A Headline Act That’s Easy to Follow

by Alex on March 26, 2011

drafting a good post title so its easy to follow

I’ve said it before (Link to 7 Reasons Why Your Article Titles Suck ) and I’ll say it again. The Title of your blogpost is the make or break of the whole enchilada, and no amount of optimised sentences, brilliant images or social sharing buttons is going to help you when you can’t get them to click over in the first place.

Now that we live in an age of CommentLuv plugins – where social interaction is the norm, and incredibly rich blogging communities like Blokube and Blogengage rule the social roost, having an engaging title is key.

Write for the Search Engines or Write for the People?

The key to finding your unique voice is to simply start writingThat point is mute because now that social media is taking over: The People ARE the Search Engine.

Write an optimized post and sure, the bots will crawl and you shall be indexed. Then what?

Now Write a title that makes the people laugh, smile, inquire, basically REACT and you get traffic, and they share – which brings more traffic, and then the bots want to know what’s going on, so they crawl and you are indexed. but this time you have a whole lot of backlinks already. (Which is irrelevant because you also already have the traffic ;) )

What’s this got to do with anything?

I’ve always had a love for the written word, and even more so for how easily it can be toyed with, chopped and changed to create entirely new meanings that can be translated in many ways. Ways that sometimes ruffle a few feathers even.

I remember posting about how powerful the simple act of ‘Asking’ was – well that was the point of the article anyway, and the post was titled ‘Want a Better Blog? Then Get Your Ask Out There

I reckon that’s a great title, but it seems that I was being sexist.  Sexist? I don’t think so.
Clever play on words referencing the fact that in order to ask the question you need to get your ass out there in the first place. Definitely.

I could go on about all the different headings I have used (no really, I could : ) ) but that would just be irritating, so let’s get to the point.

I need your help. That’s what this is all about. There I said it :) But let me share with you why…

My Fiverr Gig!

I decided to jump on the Fiverr bandwagon and offer something. I looked at what was already available and realised that well, everything was. You could get a lot of things for $5 ranging from the insanely stupid to some very nice deals on link building – but incredibly, the service that I wanted to offer was not there at all.

This means one of two things; That I am B:) Onto a really good thing, or B:) Insanely Stupid (It is entirely feasible that I am both)

This is my offer in all it’s screenshot glory, Please click on the image to visit the gig and share like you have never shared before!

get your post titles written by a crazy Aussie dude for $5.

 

On a side note, when I drafted this announcement/post I could not at first come up with a decent title. THAT, I thought would have been ironic ;)

I then came up with a couple actually, and just to give you a little insight into what could have been – I thought that the word Fiverr sounded awfully similar to Favor and so I drafted ‘Can you do me a HUGE Fiverr?’

That’s it for the self obsessed part of the post, and for those who are reading and (I hope) supporting my gig, I think it is only fair that I give something back to you, so if you feel like hanging around – here are a few little tips and tricks that I personally employ to help me come up with clever titles.

Freudian Typo.

For those who do not know, Sigmund Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the mechanism of repression. Basically he invented psychoanalysis. (Waste of time)

From this the term ‘a Freudian Slip‘ came about, and this is when you say something unintentionally because you were subconsciously thinking about it, For example:  she asks if he would like — bread and butter, or cake?’ And he replies with  ‘Bed and butter.’ because he was obviously ‘unconsciously’ thinking about sex. (So Freud is famous for coming to the conclusion that men are always thinking about sex? …ummm? OK then.)

Anyway, the point I am leading to is that quite often when you are typing you can make mistakes that are actually quite funny, or infer something different, and when this is the case I call it the Freudian Typo.

Before you hit the backspace key and fix your error look at what you have written. You could have some Headline Gold right there!

The secret to writing a good headline is to play with the wordsPlaying on Words.

It’s all about phonetics baby!

Phonetics is the study of the sound language makes.  It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds rather than the meanings behind them per say, and it is this side of the human language that is the key to a winning headline.

Words have so many meanings when you simply look at the sound they are making, and then of course there is the fact that words can be said in a hundred different ways, depending on the dialect and accent. Rap musicians use this ‘poetic license’ all the time to make their lines rhyme for example. A few of them anyway.

Take the sounds these words make and use them in a different context whilst keeping the meaning in tact and you have the recipe for a winning headline

Let’s Conjur up an idea and watch it turn into a Title

Let’s take a topic that I am familiar with and write about often. Let’s also pick a theme I can use – because if this title turns out nice, then I’m gonna want to use it ;)

I am Australian, so therefore I pronounce the word niche as neesh. Fair enough then, but my American friends it seem pronounce it nitch. This got me thinking about ways I could use it in a title.
Of course it has to match the content of the article itself – which in this case is going to talk about how I can help people with their niche sites and the related SEO.  So where do I go with this?
At the moment I can think of nothing, so it’s time to employ the help of another trick to help me write my winning title.

Expressions, Quips, Sayings, Myths, Quotes, and Common Phrases.

You all know them, you all use them, and to an extent you know what they mean. But do you use them in your titles?

