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Here are 5 tips to turn mediocre to attention-grabbing headlines.
No matter how good your blog or social post is, it’ll all go to waste if your headline isn’t compelling.
Therefore, aim for a strong, head-turning headline that will not only be descriptive enough to let your audience know what your content is about, but would also pique their curiosity, and get them to click through and continue reading. Because, really, isn’t that the goal?
WHY HEADLINES ARE IMPORTANT: FACTS AND STATS?
According to Co-Schedule, an expert on all things marketing, 8 out 10 people will read a headline, while only 2 out of 10 will click through. That’s why your headline should be so appealing and seducing, so it’ll will make your audience curious enough to ask for more.
Want more proof?
According HubSpot, 43% of readers just skim through blog posts, rather than read it fully. Again, that means that your headline should be skim-able and powerful, so it cuts to the chaise in milliseconds.
Also, people tend to skim the first 3 and last 3 words, so make sure those contain the most critical information.
“Your headline should be skim-able, powerful and cut to the chaise.”
Copyblogger says that every element of compelling copy has just ONE purpose, which is to get the next sentence read. And then the sentence after that, and so on. And if the headline is the first thing they read – it carries the most weight than anything else following.
TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE SUPER-CATCHY HEADLINES
Check out my 5 tips on how to create powerful headlines that command attention.
1: USE POWERFUL WORDS TO CREATE POWERFUL HEADLINES
Keep the language of your headline simple, but powerful.
Simplicity is often under-stated, but when you use simple, recognizable, relevant, strong words – written with purpose, intent, and in the language and manner that’s easy to follow – the results are click-worthy.
I frequently use Headline Analyzer to test my headlines for blogs.
The idea is to create a few titles and see how they score against one another. The higher the score, the more chances you have to capture people’s attention. The number to aim for is anything above a score of 70.
Headline analyzer scores titles based on the use of these type of words:
- Common: Words that are frequently used in the every day setting. People easily recognize these words.
- Uncommon: Words that aren’t frequently used in the every day language.
- Emotional: Words that make you feel something and target desired emotions.
- Power: Words of empowerment that encourage feelings of motivation.
Use a combination of these for the biggest impact.
Here are a few examples from each of the categories to incorporate into your titles:
Power and emotion words:
Here is the analysis I just performed, using headline analyzer. Notice in the first image, how I went from score 64 to 75 by making just a few changes.
Now, see the second image for a breakdown of power, emotion, common and uncommon words – that are all the ingredients of a powerful headline.
2: WRITE HEADLINES WITH A BUILT-IN PROMISE
Some of the best headlines I’ve ever come across, usually had some type of promise, a reward, or result built into it. Whether you want to share tips and tricks on how to do something, or promise to deliver a result – build this promise into your headline.
“Build a promise into your headline.”
How to do that?
The trick to making a promise is timely relevancy. Equally important, the promise needs to resonate with your audience and it’ll do that if it is relevant to your target base. The premise of relevancy is knowing and understanding your audience well.
- What are your customers’ pain points?
- What problems are they looking to solve for?
- What information are they interested in learning?
- Essentially, what will improve their life or an area of life?
Once you have an in-depth understanding a problem, offer a solution in a headline – but do that in a familiar language, using the words your audience knows, understands and engages with.
Here are some examples of headlines with a built-in promise:
- 3 tricks I use to cure writer’s blog
- Get rid of this time-sucking habit for good
- How to increase your productivity and never look back
3: OFFER A SUBTLE HINT OF MYSTERY
One ad that was created back in 1926 became the most popular and successful ad in the history of marketing and advertising. It went like this:
“They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano — But When I Started To Play!”
The man behind it, according to Business Insider, is John Caples, who wrote this powerful headline for the U.S. School of Music, advertising piano lessons.
And the reason why the ad became an overnight success, is because Caples realized that for an ad or a headline to be effective, it wasn’t about trying to sell piano lessons. It was about connecting with an audience emotionally, creating an air of intrigue, and making a promise of potential benefit.
This particular ad, utilizes both the promise and the mystery (tips 1 and 2 of this article). You have a promise that you’ll learn to play piano like you wouldn’t believe, and at the same time there is mystery that has us – an audience go – “what happened when he sat down at the piano?”
How to induce curiosity with your headline?
