Writing unique and relevant content is the way to attract readers, right?
Well, as it turns out – your content may only make up a small part of attracting an audience.
According to Copyblogger’s research, 80 percent of people will read a headline when it is presented to them (whether that be while browsing the web or scrolling through social media), but only 20 percent will actually read your content.
What does this data mean for your content strategy? Simple: it means you need better headlines! A captivating headline is far more likely to attract readers than an article with a boring title. Think about it from a personal perspective: are you more likely to read an article with an exciting headline promising useful information, or an article with a boring headline that blends in with the rest of your Facebook feed?
If you’re anything like most readers, you’ll be far more likely to read an article with a captivating headline. Headlines can be tricky, because not everyone has the natural talent to write them. Some people are simply wittier than others, and headlines are a tricky area due to their nature. We went ahead and compiled 55 of the best headline-writing tips on the web, in order to help you compose your future headlines:
- Write a number of headlines for each post. Making a list of 20-25 potential headlines can help you narrow down your selection to only the very best.
- Use a Headline Analyzer, like the one made available by CoSchedule. It’s as simply as entering your headline and analyzing the results!
- Help, don’t tell. Offer help to your reader in your headline. Readers are more engaged when they feel content pertains to them.
- Offer the “Best.” Readers are always interested in knowing the best way to do something, so show this with your headlines using the word “best.”
- Offer advice. Everyone wants to improve, and everyone is looking for advice to do so. Include this as part of your headline, using statements like “Why you should…”
- Use evidence. Include evidence as part of your headline, such as “Scientific study shows _____ does _____.”
- Speak from personal experience. “What I learned from…” is an excellent way to start your headline, as it shows you’re about to speak from personal experience.
- Don’t use clickbait. Avoid over-hyping the content of your article with your headline – this is a great way to lose readers.
- Make your headline accurate. Your headline should match up with the content you are delivering.
- List headlines should include numbers, i.e. Top 10 Reasons Why…, Top 5 Best…, etc.
- Use open- and closed-ended questions. Using questions as your headline encourages reader engagement.
- Indicate that the content is interesting. If you’re talking about something really awesome, make sure it shows in the headline!
- Offer a solution to a problem. Everyone likes solutions to problems. Show your reader that you’ve got a solution to theirs.
- Use Statistics, when possible. Statistics are great because they’re objective, and they are an excellent way to show impact.
- Understand your audience, and write headlines that will most appeal to them.
- Speak like your audience. Using the same vernacular as your readers can be one of the best ways to catch their attention with a headline.
- Write about relevant topics, and reference those topics in your headline. Everyone wants to stay up-to-date, so relevant headlines are great way to attract readers.
- Take emotion into consideration. Words can leave a positive or negative impact on their reader. Both negative and positive adverbs and adjectives can attract readers, but studies show that negative superlative actually perform about 30 percent better than their positive counterparts!
- Take word balance into consideration. Some words are used often, others are used rarely. You’ll want to have a good combination of commonly used words and uncommonly used words in your headlines.
- Use positive words to convey strong, moving emotions.
- Use negative words to play on the doubt of your reader. We all have doubts. Using negative words can be a great way to draw on those of your reader, particularly if you offer them a resolution to the issue they’re experiencing.
- Put your superlative at the beginning of your headline, as this will more immediately grab the attention of your reader.
- Think outside of the box. Not all headlines have to be prim and proper. Sometimes being a little weird with your headlines can work!
- Use humor cautiously. Humor is subjective, and not everyone will get every joke. It’s often best left out of your headlines.
- Create a sense of urgency. If your readers feel like they need your information right away, they’ll be more likely to read past the headline.
- Capture the strangeness of your story with the headline. If your article discusses something out of the ordinary, convey it with your headline.
- Know where you’ll post your article. Different platforms have different ideal headline lengths.
- Make your headlines direct. Ambiguous headlines don’t tell the reader anything about what they’ll find in your article, so avoid unclear headlines.
- Make your headline the right length for your language. For English, your headline should be about 16 to 18 words long, but other languages may have different standards.
- Consider a strong font for your headline. Fonts that stand out are more likely to capture the attention of the reader.
- Make your headline stand out with size. Making your headline larger than the rest of the article is a traditional way of captivating readers, and still works to this day.
- Consider using color to make your headline stand out. Chances are, the body of your article is written in the automatic black font color seen nearly everywhere. Make your headline a different color to help it stand out against the rest of the text.
- Choose the right alignment. Your heading should be centered or left-aligned – centered gives off a more powerful feeling, while left-aligned is considered more conservative.
- Write for the search engines. Search engines prioritize articles with headlines of fewer than 70 characters. Keep this in mind when giving your article a headline.
- Use a keyword search to find out what your readers are searching for, and use the results as part of your headline in order to improve your SEO.
- Use related search terms to see what others are searching for, and use those results to create the best headline.
- Use Google’s Advanced Search to find search trends, and use those search trends when writing your headline.
- Address your readers by using “you” in your headlines. This adds a personal touch, and quickly captures the attention of the reader.
- Keep things simple. Headlines are important, but long headlines can lose the attention of your reader immediately. Keep your headlines accurate and to the point.
- …but still stand out. Generic headlines are very common, and keeping things simple doesn’t mean you need to be generic. You always have room for creativity!
- Use the active voice in your headlines, rather than the passive. More people will respond to headlines using the active voice than those using the passive.
- Offer additional content with your headline. If you have a free gift for your reader (a template, eBook, etc.), be sure to include it as part of your headline.
- Make your headlines stand apart from those of your competitor. You don’t want your readers to get the two of you confused because you have similar content, subject matter, and headlines!
- Brand your content with your headlines. Your headlines should also become a part of who you are as a brand. Give them a unique feel that truly sets them apart from the rest.
- Try new ideas. There are many tried and true formulas for creating headlines, but you should always be open to trying new ideas you’ve never done before.
- Test the efficiency of your headlines using social media. Post the same article on the same social network with different headlines, and see which performs better.
- Challenge popular belief. Readers are always captivated by information contrary to their personally held beliefs, so include this in your headline if it pertains to your content.
- Use evergreen content with new headlines. If you posted an article two years ago that remains relevant today, do the necessary edits and post it with a different headline!
- Shorten headlines for email subject lines. Take the most important part of your headline and turn it into an email subject line that will capture the attention of your email recipients, encouraging them to read the article.
Writing headlines is a science, and understanding the formula for good headlines can change the size of your audience drastically. Excellent headlines in combination with the right SEO strategy can take your content to the forefront of the web.
If you still need help writing the perfect headline, we highly recommend using CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer, which gives you a complete breakdown of your headline and how it can be improved.