Expressions are memorable because they nearly always have a strong message or meaning behind them, and if you can twist or change the words to suit your title but KEEP the message behind it intact then people are going to react.  So what am I thinking?

Niche (I still say neesh in my head when I write it) is pronounced nitch by the vast majority of my readers, and NITCH rhymes with ITCH!

That was literally what I was thinking, because the expression that popped into my head at that time was ‘Got an Itch? Scratch it.’ an expression which you no doubt have heard and are well aware of what it means. Perfect.

So the  title pretty much wrote itself from that point forward…Got a Niche? We'll scratch it. And the monkey's got your back too!

Got a Niche? I’ll Scratch it is the name of an upcoming post that I will be putting together when I officially launch my ‘Hire Me‘ page :) and I think that title will be a good one to travel around the commentluv enabled blogopshere and bait others with :)

Of course this post’s title also utilised a well known saying aswell, that being  ‘A Hard Act to Follow’

Need Material?

Here’s a great site I found that lists a whole heap of common expressions and sayings. Get some inspiration here: Sayings Index

And because it honestly deserves it’s own index – here’s a list of Australian Slang expressions that you can laugh at get inspiration from also – it’s fair dinkum too mate!

Summary

I talked about the importance of meeting a need or promising to solve a problem with your Headline in the post 7 Reasons Why Your Article Titles Suck – but if you can also tie in some clever play on words AND integrate a well known expression or quote then – well, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

The trick with a good headline is to get the reader to react, plain and simple. A reaction of any kind will usually invoke a response, in this case a click through to read more – but regardless you just want them to react.

It’s Just Physics

newtons third law guarantees that people will click through to your article

In a race to 'Continue Reading' ...

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction! That’s just science (well it’s Newtons 3rd law to be precise) so unless you’re a Devout Nutjob Catholic you are not going to refute it.
Write good content, but cap it off with a title that appeals to the human brain* and people will react. Newton himself guarantees it ;)
*The Human Brain has NO IDEA what a keyword is, just for the record

Your Turn.

What do you think of my Gig?
How do you rate titles that appeal to your brain rather than the ‘solve a problem’ side of logic?
If a title makes you smile or laugh do you click through at all? Or do you just get your kicks there and then and move on?

 

 

{ 27 comments }

Christie March 26, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Tweeted the gig. I love that idea, because there are some blogs (like this one) that have absolutely irresistible titles that I just have to click..so titles make all the difference.

Hey maybe someday you could have an a la carte list of things we could hire you to help us with (on this site – much more than $5 obviously) for those of us who can’t necessarily afford to hire you for hours+ of consulting but sure could use some help thinking how to monetize a given site we already have or what niche to try, given a short list of our interests and talents, or that sort of thing.

Alex March 26, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Thanks Christie! For the tweet and the compliment I mean :)

Your idea is exactly what I had in mind, stay tuned for the hire me page – along with an entirely new theme and redesign!

Brandon@Local SEO for Lawyers March 26, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Nice to see you finally jumping in Fiverr. Man, a bunch of morons got on my case about Fiverr. They commented on my ProBlogger article. They called using Fiverr “unethical”. Good. More leverage for me, and they can go the tough route and become quitters ;)

Alex March 26, 2011 at 6:39 PM

How is using Fiverr Unethical>?!? Freaks.

I love fiverr as a client, so why not try it from the other side hey?
Thanks mate.

Brandon@Local SEO for Lawyers March 27, 2011 at 12:43 AM

That’s what I said man. The whole idea is stupid. Nothing wrong with outsourcing some things that are tedious. My post was about leverage, and it focused on Fiverr.

Jeffrey Morgan March 26, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Come on Alex ……… I can’t put the whole post inside the “Blogging Quotes To Live By” section over here at Bloggers Market. Jeezzz! Some guys!

Robert Dempsey March 27, 2011 at 1:27 AM

Good headlines are an absolute necessity – they are the first impression a post makes, and will cause someone to become a reader, or turn away in horror.

I like your Fiverr title and the fact that you’re using Fiverr. I got an additional $1k of work so far from offering $5 gigs there, and have more proposals out there. Great place for lead generation. I mean, why pay for leads when they can pay you to become your lead?!

Happy I’ve been using it and I encourage others to do the same.

Now back to writing some catchy headlines. Gotta keep up with you sir.

Lonnie @ My Income Lab March 27, 2011 at 6:27 AM

Alternative title to your new hire me page: Make Me Your Niche! (although that could offend a certain portion of your audience)

But seriously, good luck on your new Fiverr give (I gave it a tweet) – good to see good people on there.

Alex March 28, 2011 at 7:05 PM

HAHAHAHA I LIKE IT!! “introducing my sidekick…” ;)

Thanks Lonnie, I’m still laughing at that one :)

Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur March 27, 2011 at 4:02 PM

You’re hired!!

Ahh … after all these years online, I finally bump into a kindred spirit who has a genuine love of language arts. Time for celebration, jubilation, and word reincarnation! Oh, I should also note my love of alliteration. :)

FB’d, Liked, and Tweeted your new gig, Re-Tweeted this post, subscribed to future posts, called a press conference (okay, I didn’t go THAT far), and can’t wait to tell my good blogging buddy, Sheila Atwood, about you. Or maybe you’ve already met?

