If your headline doesn’t grab your reader and compel him to read further- all is lost. For that reason the headline is, and always will be, the most important part of your content. (With the lead- the first 100 words or so after the headline – closely behind in importance.)
For those who think that videos have taken over- just remember, people will look at the headline (and a few lines of description) before deciding to spend time with a video.
For inspiration for compelling headlines look at headlines that are working. For example, check the headlines for the most popular articles on Dig. Or Mashable. You can be sure the headlines in tabloid magazines and newspapers – like Cosmo and the New York Post – are attracting eyeballs and offer examples of what entices the consumer market, in particular.
For years, online headlines neglected the connection between headlines and accompanying visuals. Tying the two together can be exceptionally sticky.
The Huffington Post is very good at tying together punchy headlines with visuals to attract eyeballs.
For instance when the stock market rallied after a weeklong nose dive – The Huffington Post ran this headline:
Right under the headline was the stock chart for the day. Good grabber.
When bank executives refused to talk to NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo about their lending practices, HP ran a picture of the execs seated at a hearing. Above the photo was a one-word headline:
(The word for the Mafia code of silence.) Very Sticky.