Why the top 12 best words to put in your headlines will unlock the secret to your future

Written by Michael on December 13th, 2011

I think, based on the accompanying video, Matt Thompson pulled this list of the “12 most interesting headline words” out of his proverbial ass. Whatever. In Thompson’s case, that’s regularly enough to make it gold.

  1. Top
  2. Why
  3. How
  4. Will
  5. Guide
  6. Best
  7. Secret
  8. Ultimate
  9. Your
  10. Worst
  11. New
  12. Future

Here’s a link to Thompson’s slideshow, titled “Dark secrets of the online overlords.” Like so many of the arguments I’ve found most persuasive in the last few years, much of this one consists of repeated examples of ways we should allĀ do what Nick Denton is doing.

(via NiemanLab)


8 Comments so far ↓

  1. Katie says:

    What, no “Free”?

  2. Michael says:

    Good point! Though I think the correct spelling is “FREE.”

  3. Scot Heisel says:

    The holy trinity in my neck of the woods is pistol, pot and pitbull.

  4. Michael says:

    How Your Pitbull Will Ultimately Guide You to the Best Pot (Using a Pistol) (PHOTOS)

  5. Katie says:

    How Your Pitbull Will Ultimately Guide You to the Best FREE Pot, I think you mean.

  6. Michael says:

    I stand corrected.

  7. sally says:

    You know – I have coached and ghosted “experts” through writing books. And one of the devices for writing a book to formula is using the words above and words like them in the title. Writing to formula helps to reach great numbers of seekers at a certain level, but what about those who are exploring the edges of an idea, the place where innovation really occurs? We’re not forwarding knowledge when we do this, but maybe we’ll make a buck? Is there a “formula” for working the edges?

  8. Michael says:

    Interesting question, Sally.

    It seems to me that you’re mistaking form for content. Maybe the title of a book or blog post isn’t itself innovative. I don’t see why that means the arguments it makes couldn’t be.

    To pick a ridiculous example, “The Communist Manifesto” is probably a more appropriate (and potentially more viral) title than “The Top 10 Reasons The Modern Nation-State will Collapse by 1860.” But I don’t think the title alone makes its thought any less radical or innovative.

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