Apologies for the goofy title to this post. But it’s an example of a headline that’s chock full of powerful words that will attract attention to your writing and pull in visitors to your website. According to “17 Trigger Words That Work Like Cheat Codes for Getting Your Content Read”, the words I used above are so effective because:
- “Yes”: It puts you in a positive state of mind and promises to be empowering. It also shows that the author knows that you have a problem you’ve wanted to solve or a goal you’ve wanted to reach for a while.
- “Virginia”: Whether you believe in Santa Claus or not, this iconic first name stands in for what Web geeks call that a “personalization token,” a little bit of code in an email blast to make it look personalized by dropping in the recipient’s name. Sure, everybody can still tell that it’s a mass or canned email, but seeing your own name still makes you feel that the content is relevant to you.
- “You”: Maybe more powerful than your name in appealing to your self-interest. Brian Clark of Copyblogger calls “you” the most important word in blogging.
- “Today”: Adds urgency, as long as you don’t overdo it.
It works. But is it right?
It’s not like hypnosis, subliminal messaging or even neurolinguistic programming — that is, there’s nothing secret or sneaky about using words that make your writing stand out online. It’s perfectly ethical to speak your reader’s language. Indeed, that’s the best way to get your writing read and thus, to offer real value to more people.
And it’s not even that complicated. You can start by following one of the good formulas out there for writing headlines. “How to” and list headlines do well according to the common marketing guru wisdom (and solid research).
Use trigger words in how-to articles
The king of how-to sites is Wikihow. See how they do it, for example:
- “How to Blog for Money“: Anything with “money” in the title stands out, and people who read it will share it as long as it delivers goods and doesn’t make empty promises.
- “How to Give a Compliment“: Maybe you’ve never considered that it’s especially hard to say something nice to someone, but this title will get you thinking that there must be a wrong way to do it, which you’ll want to avoid by reading this article.
- “How to Attract a Cancer Man“: People who are into the Zodiac will know right away that it’s not medical but is about how to find men born in late June and July. And that makes a great point about trigger words — they may not mean the same to everyone but can be useful to attract a niche audience.
…And use them in lists too
And for lists, just take everybody’s favorite clickbait website, Buzzfeed, for example:
- “12 People Who Love Drake More Than You Ever Will“: Even if you don’t know who Drake is (he’s a Canadian rapper), the headline might make you feel that you should learn.
- “10 Thrills Everyone Should Try Once In Their Life“: It’s not just girls who just want to have fun, but “everyone,” so that means everyone should click, right?
- “11 Sayings For Every Outdoor Adventurer“: This one’s actually an advertorial from Jeep, but using Buzzfeed’s clickbait headline formula it’s well positioned to deliver traffic.
I get it if you you don’t want to emulate Buzzfeed. Clickbait titles are manipulative and waste people’s time because they pull readers into garbagy stories about celebrities that those people would never care about otherwise. Life if short enough already — so don’t be evil by tempting people with more ways to waste time.
But if you are putting out useful advice to help your customers succeed in life and business, then honest trigger words should be your friend. Start with them in your headline and then use them, along with your search keywords, throughout the text of a blog post, email, e-book or web page.
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group