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Horrible Headlines—How to Avoid Them in Your Copy

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Do you toss and turn at night, worrying that your copywriting and headlines fall flat with readers?

As a freelance writer, I’m fully aware of how important words are to generating interest—especially on a local level. In Austin, Texas, words like ‘y’all’ and ‘tacos’ create engagement like nothing else, but that’s not the case on a national level.

My point is, our audience often determines the words we use. In the online world, horrible headlines can push your website into the dark corners of the internet.

You don’t want that, and neither do I. Let’s take a gander at a few ways you can improve your headlines for the better

1. Do as the Experts Do

There is nothing wrong with taking a little inspiration from the top websites.

Browse through sites like Forbes, Copyblogger, or The Huffington Post and see which of their headlines get the most social shares and comments.

Engagement is good sign of well-written headlines, and reading through popular sites can stir your creative juices.

2. Verify Your Ideas

The internet is packed with free tools to improve your copywriting.

Once you’ve come up with one or two great headline ideas, verify them with tools like the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Value Headline Analyzer which gauges the emotional intelligence of your title.

Don’t leave your headlines to chance. Verify them to guarantee they will make a big splash with your readers.

3. Eliminate Annoying Words

That’s totally ‘fetch’! I tote’s agree with you.

If you’re like me, these words will sound like nails on a chalk board.

Eliminate words that your audience will find equally as annoying, such as ‘hustle’, ‘best’, and ‘upworthy’.

Get to know your audience’s likes and dislikes, and follow through with compelling headlines.

Interestingly, most audience’s respond better to negative words like ‘worst’, ‘awful’, and yes, even ‘horrible’.

Find words that create an emotional response, and remember that most people believe negative news over good news because we’re hard-wired to avoid pain. Opt for negative superlatives in your title for the best response.

4. Keep it Short

Long headlines cause disinterest. Get to the point without giving away the point of your post. After all, if you answer the question or spill the beans in the headline, why would people want to read your blog?

For length, a good rule of thumb is between 5-8 words, with 5 being the ideal number.

Of course, you don’t want to cut things short to fit this rule. Instead, focus on succinct and comprehensive headlines. This might be difficult at first, but with time it becomes increasingly easier.

5. Use More Power Words

Give your headline personal charm with powerful words that evoke emotion. Words like ‘scare’, ‘fear’, ‘love’, and ‘perfect’ work well under this rule.

If you’re using them in conjunction with a list style blog title, such as 10 Things You Need for Your Summer Trip, then all the better.

People use the internet to answer questions and find valuable information. They base what they read off your headline. Copywriting is important for the body of your article, but possibly even more so for the headline. Break out your dictionary and thesaurus, and start implementing more power words into your copy.

Conclusion

As a freelance writer I see a lot of headlines that are, quite honestly, garbage. They fall flat when stacked against the competition.

Using these rules and tools, however, can have a powerful effect on your blog and give you the added “oomph” you need to stand out.

If you’re looking for a freelance writer in Austin, Texas to help with your blog or copywriting, feel free to reach out. I’d love to help turn your headlines into emotion packed, engagement-churning titles that get people to click.

About Alanna Sharp

My name is Alanna Sharp, and I would love to take your content to the next level! I’ve been typing my heart out for the past three years as a freelance writer and have used my creativity to enhance hundreds of websites, blogs, and storefronts.

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