Headlines Tips

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Use H2 and H3 Tags for Secondary Keywords

As you probably know, when writing headlines it is always important to use the coveted <h1> tag for your primary keyword or key phrase.

But what about those pesky secondary keywords that help add relevance to your content and a little gumption to your search engine prowess?

While you should only use <h1> tags one time - repeat: ONE TIME!!!! - per page, there are subsequent header tags that you can use for your other important key phrases. And the nice thing is you can use them as many times as needed (please, for the love of Thor do not over do it).

As with the <h1> tag, the code for inserting a sub-header is easy:

<h2>This is my AWESOME key phrase</h2>

And of course you can add style elements, such as color, font size and what-not to make your headlines stand out even more.

How do I write news headlines?


News headlines are the second most successful. A news headline is powerful because everyone listens to news. News is NEW. Examples:

"Breakthrough Treatment for Dandruff"
"New Safety Features for Cars"
"New Therapy Improves Child Behavior"

What headlines should I avoid writing?

Types to Avoid

John Caples outlines these headlines that failed when tested:
"The Trouble with Many Married Men is..." (Life Insurance ad)
"Letters Wives Don't Write to Their Unsuccessful Husbands" (Business Training Course ad)
"I'll never Give Another Party," She Sobbed (Book of Games for Parties ad)

They are all poorly used curiosity headlines. Only experienced copywriters should write and use curiosity headlines. None of the headlines gives any news. None of the headlines contains an offer of a benefit that appeals to the reader's self-interest. They are all negative.

What type of headlines should I avoid writing?

Never Use Your Business Name

It may be a hard one to accept as we all love our business and it's name, but Never use your business name as an advertisement headline. Sure, at times you may see a huge billboard with Coca-Cola, but they spend millions of dollars on their image and advertising. Most times, companies of that size also place a huge emphasis on the benefits of using their product.

In general, most people are not interested in our business name or logo. They want to know what your business can do for them. "Bugs' Restaurant" would be a very poor choice for a headline. "Enjoy Eating Fresh Delicious Seafood at Bugs Restaurant," is a much better choice.

Why? Because the headline offers several benefits: Enjoy, Eating, Seafood and Fresh. "Bugs Restaurant" offers no benefit at all. People, in a hurry, tend to rush through headlines and ignore those without any interest or appeal. Even if Bugs is well- known it needs to offer benefits in its headlines.

How do I write good headlines?


The headline is the most important part of any ad. This doesn't mean you can write lousy copy in the rest of the ad and expect to make money. The headline is the most important part because it either grabs or loses a readers attention.

You may have the best offer in the world and great copy, but if the headline is no good then no one will have any reason to read further. Work hard at learning to write "attention grabbing" headlines.

What type of headline should I use?


I strongly suggest that you stick with writing Self-interest headlines. They are the most effective, so use them. News and curiosity headlines are good but should only be attempted by experienced copywriters and carefully tested. A curiosity headline can be a winner but the down side is that it doesn't actually offer a benefit. Very good body copy needs to accompany a curiosity headline.

How do I use a headline to arouse reader curiosity?


Curosity headlines are the third best option. They work because a readers curiosity is aroused so they are compelled to read further. Examples:

"Is Your Accountant Trustworthy?"
"Does this Habit Inflict Your Marriage?"
" I bet You Can't Answer This Question?"

How do I identify a good headline?

Self Interest

Copywriters who have tested ad campaigns for many years have noticed that three categories of headlines get the most results. Firstly:

Self-Interest headlines are the most effective. These types of headlines focus on benefits that interest the readers. Everyone is interested in things that make life easier or appeal to their desires. Examples:

"Make an Extra $2000 a Month"
"Discover the Secrets of Successful Investors"
"Increase Cash Flow Into Your Business"
"How to Attract New Customers"


Direct Headlines - 40% Off

Want to get to the heart of the situation from the get-go? Use direct headlines. A time-tested technique, direct headlines let the reader know exactly what you are going to tell them (or sell them) without trying to be clever.

Direct headlines work great when your offer is great in and of itself. Here are a couple of examples:

  • New iPhone Apps - Starting at $2.99

  • Free Copywriting E-Book

Both of these headlines tell the reader exactly what your offering in the body of the copy and are still enticing enough for them to want to read on.


Use Headlines Throughout Your Web Copy

So, your main headline has enticed readers to the website where your writing is housed.


Now you have to keep the readers attention.

The truth is that most readers are not actually readers at all. They are scanners. This means that you will need to attach headlines to the main sections of your copywriting so the reader (or scanner) can see what your copy has to offer. This is especially useful when the content you have written does not need to be read as a whole and each section is useful on its own merits.


State the Benefits

When writing copy it is easy to lose focus and forget why we are writing in the first place. Our job is to answer the readers question, which is usually "What's in it for me?".

So...let them know that you have it.

Headlines are how we draw our readers in. They are right there at the top in big, bold print exclaiming to the potential reader: "This is what you are looking for. All you have to do is read a little more." Your headline, while not directly answering the question, needs to let them know that you are the Gatekeeper to their Keymaster and the treasure they have been looking for is right inside.

Some proven headline techniques include:

  • Use Numbered Lists. "5 Ways to Remove Mold Safely" or "6 Things Your Doctor Won't Tell You"

  • Ask the reader a question. "How many Licks Does it Really Take?" for a Tootsie Pops article. (Be sure you answer that question.)

  • Make a statement. "Guaranteed Mold Removal Techniques"

  • "How-To" statements. "How to Make Delicious Pizza at Home"

  • "Power" words. Words like "better", "more" and "improved" are proven methods for enticing potential readers.


Create Curiosity

You could write the most important copy in the last 20 years...copy that will change the world. Unfortunately, if your headline sucks no one will ever know.One of the best ways to entice readers to your writing is to create curiosity. Use a headline that makes the reader want, nay, need to see what is happening in the body of your text. Truth is, curiosity may have killed the cat, but the cat died completely fulfilled.


Do Not Steer Clear of Negative Headlines

Most of the time people in the marketing world will tell you to steer clear of negative headlines for your marketing pages. Tuth be told, negativity could be one of the best weapons in your writing arsenal. This is not true all the time, of course, but which of these headlines would you find more appealing?

  1. 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Health Insurance

  2. 5 Things Your Health Insurance company Doesn't Want You To Know

I know I'm not alone in saying that I would love to find out why my insurance company has been screwing me for the past 13 years. Just make sure when you use a negative headline for your article that the content delivers the goods or you will end up with some very unhappy readers.

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Guru Spotlight
Jeffery Loquist