19 Simple Tips to Help you Write Better Headlines
I’ve forever struggled with deciding on a headline for my blog posts. Headlines are crucial for driving traffic to your blog. After all, website traffic is one of the most important metrics for success.
Imagine a lifeless blog title. Would you ever click on it, leave alone spend time reading the post? If your content is the gift to readers, the headline is the packaging. Irrespective of whether you’re writing for your blog, or social media or an email, the title needs to draw attention. It is the first impression that can either make or break your reputation.
As David Ogilvy once said, “The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat’. Use it to flag down readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising”
Writing headlines isn’t that easy though. Some of the best writers note down several different titles before they actually go ahead and publish one. Prior to writing that perfect headline, you need to determine what kind of post you’re writing.
Some of the most common types of blog posts are:
- Case Studies
This list is exhaustive. To get more inspiration for your next blog post, I suggest you read the article by Digital Marketer.
Once you’ve decided on the format of your blog post, it becomes easier to work on the title. Always begin with a working title, that way your content creation process isn’t held up. I always go back to the SHINE formula popularized by Kissmetrics while writing headlines.
Once you’ve written the entire post, follow these 20 simple tips to help you write better headlines:
Make it unique
Remember, almost 3 million blog posts are written and published each day. Thus, it is crucial you don’t get lost amidst the crowd. What’s that one most important way, you can stand out? Your headline.
So take some time out, think about what you’re going to write and how you can make your headline unique. Don’t be afraid of experimenting. Even if your experiments fail, there’s a lot you can learn from them. If your headline is unique, there are higher chances of people reading your blog post.
Most people don’t want to hear about how amazing your company is or how your products and services are the best in the industry. Keep those sales pitches for when you’ll be closing leads as customers. Most people visit your blog or read your social media posts to learn something new. Whether your readers are prospects or existing customers, they look for content that will be beneficial to them. So as you create content that offers help, ensure that the headline speaks the same language. How To/The Best Way posts work great for this purpose.
It’s always a good idea to avoid beating around the bush. Be it your content or the headline, keep in mind that the only way you come across as an honest person or entity is by being specific about what you’re offering.
I’m a big fan of headlines that ask questions. Questions can be open-ended or close-ended, but they draw attention almost immediately. Such posts are a good way to making a problem statement and then going on to work out a solution.
Would you click on a blog post such as this?
Is your Marketing Strategy Stopping you from Getting Leads? Your Challenge Ends with this Small Change
I’m sure you would.
Lists are some of the top performing content types ever. And how can you write the title of a list post? Use numbers in the headline.
Rather than saying, The Digital Marketing Blogs We Read Religiously, try using 10 Digital Marketing Blogs We Read Religiously
Use words (positive or negative) that have emotional appeal with your readers. Certain words that you can incorporate into your blog titles are ‘Best’, ‘Easiest’, ‘Top’, ‘Never’, ‘Worst’ and ‘Stop’.
Words such as these also help bring in a sense of urgency that drives traffic to your blog. Imagine, you’re having difficulty making an online purchase. You come across a post titled Never Goof Up the Next Time You Shop Online. You’re bound to be interested, right?
Use compelling adjectives
Use adjectives more often to pique your readers’ interest and spice up blog titles. Common adjectives such as ‘Amazing’, ‘Brilliant’, ‘Controversial’, ‘Unbelievable’ are quite effective in jazzing up headlines.
Look at how we’ve used 2 adjectives in this blog post itself—20 Simple Tips to Help you Write Better Headlines
Feed on a reader’s curiosity and the need for awareness. Write titles that are catchy just because they leave that irresistible hook. Think 10 Kitchen Hacks to Make Your Life Easy. Number 9 is My Favorite!
Headlines such as these can, of course, border click bait, so use them judiciously and only when appropriate. Unless Number 9 is really incredible, don’t write it.
Sometimes, people like being guided. They like it when they are given clear instructions on what to do and how to do it. So, if your headline can make you sound like an authoritative figure, compelling others to do what’s going to help them, don’t be afraid to use it.
Avoid click bait
When I started out my content writing career a few years back, I was specifically instructed to make my headlines clickbait. I groaned about this because I would NEVER open an article with headlines that made false promises. Thankfully, the days of click bait are over. Now, people see through your hollow attempts to get more clicks.
Avoid click baits such as She Walked Up in Front of the Judges. You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next! and you have a better chance at your content performing well.
Share your story
People love stories. They like to read about real people, their challenges, and successes. If you have a story that will inspire others and help them solve their problems, go ahead, share it and say so in the headline.
See Neil Patel’s From “aha” to “oh shit”, I’m sharing everything on my journey to 100,000 monthly visitors.
Avoid passive voice
Using passive voice in your headlines unnecessarily makes them lengthy and difficult to understand.
Consider this example:
10 Common Mistakes Made by Content Marketers Every Day
This can sound simpler if we tweak the headline to look like this:
10 Common Mistakes Content Marketers Make Every Day
Write several versions of the headline
Upworthy suggests you jot down at least 25 different titles for your blog post. It’s important to build a repository of headlines for each article so that you can use them across a variety of channels. It is also a good way to test out what works and what doesn’t and helps the next time you repurpose a piece of evergreen content.
Write different headlines for social media
Social media is a great way to A/B test your headlines. When you’re promoting a blog post on Twitter, for example, use different headlines and see what works. Using a variety of headlines can increase your reach and provide valuable insight on how to draft your headlines the next time.
Optimize for SEO
While you’re writing primarily for your readers, it is also a good idea to craft your headlines for search engines such as Google. Google is a good starting point to learn about optimizing your headlines.
Don’t stretch your headlines beyond 60 characters and ensure you include your keyword. Use tools such as the Keyword Planner, Google suggest (when you type in a few words in the Google search bar and it comes up with suggestions) and related terms at the bottom of the search page.
Headline should match the content
Your headline should reflect the content on offer. Get straight to the point and let readers know what they will get once they start reading your post. If possible concentrate on the core idea of the article and make that stand out in your headline.
Choose the right font type and size
When you add your headline to your post, choose a font type that makes an impact both from an aesthetic point of view.
Equally important is the size (use a bigger font size that the rest of the content), bolding, capitalization, color and alignment. When it comes to color, most readers prefer black, but you can experiment with other variations.
Let the world know if you’re offering additional content
You’ve written a useful blog post which includes additional useful content such as an infographic or a template or a cheat sheet. Let your readers know right from the start.
People love something of value that they can take back after reading an article. So if you tell them what you’re giving them in the headline, it gives readers a stronger reason to click through.
Here’s an example from our own blog: Understanding The Nuances Of Meta-Data (Infographic)
Fall back on competitor research
One of the best ways to improve your content is to do some research. Take time out to read what your competitors are posting. Analyze their headlines, find out what makes them click.
Take advantage of those insights and figure out how you can tweak your headlines to make them unique.
Need a handy checklist to remember these useful tips?