In Britain, newspapers will design whole pages around a killer headline: indeed, a very thin story can be sold by a few well-placed words, especially if a big “sexy” picture is thrown in to the mix. On the internet, which is generally no friend to big “sexy” pictures, a killer headline is even more important for good SEO-friendly content, backed up of course by a homicidal first paragraph.
You’d be wise to spend at least half your production time on this important word partnership. It is, after all, a fine juggling act. On one hand, you must grab your reader’s attention (and factor in lots of keywords to grab the search engines’ attention, too); on the other, you don’t want to overload anyone’s brain.
In reality, even the most interesting words on the web seldom hold peoples’ attention beyond two or three paragraphs, and thereby lies the killer intro’s importance. Get it right and you’ll have passed on the content you need to before the reader drops off; you might even have grabbed their attention enough to make them read on.
So how do you grab that attention? Try these …
- Start with a quote, best of all some funny words from somebody famous. It gets straight to the point and establishes a common frame of reference with the reader.
- Quote a relevant, surprising statistic, and make sure it’s as clear as possible. New information is naturally interesting and will draw the reader in.
- Draw a word picture in the reader’s mind. Invoking their imagination gets them involved in the content from the get go.
- Ask a question (preferably one which your content will answer). Questions — even ones that need no answer — make people think and lead them to seek solutions.
- Tell them a story. Storytelling is something humans do instinctively, and listening to stories is just as natural.