As you can guess, the goal of your headline is to evoke curiosity and to entice your audience to read your entire blog post. To accomplish that, never reveal the main takeaway in the into.
Instead, offer a subtle hint of mystery to your readers by showing a glimpse of what you plan to discuss. Reveal just enough, for someone to say “I want to know more”.
This, in a nutshell, was the inspiration behind Viral Nova website that takes regular news and stories that circulate the web and turn them into intriguing headlines. This model, according to Business Insider, is responsible for most viral content out there.
I searched the Viral Nova site and pulled a few great examples of powerful headlines that piqued my curiosity. They revealed tiny bits of information, that made me click on the links to read the entire story or at least the first paragraph. Comment below to let me know if any of these seemed intriguing to you.
Examples of headlines that do this well:
- Alleged Alcatraz Escapee Sends Letter To FBI 50 Years Later Revealing He Survived
- Olivia Newton-John Shares A Heartbreaking Update About Her Health
- The Reason Why Meghan Markle Is Not Having A Maid Of Honor
- Nurse Does Something So Incredible To Help A Young Mother With Cancer
- This Math Question Aimed At Fifth Graders Will Have You Scratching Your Head
- This is why you need to stop eating tilapia ASAP
- This Is The Thing You Use In Your Office That Has More Germs Than A Toilet Seat
- 20 Bizarre Facts About Money You’ve Definitely Never Heard Of
- This Is The Simple Thing That Could Improve Your Child’s IQ Score
- This Is The One Seasonal Treat We Love That Could Be As Bad As Smoking Cigarettes
4: MAKE EVERY SINGLE WORD COUNT
According to Jerod Morris of Copyblogger, every single word in your headline should contribute to promising a benefit or provoking curiosity (or both). “No fluff. No flab. No dead weight.” So whether you decide to go for a longer headline, or a punchy short one, make sure every word counts.
How many words exactly should you aim for? It really depends. There are so many opinions on this subject and all of them make a good point.
5 WORD HEADLINES:
According to Jakob Nielsen, of World’s Best Headlines: BBC News, headlines should be 5 words (34 characters) or less, because people won’t read much online. They skim.
If you do go for something this short, make sure every word is meaningful and deserving to belong in the headline.
6-7 WORD HEADLINES:
Some, like Neil Patel, an SEO guru, 6-7 word (64 characters) headlines perform the best as that’s the ideal length that fits in a Google search result, without cutting anything off.
16-18 WORD HEADLINES:
Outbrain, an advertising company, found that 16-18 words (60-100 characters) is a sweet spot as far as the headline length goes. A longer headline containing double and triple the recommended length by other industry experts, gets the most engagement from the audience.
What’s the consensus? Well, as you can see, opinions differ. I personally worry less about the length of the headline, and focus more on substance, clarity, and “catchy-ness” in my writing. But having said that people only read the first and last 3 words of your title, sticking to 6 words and making each one count is a good idea.
5: USE “HOW TO” AND “LIST” CONCEPT IN YOUR HEADLINE
I love both equally like I love my children. Not really. But I am mildly obsessed with these.
I find that I gravitate towards “how to” and “list” blogs not only when I develop those my clients, but also during my own research when I’m seeking an in-depth knowledge on a subject.
There is something about “how to” and “list” blogs that tells me right away that I will gain new insights, get practical step-by-step advice, and the information will be delivered in an orderly, consequential fashion.
Maria Konnikova of The New Yorker said it perfectly. The beauty of numbered article is that “it spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront.”
Her analogy for a list-type of article, which is so easy to navigate as it’s been categorized and analyzed for the reader, is “sipping green juice instead of eating kale.” Brilliant!
So, when you are trying to come up with a headline for your blog or social media post, or even a great subject line for custom emails – remember to leverage lists or how-to in your title. People love receiving information in this manner, as it’s easily digestible.
Examples of headlines that do this well:
- 7 Ways To Be Happy Right Now
- 10 Steps to Master Anything
- 100 Killer Ideas For Your Social Media Content
- Here’s How to Rank for Multiple Keywords with One Piece of Content
- How to Learn SEO (and Stay Sane)
POWERFUL HEADLINES CUT THROUGH THE NOISE
Don’t ever underestimate the psychology behind great headlines. Your audience wants content from your brand, but the only way they’ll pay attention is if you capture their attention. And the way to do that is by writing irresistible, captivating, knowledge-infused, and powerful headlines that will cut through the noise of the competitive marketplace.
