Developing the skill to write powerful titles and headlines for your blog articles, product pages, social media graphics, and other areas of your online business may be the most important and profitable task you can undertake!
“On average, 5x as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” ~ David Ogilvy
Every headline is like a mini sales pitch that needs to target your ideal audience, identify a problem or pain point and offer a compelling solution…all within the concise space of 6 to 8 words. That’s no small feat.
Underestimating the value of an amazing headline can be a costly mistake which will result in less traffic, subscribers, and sales. The quality of your headlines can be a determining factor between wild success and lukewarm interest in your online business.
Thankfully, hundreds of studies have been performed to assess the effectiveness of various strategies and identify what it is about a title that causes people to either click or scroll on by.The headline is the most important part of any blog post. People see the headline 5X more than the actual post. Click To Tweet
I’ve assembled advice from some of the most notable experts and studies right here so we can both benefit.
FYI, don’t try to fit all 25 tips in every title. Find the tips that are the best fit for your subject matter and make those titles shine!
#1 Convey the key point
First and foremost, your title or headline needs to convey the key topic or point of your article. By relaying a clear picture of what to expect from your article you’ll get a better response from your ideal reader.
#2 Be concise
When writing headlines and titles, you want your phrasing to be short and to the point. Wordiness and vague terms don’t serve you well. Choose the most concise terms. Look at thesaurus.com for synonyms and related terms that might add clarity and strength to your phrasing. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your headline a dozen different ways until you’ve found the most succinct way to phrase your thought.
#3 Hook them with a benefit or problem solved
WIIFM is an acronym you want to keep in the back of your mind. It stands for “What’s in it for me?” This is what your reader is thinking when he/she is perusing your title, your blog, your product pages, etc. People are online looking for solutions to their problems and pain points.
The most effective headlines will identify a problem and offer a solution all in one short sentence. Help them to visualize a better future with the solution you offer. When they can see what’s in it for them and realize the potential benefits they can gain, they will click every time!
#4 Focus on “who” not “why”
People want to know, “Does this apply to me?” Make it clear who will benefit from your title. Is it for women or men? For kids or senior citizens? Desk jockeys or tradesmen? If you can narrow in on your ideal customer, you’ll get more clicks from your intended audience and conversions will increase.
#5 Focus on the negative
We all have a built-in fear of making big mistakes, suffering humiliation, or missing out. Subconsciously, we’re always looking for ways to avoid being in those situation. Headlines that focus on the negative fears we all struggle with receive high clicks rates because they promise to help people avoid these painful circumstances. Using alert words like the ones in the list below can trigger that need for self-preservation.
#6 Don’t be too pushy
While you want your titles to compel people to click, be careful not to go overboard. Telling someone they “have to” or “absolutely must” can have a negative effect. Maybe we all have a rebellious streak inside us that gets riled when we feel we’re being coerced unnecessarily.
Similarly, titles that imply “life or death” severity or use extreme language where it isn’t warranted get labeled as “click bait” and develop a bad reputation. We’ve all clicked on that link and rolled our eyes thirty seconds later when we realized we’d been baited without cause. Don’t be that blogger! Use compelling language but keep it honest.
#7 Highlight the benefits
Explain to your reader in clear terms the benefits they’ll get from reading your article or visiting your page. This technique works especially well with a list post. Use words like these to highlight benefits:
#8 Create headlines with six to eight words
Studies have shown that headlines with 6 to 8 words get clicked the most. If you use less words than that, you probably aren’t conveying a clear picture of what the blog is about. Too many words get cut off in the search results, making your message incomplete. This video from Neil Patel—a noted blogging expert—explains this title hack well.
#9 Keep it under 70 characters
Google shows up to 70 characters in search results. If your title contains more characters, it gets cut off. People are more likely to click on a title that presents a clear, complete message. Work with the search engine parameters for best results.
If you’re using Yoast SEO plugin on your site, you can make use of the preview pane that shows you what your title will look like in a Google search result. This allows you to preview exactly what people will see and adjust it for maximum impact.
