Warning: Headlines Can Kill You

WARNING! Headlines can kill you!

Headlines and post titles will make you or break you. You can write killer content, but end up getting no eyes on it. Why? Because readers have to quickly filter through mountains of posts, clicking only on the titles that promise to be useful. How do they make that decision so quickly? They judge a book by it’s cover. Yep; they base their decision on the headline, because they simply don’t have time to click, load and read the first paragraph before deciding to read the whole article. They have to decide by looking at the headline.

And what type of headline will they click? Here’s what Susannah Breslin says:

“To make someone twitch their digit [i.e. click], you must reach inside their brain and pull a lever. This is not done by being boring, by being dull, by being a fact factory.”

There are already plenty of good articles out there about how to write awesome headlines and post titles, so I’m going to talk a bit about writing BAD headlines; the kind of headlines that will kill you!

Headlines Can Kill You — 3 Ways to End up with Lonely Content


One sure way to end up with lonely content is to give a lengthy title. You weren’t creative enough to capture your core message and display it in a few enticing words, so you give too much information in the title. How long is too long? A good guide is to keep it under 70 characters, because the Search Engines will chop off whatever goes beyond that anyway. Here are a few samples of “too long”:

Warning Headlines Can Kill You


Another content-killer is the headline that appeals perfectly to what people are looking for, but then disappoints by not delivering what was promised. Sure, you’ll get some clicks, but you’ll only generate UN-fans, and UN-followers. Bait & Switch Headlines look great, but they don’t match the content!

  • Lose 15 Pounds in 15 Days (then the article just sells a drug, rather than explains the process).
  • The Key to Improved Search Results (then the article gives 10 factors to juggle, without naming a “key”).
  • How I Earned $10,000 Online by Blogging (then the article requires you to purchase the eBook).


You just can’t afford to write a boring headline. Sorry. The competition is too stiff (with 2 million new posts being published every 24 hours). You’ve got to find your inner artist, and create something that is both ENTICING and RELEVANT to the content. You know what boring looks like, and here’s how you can fix it:

  • “Some good recipes for making quick meals” vs. “3 Complete Meals You Can Prepare in 30 Minutes or Less”
  • Working from home can be much better than working at the office” vs. “Want More Money & Freedom? Work from Home!”

OK, you get the idea.

If you’re putting out the effort to create great content, then give 15 minutes to writing a headline that will give your content a fighting chance to be seen.