For Whom the Blog Tips (It Tips For Thee)

Well, it’s the first of the month, and I promised Easton Ellsworth that I would do some blog tipping, and I’ve gotta stick to my word. And since we’re only 11 days late for Papa’s birthday anniversary (and plus the fact that I’ve written so many link baiting headlines in the last two weeks I feel in need of a shower), I’ve dedicated this headline and blog tipping post to literary giant Ernest Hemingway (in case you didn’t notice).

Let’s get started, shall we?

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10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work

Magnetic Headline Formulas

So, you’re seeing too many of those “how to” and list headlines, and want to try a few different angles?

Let’s move beyond those common headline formulas you see over and over, and add some new blood to your attention-grabbing arsenal.

1. Who Else Wants [blank]?

Starting a headline with “Who Else Wants…” is a classic social proof strategy that implies an already existing consensus desire. While overused in the Internet marketing arena, it still works like gangbusters for other subject matter.

  • Who Else Wants a Great WordPress Theme?
  • Who Else Wants a Higher Paying Job?
  • Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?

2. The Secret of [blank]

This one is used quite a bit, but that’s because it works. Share insider knowledge and translate it into a benefit for the reader.

  • The Secret of Successful Podcasting
  • The Secret of Protecting Your Assets in Litigation
  • The Secret of Getting Your Home Loan Approved

3. Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]

Simply identify your target audience and the benefit you can provide them, and fill in the blanks.

  • Here is a Method That is Helping Homeowners Save Hundreds on Insurance
  • Here is a Method That is Helping Children Learn to Read Sooner
  • Here is a Method That is Helping Bloggers Write Better Post Titles

4. Little Known Ways to [blank]

A more intriguing (and less common) way of accomplishing the same thing as “The Secret of…” headline.

  • Little Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
  • Little Known Ways to Hack Google’s Gmail
  • Little Known Ways to Lose Weight Quickly and Safely

5. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All

A classic formula that identifies either a painful problem or an unfulfilled desire that the reader wants to remedy.

  • Get Rid of Your Unproductive Work Habits Once and For All
  • Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All
  • Get Rid of That Lame Mullet Hairdo Once and For All

6. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]

People love quick and easy when it comes to solving a nagging problem.

  • Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold
  • Here’s a Quick Way to Potty Train Junior
  • Here’s a Quick Way to Backup Your Hard Drive

7. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]

The is the classic “have your cake and eat it too” headline — and who doesn’t like that?

  • Now You Can Quit Your Job and Make Even More Money
  • Now You Can Meet Sexy Singles Online Without Spending a Dime
  • Now You Can Own a Cool Mac and Still Run Windows

8. [Do something] like [world-class example]

Gatorade milked this one fully with the “Be Like Mike” campaign featuring Michael Jordan in the early 1990s.

  • Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat
  • Party Like Paris Hilton
  • Blog Like an A-Lister

9. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of

Appeal to vanity, dissatisfaction, or shame. Enough said.

  • Build a Body You Can Be Proud Of
  • Have a Smile You Can Be Proud Of
  • Build a Blog Network You Can Be Proud Of

10. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]

Big curiosity draw with this type of headline, and it acts almost as a challenge to the reader to go ahead and see if they are missing something.

  • What Everybody Ought to Know About ASP
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About Adjustable Rate Mortgages
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About Writing Great Headlines

Find these headline templates useful? Pick up our comprehensive ebook on Magnetic Headlines as well as a full content marketing library … for free. You can click here to learn how.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

Why Some People Almost Always
Write Great Post Titles

image of magnetic headlines logo

What are some of the characteristics of people who crank out blog titles that work really well most of the time? Is it something anyone can learn?

Yes, and except in very rare cases, writing great post titles and other headlines can likely only be learned. Rather than relying on natural talent, people who consistently produce winning headlines have learned to do three basic things:

1. They understand that all compelling headlines make an intriguing promise that makes it almost irresistible to its target audience. Understanding the intended audience is key — a really great headline generally won’t appeal to everyone, and watering it down for mass appeal will only hurt you.

2. They study headlines that have been proven to work, and that usually means direct response advertising headlines. In that context, “proven to work” means people responded to that particular headline by pulling out their wallets and making a purchase. You can also learn by studying some of the top magazine headline writers, who work for Cosmopolitan and similar glossies, and even the tabloids you see at the supermarket checkout lane.

3. Most importantly, rather than simply mimicking great headlines, they understand why the headline works, and therefore can make an educated decision as to which type of headline structure is most appropriate, and how to tweak it within a certain context.

So what about the title of the blog post you’re reading right now?

1. Starting off your post title with “why” at the beginning of a declarative statement (instead of a question) is one easy way to focus in on the benefit of reading your article. That’s one of the reasons why the title of this post works, but the words that follow the “why” are what’s most important.

You can do the same by starting with “here’s why,” “what,” “when,” or “how,” or you can simply make a strong statement that clearly demonstrates that the elaborated answer will be provided in the body content. And of course a carefully worded question can magnetically draw in your intended readers as well.

2. The title is modeled after this famous advertising headline:

Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market

Within the context of what I wanted to convey with this post, the basic structure of this classic headline works perfectly.

Why?

3. Credibility. The use of the word “some,” and having “almost” modify “always,” make the headline much more plausible. Not even the highest paid copywriters in the world always nail a headline that works, and some people never write great post titles, because they don’t take the time to learn how.

Many people feel that a great headline is bombastic and full of hyperbole, but that’s usually not the case. If people don’t believe you can deliver on your promise, they won’t bother reading further, and your over-the-top headline fails.

As the people marketing their content via Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites up the ante with headlines that strain credibility, their results will diminish, while you’ll gain an advantage by becoming a true student of great headline writing. Understanding what type of headline is appropriate to a specific context is the real key to writing magnetic post titles that get your content embraced and shared.

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

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SEO Secrets Revealed

The “secrets” may surprise you.

Nick Wilson of Performancing has put together a great post that truly breaks down the methodology involved with search engine optimization in a world controlled by Google’s relevancy algorithms. Whether he knows it or not, Nick’s thoughts on this topic last year provided some validation for the ideas behind starting Copyblogger in the first place, but here he ties it all together perfectly.

Check it out.

Why the AdWords Landing Page Fiasco Won’t Hurt Bloggers

What a terrible morning it was last week when many Google AdWords advertisers woke up to find that many (if not all) of their sweet low-cost-per-click bids had been disabled, and minimum bid requirements enacted that killed any chance for a return on investment. Turns out Google tweaked its landing page relevancy algorithm, with disastrous results for many big-spending AdWords players.

Scott Karp has been on top of this issue, mainly from an affiliate marketing standpoint, and I agree with him that a transition from pay-per-click to cost-per-action is beneficial to both Google and advertisers. But the reasons for the recent trauma may not be all that nefarious, and instead simply a reflection of the way Google tends to evaluate relevancy.

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Link Karma

Ever since the Indie Virus spawned in the Copyblogger comments four months ago, many smart people have concocted their own branded link viruses. Witness Blog Tipping, Link Leak, and plenty of others I’ve missed or forgotten (leave your linking meme in the comments and I’ll update).

Due to my blogging style, I don’t link out as much as I’d like. So, to make sure I take the time to do so on a regular basis, I’ve decided to create my own weekly link feature called Link Karma. I know how important it is to link out to others, and you should too — if for no other reason than because what comes around goes around.

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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

image of magnetic headlines

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?

image of magnetic headlines

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

image of magnetic headlines

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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