#10 Use emotion words
Emotions are persuasive! Using an emotion-invoking word in your title or headline will strengthen the impact and increase clicks. When you’re writing a headline, what you’re really doing is:
• Offering people hope through your solution
• Inspiring them to take action
• Arousing overwhelming curiosity
• Playing on their fears
• Encouraging empathy toward your views
In all these instances, you’re speaking to their emotions, and some words evoke more emotion than others. By using emotion-packed words in your title, you will trigger their emotions and elicit a reaction—or a click!
Check out this downloadable list of 400 High Emotion Persuasive Words.
#11 Include your keyword
Using a keyword in your title will help you rank in the search engines. If you’re creating headlines for social media, using a search term in your title allows your reader to immediately see the topic they’re looking for in the graphics, assuring them that this blog post or page will contain information they’re searching for. While using a keyword isn’t 100% necessary, it’s certainly more effective.
#12 Optimize for people first, search engines second
Make sure your title or headline is a smooth read. Often bloggers try too hard to include keywords and optimization techniques and end up with an incredibly awkward sentence that doesn’t sound natural. While you want to work with the search engines and get maximum traction from your headline, it’s more important that people relate to it and want to click.
#13 Put weight on the first 3 and last 3
Studies show that people focus on the first three words of a headline and the last three words more than what’s in the middle. To take advantage of this fact, put your key phrases at the beginning and end.
21 Blistering Comebacks for the Sarcastically Impaired
This example shows what your readers eye will focus on. The sample uses the first three words to state the topic and the last three words to explain who will benefit from the article.
#14 Use headline analyzer tools
The internet offers some amazing tools to help you write the strongest possible titles and headlines. Headline analyzers use complex algorithms to assess your potential headline and offer analysis on the strengths and weaknesses of your word choices and advice to make it stronger.
Here’s a tip for all you perfectionists—don’t get upset if you can’t score a 100. With most analyzers I’ve used, a score of 70 or above is exemplary. In fact, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never scored above a 78. The point isn’t to write a perfect title, but to improve on your ideas until you’ve found the best possible option.
Here are several headline analyzers or title generators you can try out.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
- SEOPressor – a wordpress plugin
- Sharethrough Analyzer
- Portent Title Generator
- Blog Title Generator from BlogAbout By Impact
#15 Use sentence case in your titles
Studies show that “sentence case” feels more conversational than other title formats. Sentence case capitalizes the first word of a title and any proper nouns. All other words begin with lowercase letters. If you have a very formal or academic blog, you may want to use Title Case instead, but most blogs are going for that relatable feel that is best conveyed with sentence case.
Use one of these popular formats for your title
#17 How To
This one is self-explanatory. If you write a post that explains a process or delivers a tutorial, the “How To” format is a great choice!
How to ________________
#18 Case Studies
Have you recently run an experiment or tested some new technique? Posting the results of a case study offers valuable insider info!
How I did ________________ in a month
#19 Lessons Learned
People love reading a recap that shares the insights you gained from an experience. When you’ve achieved a significant accomplishment or suffered a major setback, share what you learned and use this format for your title.
7 lessons I learned from ______________
#20 Reasons Why
When you’re making a compelling argument for a cause, listing out a number of reasons why a person should adhere to your advice is an effective way to format your blog post and your title.
15 reasons why you need to ____________________
#21 Provocative Question
Ever been drawn in by a compelling question that speaks directly to a problem you’re struggling with? Or one that triggers your curiosity? The provocative question can create a click-worthy headline.
Are you ____________________?
#22 News Headline
Announcements about new products or big changes in your online business are best represented with the “news” style headline.
Announcing the release of _______________!
#23 Direct and Specific
Why beat around the bush or drop hints when you can get right to the heart of the matter? A title that shouts out a benefit in clear and direct language can have powerful impact.
Grab your free ____________
Tell your reader what they need to do in order to gain a specific benefit. You are targeting their pain point by offering a solution that involves a simple action on their part.
Receive ________________ by doing _________________
Piquing the curiosity of your reader is a way to create irresistably clickable headlines. Dropping a hit about juicy secrets or warning of negative consequences is enough to make anyone click.
Why you can’t afford to ______________
There you have it! 25 tips for writing strong headlines your audience can’t resist! Headline work is time well spent because that headline will be attracting visitors to your site for years to come. The more clickable the better.
Test out these tried and true techniques a few at a time and see what your audience responds to. Then watch as visits to your site increase and interest in your blog explodes!