extraThere are a lot of factors that motivate people to visit a page, but in most cases it really comes down to having an awesome headline. After all, the title and a snippet is often the only thing they have to base their decision on when they’re choosing which link to click in the search results, on a blog roll, on social media, or anywhere else a headline might be displayed. What if there was a way to develop the best possible headline every time? While there are never any guarantees, the following four-step formula can certainly help:

1. Build an Interesting Topic and Approach

A headline can only be as good as the content it represents. Thus, many people find themselves changing the headline or coming up with an entirely new one after writing the article. Once you know what you’re going to be writing about it will be 10x easier to create an accurate and attractive title. For example, if I know that I’m going to be writing about the most unusual places to propose, I already have a foundation for the name of my headline.

2. Convert Ideas Into a List

Once you have an idea of what the article is going to be about, look for ways to convert the content into an easily digestible list. People don’t want to read through a block of text to know what your main points are; they want to see them conveniently listed in sub-headers, bullet points, and lists. The internet has become list-oriented during the past 5 years and this trend is likely to continue because list-style headlines consistently perform well.

3. Use Fancy Adjectives

For some reason, inserting an eye-catching adjective here and there can work wonders to spice up a relatively bland title. For example, you could use “Top 10 Ways to Have a Vacation” or add a couple of adjectives and turn it into “Top 10 Unconventional Ways to Have an Unforgettable Vacation.” Instantly the headline goes from “who cares” to “hmm… I wonder what kind of unconventional tips this article might have.” Even in this article, the “4-step formula” part is probably what grabbed your attention.

4. Use Shock, Surprise, Intrigue, and Curiosity to Your Advantage

The goal of your headline should be to stand out from the sea of links and advertisements people encounter on a daily basis. The best way to do this is to focus on incorporating “buzz words” and mystery into your title. If you can successfully make someone think “I wonder what that’s about” you’re on the right path.

Make the Content Live Up to the Headline

Finally, try to make the content of the page do justice to its headline. Visitors don’t like wasting their time reading something that is only vaguely related to what they were promised by the title. If you come up with an extraordinary title like “The Answer to the Question: How Did We Get Here?” you better have something extraordinary to say or risk your piece being a huge disappointment. With that said, if you follow the steps above and start with a solid outline as recommended in step 1, you should already have the blueprint for a great piece of content ready to be aligned to the headline.