Do you make these common headline mistakes?

December 16, 2010

Business blog headlines | Chicago content writerAre your headlines working for your business blog?  Are they luring in readers, or are potential clients skipping your posts because of them?

Headlines the first chance you have to reel in customers.  If you’re like me, you scan headlines and read what seems interesting to you.  And, if you’re also like me, you get really mad when a headline seems so great, but is full of generic and useless information.  But maybe I just get mad a lot.

On the other hand, a promising headline + fulfilling content = jackpot!  I’ll browse around your blog for a while, leave a comment, and maybe subscribe to your RSS feed.  And become a potential customer.

Besides the appealing to customers, headlines are primary content for search engines.  A headline that has your keywords in it does much more for your blog than one that says, “I had a great day today!”

No pressure, right?

Here’s a quick list of the most common headline mistakes for business blogs:

1. Your post doesn’t live up to the headline’s promise

YES, headlines should grab attention, but it drives me bonkers when “10 best blog tips in the universe!” turns out to be a generic piece of crap.  Judy Dunn, a blogging and marketing consultant, just did an entire post on what she calls “headline trickery.” The problem with overpromising is that it may drive some traffic to your blog, but if they feel decieved they certainly won’t stick around or buy anything, so really, what’s the point?

2. Your headline doesn’t motivate

If you’re writing a business blog, no doubt you’ve got tons of advice that can help potential customers, and almost 100% of it has to do with money. You want to help them make money,  save money, keep them from wasting money, or feel good that they are spending their money wisely.

Whatever that is, you need to include the MOTIVATION for following your advice in your headline.  Let’s use a fictional meeting space as an example.

Headline #1: 10 tips for a great meeting

Headline #2 (better):  10 tips for a meeting that will impress your customers and get repeat business

#2 is more appealing because it includes an END RESULT – what you will get for following the advice of the writer.  And it implies that the reader will make money.

3. Your headline is the MOST AMAZING HEADLINE IN THE WORLD (e.g., it oversells and people don’t buy it)

If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.  So, if you do have something amazing to write about, get specific.

Headline #1: How I quadrupled my blog traffic

Headline #2 (better): How one guest blog post brought 600 new visitors to my site and led to six more blog post opportunities

The reason #2 works better is because it just seems more real because it’s more specific.  More specific seems achievable by people who are reading your advice.

4. You spend too much time on the headline.

Even the experts — think the Readers Digest editors who write “Walk your way slim in 5 days!” for every issue — look back at successful headlines and repeat them. You could try to come up with the most clever, mind-blowing headlines for every post, but you also don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

So with that said, here are some great resources for headlines I use. I keep these bookmarked and refer to them as I write. Some people suggest writing the headline first and then the post, some do it opposite. Either way, just make sure the content matches what the headline promises, or I’m gonna get real mad.

Top resources for writing business blog headlines


How to write Magnetic Headlines: This is actually a series of articles from Copyblogger.  Each one is helpful.  Explains the theory behind why great headlines work, and has a list of “formulas” you can customize for your own headlines.

15 Ways to Rework Your Next Blog Post Title from Problogger is a quick, one-page article that help you rewrite the blog post title you are working on RIGHT NOW.

The Number One Reason You Don’t Have More Readers: 6 Ways to Fix a Boring Blog Title by Judy Dunn can be used as a worksheet – take your current blog title and see if you can spice it up using her tips.

Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ricardo Bueno January 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I tend to try and start my articles with the headline first. Once I’ve landed that part (and I can still get better), I start working on outlining the post. I do a mini-mindmap or list of bullet points. If I start to wander, it’s time to break that post up into a series or two separate posts all together.


2 Erika January 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Sounds like a great process. I recently read that 20% of your time should be spent on the headline, 80% on the body.


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