The worst headline? Surely not? It is with good reason I suggest this is the worst headline you can use. How many times have you seen the headline starting “Everything you need to know about…”? When I was new to the Internet and encountered such headlines I would think “Great”, and open the piece. But it was NOT everything I needed to know, the content barely scratched the surface, it was less than I already knew.
The reason for my search was that I needed to know more.
The Worst Headline — Challenge
The challenge with “everything you need to know” is that EVERYTHING provides quite a wide scope. It is somewhat akin to letting the pirate in. Everything you need to know about television, for instance it will not tell me:
- How the Sony QX92-4HD works.
- What channels to subscribe to.
- The documentaries that are available on History Channel.
- How TV shows are made.
- The story behind “Midnight, Texas”.
Yet someone could argue that they are each essential elements to know about television. Each would deserve a full piece written about them. But they an undeniable part of a greater whole.
The great challenge with “everything you need to know…” think that opening that page will provide answers to their problems. This is why I believe saying “everything” contributes to the worst headline, it is not specific enough.
What “Everything you Need to Know” Means
The words “everything you need to know about…” have become a synonym for saying that the writer is going to skim over the details, provide a gloss, often barely 500 words in length.
With most subjects to discuss “everything” will take a lot of words, more than a short blog post, often more than a book, or series of them. In part it is what makes writing so interesting, the impossibility of describing everything.
Facts About… Another Problematic Headline
Some writers look at the words they have written and realise they could not have possible covered everything so use “about” or “facts about” in the title. It is true that people want to read facts. This is again a matter of presentation. Think about those coloured glass marbles you have in your collection, each is different, each is different in character. They are each marbles, but they are each unique. “About” shows the intention to ignore the details, but details must get shown. Why does one have a yellow and red stripe and another black? Details matter, as they distinguish individual marbles, they should distinguish the details in your work.
It would be better to have a headline “7 Facts on Car Insurance in Australia” than use the title “About Car Insurance”. Like “everything you need to know”, the terms “about” or “facts about” is a clear signal that the material contained in the post is merely a quick skim of the subject. The writer performed no real research when writing this piece.
It is also clear indication that they have failed to think about the reader or how to attract them to their story.
How a story is received starts at the headline, although that title is, probably, the last thing decided. Headlines need crafting, they need thought. You don’t need the worst headline. View each option from many angles. Ask yourself what each means. Even when we do that it is still possible to go off track and have a headline fails the work it supports.
Think about TV advertisements for one moment. What is your favourite?
We all have a favourite. We like them because they inspire us, make us want to buy the product, have a tune that we hum over and over again, have a little character that moves us. The Geico Gecko, is one example of an advertising character that moves us and there have been many more used over the years. That little creature has the perfect voice to draw you in, is a great character, polite charming. Many people put this picture on the wall in their office, even if they don’t buy car insurance from the company. We all know and love it, even people working for competing companies will have a little place in their heart for it. There is a little of us in there, which is why it is so important.
The challenge of TV advertising is that they tell a story and sell us something in 30 seconds or less. They are somewhat like twitter, they allow people to build a teaser and draw the audience in, with the hope of something more. That is the goal of a headline, show potential, invoke the imagination, act to bring people along to read the piece. When writing a headline that should be you aim.
The Article and Headline work Together
The greatest and most memorable pieces have headlines and articles that are in sync. They are attuned to each other. They also speak to the needs of the reader. They work together and tell a story together. It is a story that readers want to hear.
Effort matters. The worst headline, is often one nonchalantly added. it has little thought. Effort is required to produce a truly excellent headline. Generally, the more effort, the more thinking, you do — the more powerful the headline you are likely to produce. You need several options to work from.
To avoid creating the worst headline you need to be realistic in headline creation. The word ‘everything’ is simply unbelievable. ‘About’ and ‘facts about’ lack precision. These are a poor impression to give. Find alternative words if you are about to start your headline with any of these words. You want something more upbeat, something that compels the reader, to read on.
It also should be a sign that your blog post needs to be targeted, respond to specific issues. There is always room for articles containing facts. People desire facts. What you write in your post are facts. If, for example, you were writing an article about the dangers of smoking it may cover facts about the harm smoking does. The diseases it makes a person more susceptible to, etc. This may provide the reader 7 reasons to stop smoking.
You have not covered everything, but you have given detail where it is needed. You identified 7 points of interest. It is not “everything”, but… I think you’ll understand where I’m going with this.
Other items to Avoid
Each of the following find their way into headlines, even professionally written ones. Generally these are things to avoid:
- Superlatives like amazing, incredible, best, awesome, easy, simple, or unbelievable.
- Instructive words like ‘always’.
- Oblique words, that only a small percentage of the population will understand.
- Misspelled words.
- Vagueness, triggered by words like has, are.
- Being too positive.
- Passive voice
- Indecisiveness, words like: may, maybe, might.
- Accusative words, like ‘you’ or ‘you should’.
- Pronouns, I, you, we, our.
- Words requiring evaluation, like affordable, better, inexpensive, famous.
- Ownership — your, you’re. The latter is often misused.
- Eliminate unnecessary words.
- A headline is not an announcement
Other related Posts
How you create headlines is vital to the success of your blog. You don’t want the worst headline, but without thought you could end up with it. The following offer some assistance in creating better headlines.
- Headline Magic: 10 Secrets to Gain Readers Everyday
- Tantalizing Titles: Getting into the Reader’s Mind
- Have CoSchedule Created the Best Headline Analyzer?
- Create Pioneering Headlines: Use AMI Headline Analyzer
- 101 Creative Rules for the Modern Blogger
Thank the author, donate to the success of GobbledeGoox. This page is supported, in part by donations from readers, like you, who wish to thank the author for writing on this topic. If you have questions about headlines then please ask them via a comment. All images used here are available in the public domain and have been resourced from royalty free sites like Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash.