7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work

image of magnetic headlines

It’s a blogosphere favorite for good reason — “list” content works, in large part due to the attention-grabbing power of the headline.

What may be news to some bloggers is that the effectiveness of this type of headline and content is as old as the advertising hills. So you shouldn’t worry about it dying out anytime soon.

Any headline that lists a number of reasons, secrets, types, or ways will work because, once again, it makes a very specific promise of what’s in store for the reader. A nice quantifiable return on attention invested goes a long way toward prompting action, and as long as you deliver with quality content, you’ll have a satisfied reader.

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How to Write a Killer “How To” Article That Gets Attention

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Picture your blog post being retweeted thousands of times on Twitter, and shared all over Facebook. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be in a better position to make that scenario a reality.

It’s no secret that “how to” articles and blog posts are some of the most sought after, linked to, and bookmarked content online. People want useful information, and they’ll reward you by promoting it to others when you provide it.

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Do Keywords in Post Titles Really Matter?

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It’s an epic battle of biblical proportions in the blogosphere.

The search engine optimization camp says keywords are the most important aspect of a blog post title.

How else will you rank high in the results and get clicks by searchers, they say, if the right keywords are missing from the title? And right or wrong, don’t even try to get an article republished out of an article marketing directory without some sweet keywords in your headline.

On the other hand, you’ve got the purist “write for humans” camp, who collectively scoff at the notion of keyword research for headline writing.

What’s the point of search optimized post titles if no one reads (and links) in the first place? And search engine traffic isn’t really all that important to most bloggers anyway, they vehemently maintain, especially compared to high-quality referral traffic from links.

Well, here’s the verdict.

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The Cheater’s Guide to Writing Great Headlines

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Imagine the life of the copywriter . . . a solitary figure staring intently at a computer screen (or out the window), flexing those mental muscles to create a killer headline out of thin air that will result in millions of dollars in sales.

Well, maybe not.

A more likely scenario has the copywriter looking for inspiration in her collection of winning space ads, sales letters and even the latest issue of Cosmo. She’ll also consult books that consist of nothing more than collections of headlines proven to work.

These compilations are called swipe files, and they’re worth their weight in gold when it comes to crafting great headlines.

Why? Because great headlines are constructed in certain time and money-tested ways that can be adapted into different contexts and re-used over and over. Anytime a promotion rakes in big bucks, you can bet copywriters and direct marketers will be studying, and saving, that headline for future reference.

In fact, swipe files can’t even really be considered cheating. It’s just the way it’s done if you want to write effective copy, especially when starting out. Only once a copywriter has a true understanding of what works can they take a completely original approach, and even then it’s pretty rare to come up with a gangbuster headline that is 100% unique.

Thanks to the “do it yourself” nature of Internet marketing, you’ll find people selling headline swipe files and even software programs that promise a “fill-in-the-blank” solution based on the “greatest headlines” ever written. Don’t get suckered by this.

The problem with that approach should be obvious. If you don’t understand why a particular headline works, you’ll never be any good at writing them. Plus, without real understanding, you’ll likely choose the wrong “formula” for any given situation, which can cause even a well-written headline to fail.

Starting with these tested templates can improve your blog post titles immediately, which in turn should translate into more readership and traffic. I’ll demonstrate several of these winning headline formulas that are well-suited for blogging, and explain why they work.

But first, the next post in this series will examine key words and why they are important in a headline. The answer may not be what you think.

This is the second installment in a series of posts called Magnetic Headlines.

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Why You Should Always Write Your Headline First

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Want to write great headlines and even better content?

Start with the headline first.

You’ll of course have a basic idea for the subject matter of your blog post, article, free report, or sales letter. Then, simply take that basic idea and craft a killer headline before you write a single word of the body content.

Why?

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Did You Hear the One About The Long Tail?

In two days, Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail will be released in bookstores real and virtual everywhere.

The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.

Today, a mere two days before the book release, we learn that Mr. Anti-Hollywood himself, Johnny Depp, has steered a mainstream ship called Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest into film history by shattering every record that Chris Anderson likely wishes would have held at this particular point in time.

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