Most blog zombies aren’t completely useless. In fact, I have a special name for blog zombies that are completely useless: corpses. The typical blog zombie is alive and kicking, though. Well, undead and kicking. And I’ve found that many of them share a common skill – they write awesome headlines for their blog posts.
But let’s face it; it’s pretty easy to write awesome headlines. In fact, I once went to a presentation by Chris Garrett where he went over 10 formulas for headlines that will attract readers:
- Do You Make These _____ Mistakes?
- The Secrets of _________
- What _______ Can Teach Us About __________
- Everything You Know About ___________ Is Wrong
- How ________ Made __________ and You Can Too
- If You __________, You Can ___________
- Finally, No More ___________
- At Last! ____________
- Learn How Millions of ______________
- How to Get More/Better/Cheaper ____________
Just fill in the blanks. “Everything You Know About Weight Loss is Wrong” or “If You Can Whistle, You Can Make Money Online” or “Learn How Millions of Pet Owners Found Love.” Easy Peasy. When I’m stuck, I actually use this list for inspiration.
Of course, these aren’t the only headlines you can use to attract attention to blog posts. Zombies are pretty creative when it comes to writing linkbait, at least with the title.
The problem is this: Zombies put more effort into ensuring that you love the headline than they do ensuring that you love the post.
Let me ask you about your experiences. How many times have you clicked through after reading a headline on Facebook or Twitter (or even a search engine) only to be disappointed by the boring or unoriginal content? It happens to me regularly, sometimes to the point where I want to scream. The worst is when I see very competent non-zombie bloggers who I normally enjoy resorting to this measure to drive traffic. You aren’t being clever. You’re just pissing me off.
The content has to match the promise you make when you write a headline.
If your headline promises Ten Secret Techniques to Baking the Perfect Pie, I want ten techniques that I’ve never heard of before. Or at the very least, they better be ten techniques that people don’t commonly talk about. If you just talk about pie-making techniques that most bakers know, I’m probably not going to come back to your site. That same post with the title Pie Making 101 – Tips for Beginners would be much better. Even if I didn’t need that information, it wouldn’t make me feel as though I’ve wasted my time.
Misleading headlines are kind of like angled pictures on dating profiles. If you hold the camera above you and turn your head a certain way and make duck lips, you’ll look 20 pounds lighter and 10 years younger. Eventually, we’re going to have to meet in real life, my friend. Isn’t it better to tell me upfront what I’m going to get when we meet?
Write fantastic headlines. That’s how you’ll get that boost in traffic and more shares via social media. Just make sure the content is even fantastic-er. If it’s not, you might see some traffic spikes, but your long-term traffic will suffer.
- The Most Valuable “How To” Lesson of my Copywriting Career (sitesketch101.com)
- Do You Read Before You Retweet? (kommein.com)
- How To Be A Great Blogger, Even If You Don’t Like To Write (blogzombies.com)