Last weekend, I had that moment we all have when standing at a supermarket queue. My bored eye was meandering over the rack in front of me and it was caught by the headlines of several magazines. They sort of just jumped out at me. Even without caring whatever drama a certain celebrity couple is going through, I found myself reading the headlines and even reading their subtitles.

This got me thinking about how valuable good headlines are. A good headline can make a real difference to the level of attention your site gets. Headlines should really play a big part in the life of anyone who operates a website, particularly anyone who relies on revenue from PPC advertising. For your site to have a real chance of success, you need to learn how to write best-selling headlines for your online press releases, SEO articles, and all your internet marketing efforts.

The secret key to super-selling headlines: pay attention to magazines

My experience on my trip to the supermarket is something everyone has now and again. This experience can teach us all how to write the kinds of headlines that sell.

First of all, I have to say that I rarely buy these kinds of magazines, but I can’t ignore how effective they are. Anyone who’s honest will admit that their front pages are catchy. That’s exactly the kind of catchy you need to be able to achieve to make your pages stand out on the net.

What is it about these kinds of headlines that provide a good lesson for internet content? There are a few elements of magazine headlines we can all learn from:

  1. They’re snappy. Magazine headlines don’t use long, technical words or convoluted sentences. They get to the point, and they do so using short words.
  2. They contain best-selling words. Some words catch the eye better than others. Magazines often use words like ‘secret’, ‘miracle’ and ‘scandal.’ For your business site, you might not necessarily want to use the same range of words, but some of them will help. Internet marketing studies have shown that including the word ‘secret’ in your headline increases click-through rates considerably.
  3. Numbers. Magazines will frequently use numbers to catch attention, and they’re especially effective on the net.

I was tempted to write that magazine headlines are also short. When you’re composing titles for your internet marketing material, keeping things concise is always a good idea. Internet marketing gurus all recommend that titles are around 80 characters, or four or five words. Magazine headlines, however, are not always short. Often they’re up to 15 words long. The difference is that magazine headlines usually feature a main sensational prompt, with an explanatory finish. On the net, your sub-title or meta description can serve this purpose.

Top titles for everyone

Good headlines are necessary for all kinds of reasons. All too often, our material on the net is represented by a lonely little headline. You don’t often get the chance to submit a full description with your article marketing, and the headline is the most eye-catching point of PPC ads. It’s important to make full use of them – and the two short lines that follow.

Whether you’re composing a headline for your PPC ad, crafting an interesting title for your online press release, or getting material together for your article marketing campaign or your latest blog, paying attention to the work of other headline writers can be a great way to learn so next time you’re in the supermarket and find your eyes drawn to those celebrity magazines, take a closer look at the headlines.

Further reading

The AdWeek Copywriting HandbookI bought this book when I first started trying to write both online copy and marketing ads – it’s an invaluable handbook from the legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman. Full of practical and easy to use advice; it teaches you copywriting rules rather than a load of theory you’ll never be able to apply to your own writing.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters

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