeback in its wintering grounds in Mexico, after suffering serious declines in previous years.
“Final Bow for Ballet Troupe,” San Jose Mercury News, March 9, 2015
A report on the demise of the Silicon Valley Ballet dance troupe.
“Housing Market Takes on Split Levels,” The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2016
A report that lower-priced homes are selling quickly while the inventory on the higher end piles up.
“Crab Season Finally Comes Out of Its Shell,” San Jose Mercury News, April 2, 2016
“Hershey Gets Sweet on Dried Meat Bars,” The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2016
A Rhyme or Alliteration
If possible, use rhyme or alliteration to grab attention. For example:
“Concussion Repercussions,” San Jose Mercury News, January 31, 2016
“Shoes Fuel a Family Feud,” The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2016
What about you? What headlines get your attention? And why?
Susan Monroe says
This is such an excellent post, Kay. I have bookmarked it and put it in my “Writer’s Tools” folder as a hugely valuable resources.