A senior editor at The New York Times shares his insights on what makes a compelling header.
Crafting excellent headlines is one of the true arts in writing. And now, thanks to some excellent testing by the New York Times, we’ve got some science to back it up too.
“In one effort to increase readership, The Times is using a tool that allows us to simultaneously present two different headlines for the same article on its home page,” writes Mark Bulik in “Which Headlines Attract the Most Readers?”
“Half of readers on the page see one headline; half see the other. The test measures the difference in readers clicking on the article and lets us know if the numbers are statistically significant. If so, the winning headline goes on the home page for all readers,” Bulik continues.
The results are definitive, and Bulik gives some great examples to demonstrate the results, including one that bumped readership by 1,677%. That’s massive proof.
So what is the secret?
“We’ve learned a number of lessons from months of testing, but the most important one is pretty obvious — clear, powerful words and a conversational tone make a big difference,” says Bulik.
Clear, powerful words and a conversational tone; seems so simple, right? Let’s see how we do.