You have exceptional and extraordinary talent, Alex, and I’ve totally enjoyed my first visit to your blog. Love your style!

Sheila Atwood March 28, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Hooly-dooly! You two met.

….Here are two people that can give you the drum on Headlines. :)

Alex,

Glad you reminded me of the the Fiverr Gigs. Some else had mentioned using Fiverr as a way to get business and I had forgotten it. Now it is on my list as part of my new biz marketing plan.

Alex March 28, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Hey Sheila, I love it when the dots join nicely, and seeing you mentioned was awesome. Thanks for the support with my fiverr gig, now let’s see who bites. Looking forward to your blog contest too btw! :)

Alex March 28, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Wow Melanie, how to make an irresistibly eloquent entrance! ;)

I do know Sheila lol! And she has emailed me about a comp. She is having, but from the way you write I am thinking maybe you got the same email. :)

Thanks so much Melanie, not just for all the sharing and potential press conference, but for simply being you!!

Respect.

Melanie Kissell @SoloMompreneur March 28, 2011 at 9:00 PM

The pleasure was all mine, Alex, and I hope our paths cross again and again. Have a magical and meaningful week!

Patricia@lavender oil March 29, 2011 at 1:51 AM

Hi Alex

You’re still king of the quotes and headlines that’s for sure. To come up with one for me and my lovely lavenders….thought that would be a challenge ;-)

Didn’t disappoint and I’ll let you know how the traffic goes once it’s published. Waiting to see what other gigs you’re going to be offering too.

Now you definitely won’t have time to sleep LOL Some great tips here Alex, that obviously work for you. Will be trying some out in future posts.

Patricia Perth Australia

Alex March 29, 2011 at 4:17 AM

Well, Alex (I am romanian and I pronounce the word niche like neesh) I think you should also consider other people, which are not English and don’t know it well enough to understand this catch phrases, when you think of smart titles. Also, many people may think in their language when they read english words and your uber clever title might not make any sense for them.

What titles make me CT, I would say you nailed this one, clever titles do make me clickthrough, also funny and bombastic title (like How to become number one in 2 weeks) entice me to click them.

Now, I am curios will you charge more for those that contact you via your “Hire me” page then you charge on fiverr (5$).

Well, good luck with both of them (fiverr and hire page) and I hope I will get soo many jobs that you won’t be able to sleep because of your workload :D

Keith Dennis March 30, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Hi Alex,

Thanks for all of the great information. I have been experimenting with keyword titles versus catchy titles for a while now and catchy titles always when for me in the search rankings and for click throughs. I think it is because getting to the top of the rankings is just the first step. Getting people to click your site is a whole new topic all together. I am also finding that people will not retweet out boring titles. I won’t either!

Thanks again!

nazimwarriach March 30, 2011 at 11:56 PM

Hi Alex,
The post is little bit lengthy but have tons of very useful information.
Headlines should be attractive and must be relevant to the content.

Alex March 31, 2011 at 12:47 PM

but the headline got you here in the first place ;)

Thanks for your comment Nazim

Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech April 4, 2011 at 12:24 AM

Thank you, Alex, for your great post and the handy reminder that titles matter to a blog as much as a storefront matters to a store. I work so hard on crafting my blog posts, but shortchange myself with my titles.

Great work for Patricia on Lavender Uses!

Alex April 4, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Hey Carolyn.

I like the way you phrase that – ‘a storefront’ because it is so true.
And thanks for the feedback on Patricia’s post – I appreciate you taking the time to comment and share :)

Keith Davis April 4, 2011 at 12:37 AM

Hi Alex

“Write for the Search Engines or Write for the People?”

I do both – let me explain.
When I first publish a post I use a catchy title.
Catchy title gets attention and brings in comments.

When the comments start to dry up, I change the post title to a keyword rich title and leave it for the engines to find.

Works for me, why not give it a try.

Alex April 4, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Hey Keith,

Great to see you here my friend – and thanks for sharing your little trick for keeping everyone happy :)
I assume you automatically do a 301 redirect when you make this change? or do you only change the physical title and not the URL title?
I personally do something similar in that I just create a keyword rich URL with the permalink and then create a catchy title for commentluv and the like.

Thanks for sharing your ideas, and you know what – I think I just might give that a go anyway. Can’t hurt right.

Keith Davis April 5, 2011 at 6:24 AM

Hi Alex
I only change the title, which is the h1 tag on my theme.
I never change the URL.

Alex April 5, 2011 at 10:36 PM

ah – very nice.

Thanks for getting back to me Keith!

Keith Davis April 6, 2011 at 2:51 AM

Hi Alex
Just looking at your headline “A Headline Act That’s Easy to Follow” using “Firebug”, it’s an h1 tag same as mine.

Just change that and no need for 301 redirects or anything.

marc April 7, 2011 at 11:21 PM

I’ve been making making some good money on Fiverr!

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