It’s been a long time since only a handful of media conglomerates ruled the news world. It’s been a century since boys stood on news corners and hawked the morning paper to passersby. It’s been ages since the only book an average family owned was a Bible.
We don’t get information from one source anymore. Just on a metro commute to work in the morning we’re exposed to news from Twitter and Facebook feeds, Mashable, the Wall Street Journal, and more. One can find out anything just by asking a smart phone (Ok, Google, what year was the printing press invented?) or visiting any one of a million blogs hosted online.
If you’re producing content, information, news, articles, videos, whatever – how can you possibly stand out? Your “news” is just one of many, many headlines an average reader will scroll by – and ignore if you don’t attract their attention.
I believe your headline is the #1 determining factor as to whether someone will decide to click on your story. Altering and editing a title for your article is one of the easiest fixes – and one of the most valuable changes you can make to ensure your story’s success.
Rules for Creating Headlines in the 21st Century
- Don’t give everything away. Summarizing the entire article in your headline leaves nothing to the imagination and leaves the reader without a reason to click through to the full article.
- Don’t use click-bait. Sure, click-bait is a reason why BuzzFeed and Upworthy grew so fast, but click-bait often results in a high bounce rates and can create distrust in readers.
- Optimize it for social media. A longer headline might be a better representation of your article – but what happens when it’s truncated by Twitter’s 140 character limit? Search engines also often limit title tags to as little as 55 characters in search results, so if the best part of your title is the second half – you could lose it.
Don’t forget to take SEO and reader usability into account when creating your title tags. But if you’ve got the basics down, how can you grab attention in a new and creative way? It’s tough – but try some of these ideas and brainstorm some new title tags.