Automakers of the World, Here’s How to Make Headlines

Cluster map of European auto manufacturers. Image courtesy of

Hey, Detroit! Hey, Wolfsburg! Hey, Toyota City! Think you know how to get noticed? Let’s see if you’re right. In this week’s Leadfoot post, we’ll look at headline-making best practices. And by that I don’t mean launching new models or issuing recalls or committing scandalous acts (hello, Volkswagen). Or anything else that might get you on the cover of Car & Driver or the front page of the LA Times. No, this is SO much simpler.

This is about the golden rules of headline writing for blogs and Twitter. Other than keywords, headlines are the most important element in any blog post. Why? Because if your readers use syndication tools to scan the news, they’re sifting through a lot of blog posts. So your headline is the first thing they’ll see, and the biggest deciding factor in whether they’ll read on.

Steak + Sizzle = Sales

Great headlines get clicked, tweeted, retweeted – and, even more important, they turn into sales. In fact, according to tests by Marketing Experiments, an Internet-based research lab that conducts experiments in optimizing sales and marketing processes, compelling headlines will:

·       Increase conversion rates by 73%

·       Get read by 8 out of 10 people

·       Perform 259% better than bad headlines

Top-ranked content marketing influencer and social media expert Jeff Bullas says we can thank Twitter’s 140-character count for highlighting the importance of writing short, pithy, “mind-blowing” headlines. Twitter, he contends, “has brought back the art of the headline.”

Great headlines blend substance and style, otherwise known as “steak and sizzle.” Of course, writing great headlines is easier said than done. Says Mark Schaefer, one of the world’s foremost social media strategists and author of The Tao of Twitter, “headlines can be painful to write — it’s like ad copy. It has to be short and impactful.”

Or, to put it more plainly, Schaefer asks, “Are you more likely to enjoy and remember a post titled ‘An analysis of SEO implications for blogging’ or one titled, ‘How to Be a Google Whore’?”

What’s more, the most effective headlines should incorporate keywords and phrases people might be searching for.

Top Tricks of the Trade


Lucky for all of us, there are many tried-and-true techniques we can use to craft eye-catching, intriguing and SEO-optimized headlines. The following tips and tricks come from the utterly charming and highly informative blogging resource website, Blog Godown:


  1. Lists or Numbers. Example: “The 21 Worst Things To Have On Your Blog or Website”
  1. Questions. Example: “Bloggers: Are You Making this BIG Mistake?”
  1. Adjectives. Example: “7 Smashing Techniques to Pull Guest Authors to Your Blog”
  1. Slang. Example: “Kickass Alternative Commenting Systems for Bloggers”
  1. Personal Experience. Example: “Why I Won’t Follow Everyone on Twitter”

Jeff Bullas believes “great headlines grab you, shake you and demand your attention” and offers these additional techniques from Authority Blogger:

  1. Get What You Want (In Health, Wealth, Relationships, Time and Lifestyle). Example: “The Secret To Getting More Money For Your Property!”
  1. Crystal Ball and History Example: “10 Predictions on the Future of Social Media”
  1. Problems and Fears. Example: “Get Rid of Your Debt Once and For All”
  1. Fact, Fiction, Truth and Lies. Example: “Little Known Ways To Make Money On The Stock Exchange”
  1. How To, Tricks Of The Trade. Example: “How To Plan The Ultimate Holiday”
  1. Best and Worst. Example: “The 10 Worst Mistakes Made by Bloggers

Auto Industry Checkup

So, based on all this expert advice, I had to wonder: How are the auto industry bloggers doing? A quick scan of the headlines produced these five examples:

From the dealer blog for Capistrano Volkswagen: “What Happened to Mini Vader from “The Force” VW Commercial?

★★★ 55 tweets, posted November 13, 2015

From blog: “VW and Audi TDI Owners: Your Guide to Volkswagen’s TDI Crisis”

★★ 13 retweets, posted September 22, 2015

From the blog: “Dr. Michael Steiner Becomes Group Compliance Commissioner”

★★★ 1,748 tweets, posted November 18, 2015

From Car Auto Daily: “2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune: A Bit of Baja for the Bug”

★★★★★ 3,500 retweets in 2 hrs, posted November 22, 2015

From the New York Times:

“How Volkswagen Got Away with Diesel Deception”

★ 16 retweets, posted November 21, 2015

Hey, you! Yes, YOU, auto buyer, dealer, manufacturer, enthusiast – whether you’re in Michigan, Germany or Japan, you’re wise to follow these blogging best practices. Ready to make headlines?