What TMZ and HuffPo can Teach Us About Irresistible Headlines

August 14, 2012 — 3 Comments

Whether you succumb to reading gossip on TMZ, or favor more newsworthy articles on Huffington Post, there are common tactics used by writers on both ends for irresistible headlines that can capture readers for your small business website or blog.

Image of Paparazzi Cameras-Headline tips from TMZ and Huffington PostThese tactics re-work basic headline formulas in ways that readers can’t resist. These formulas are used everywhere from the magazines at the check out counter, to the newsletters in your inbox, or just posts on your favorite website. Attention grabbing headlines catch our interest and entice us to read a the story even if it’s just a quick skim.

Is your content not getting the clicks it deserves? Tweaking your headline can be the boost your posts need.

So what headline tips can we learn from a gossip website, and a news site? Take a look at the some I found on both sites, and how they work with basic headline methods.

Arouse curiosity

Shake up the status quo, with a “Why”. If a reader is curious, then they will want to know more. And if they want to know more ,then they will click and read atlas the first paragraphs.Observe the use of the basic “Why” Headline

TMZ:
Why Jamaicans HATE ‘Cool Runnings’
HuffPo:
Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus
Why Promising to Save the Middle Class May Just Not Be Enough!

The why headline is an easy grab of attention because it arouses a casual browser’s interest.  ‘Cool Runnings’, the Disney movie based on a Jamaican bobsled team, is a popular feel good story on persistence. A  common point of view, would be Jamaicans would like the movie, so a title that puts a different spin on that is bound to get clicks. Huffington Post’s headline also puts a spin on a common held belief about evangelicals and their relationship with a religious figure.

Give headlines a teaser of whats to come

A basic numbered lists work really well in telling the reader what to expect. Compare the power between “Get a better body” to “5 Minutes to a better body” Numbers can work in a variety of situations from checklists, to ideas, tips, and tricks.

Huff Po:
7 Reasons Why Diamonds are a Waste of Money

The beauty of it is the writer can talk about a variety of things from the shady history of diamond trade, to newer more precious stones, to how common diamond rings are, to a review of increasing divorce rates and the myth of everlasting love. It works because it sparks interest, and gives a hint.

Pose a challenge in the headline

Ask a question. This basic tactic arouses a reader’s curiosity and make them want to know more. A greatly phrased question can entice the reader to get answers to the question through the story.

TMZ:
“Can Rob Lowe Save ‘Two And A Half Men?’
HuffPo:
Is Cheating Contagious?

Both questions make a reader wonder and challenges them to answer the question, and the only way to know is by reading the continent.

Surprise the reader with the unexpected

In this instance use celebrity names, figures, shows, or a familiar subject with a twist. TMZ is a celebrity gossip site, so the use of celebrity names in unexpected situations is rampant. But even if it is not a tabloid scandal, headlines  about subjects we are already aware of gets more clicks when used in a surprising way.

TMZ:
Michael Phelps — Gold Medal Loser in Real Estate

HuffPo:
What Arranged Marriages Taught Me About Love
What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Stepfamilies
7 Life Lessons You Can Learn From ‘Star Trek’

These headlines take a subject that is commonly known or understood and puts a different spin or context. Arranged marriages are not traditionally seen as loving, and Steve Jobs, the admired innovator, is an unlikely source for inspiration on family bonding. Michael Phelps has been anything but a looser at the Olympics, so putting the unexpected link sparks curiosity.

Inspiration can come from many places, re-working your headlines with these tricks could help make your content stand out and earn you more readers and social media shares.

Image credit: Flickr-practicalowl

This post is part of a series that will get published every Monday on Content Marketing or Blogging, follow me via Twitter or E-mail and never miss a copy of helpful small business online marketing strategies.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. Find her on Twitter and tell her what strategies work for your business.

About these ads

3 responses to What TMZ and HuffPo can Teach Us About Irresistible Headlines

  1. 

    Great suggestions…thank you!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Are you loosing readers in your first 50 words? « Daisy Quaker -Internet Marketing for Small Business - August 20, 2012

    […] point of the headline is to get clicks; the point of the first 50 words is to get readers to read the […]

I'd love to hear your thoughts, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s