Writing great headlines is part art, part science. It takes time, but the pay off is well worth it. Use my tips and check out my Content Vertical blog for more advice on writing great copy and finger-clicking headlines. As a side-note I consider myself an artist when it comes to writing captivating headlines. If you feel your brand could use this talent, let’s talk.
P.S. Here is some more good stuff.
Cameron Madill of Pixel Spoke put together a list of the greatest headlines of all time. Check these out. Some of them are simply brilliant. My personal favorite are: #1, #10 and #20, because they made a promise to reveal something I might not know.
The 100 greatest headlines of all time
- The Secret of Making People Like You
- A Little Mistake that Cost a Farmer $3,000 a Year
- Advice to Wives Whose Husbands Don’t Save Money — By a Wife
- The Child who Won the Hearts of All
- Are You ever Tongue-tied at a Party?
- How a new Discovery made a Plain Girl Beautiful
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- The last 2 Hours are the Longest — and those are the 2 Hours you Save
- Who Else wants a Screen Star Figure?
- Do you Make these Mistakes in English?
- Why some Foods “Explode” in your Stomach
- Hands that Look Lovelier in 24 Hours — or your Money back
- You can Laugh at Money Worries — If you Follow this Simple Plan
- Why some People almost always make Money in the Stock Market
- When Doctors “Feel Rotten” this is what they do
- It Seems Incredible that you can offer these Signed Original Etchings — For only $5 each
- 5 Familiar Skin Troubles — Which do you want to Overcome?
- Which of these $2.50 to $5 Best Sellers do you Want? — For only $1 each
- Who ever Heard of a Woman Losing Weight — and Enjoying 3 Delicious Meals at the Same Time?
- How I Improved my Memory in one Evening
- Discover the Fortune that Lies Hidden in Your Salary
- Doctors Prove 2 out of 3 Women can have more Beautiful Skin in 14 Days
- How I made a Fortune with a “Fool Idea”
- How Often do you Hear yourself saying “No, I haven’t Read It: I’ve Been Meaning to!”
- Thousands have this Priceless Gift — But Never Discover it!
- Whose Fault When Children Disobey?
- How a “Fool Stunt” made me a Star Salesman
- Have you these Symptoms of Nerve Exhaustion?
- Guaranteed to go through Ice, Mud, or Snow — Or we Pay the Tow!
- Have you a “Worry” Stock?
- How a new kind of Clay improved my Complexion in 30 Minutes
- 161 Ways to a Man’s Heart — In this Fascinating Book for Cooks
- Profits that lie Hidden in your Farm
- Is the Life of a Child worth $1 to you?
- Everywhere Women are Raving about this Amazing New Shampoo!
- Do You do any of these Ten Embarrassing Things?
- Six Types of Investor — Which Group are You in?
- How to Take Out Stains…Use (Product Name) and Follow these Easy Directions
- Today… Add $10,000 to your Estate — for the Price of a New Hat
- Does your Child ever Embarrass You?
- Is your Home Picture-Poor?
- How to Give your Children extra Iron — these 3 Delicious ways
- To People who Want to Write — But can’t get Started
- This Almost-Magical Lamp lights Highway Turns before you make them
- The Crimes we Commit Against our Stomachs
- The Man with the “Grasshopper Mind”
- They Laughed when I sat down at the Piano — But when I started to Play!
- Throw away your Oars!
- How to do Wonders with a little Land!
- Who else wants Lighter Cake — In half the Mixing Time!
- Little Leaks that Keep Men Poor
- Pierced by 301 Nails…Retains full Air Pressure
- No more Backbreaking Garden Chores for Me — Yet Ours is now the Show-Place of the Neighborhood!
- Often a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride
- How much is “Worker Tension” costing your Company?
- To Men who Want to Quit Work Someday
- How to Plan your House to Suit Yourself
- Buy no Desk — Until You’ve seen this Sensation of the Business Show
- Call Back these Great Moments at the Opera
- “I Lost my Bulges — and Saved Money, too”
- Why (Brand Name Bulbs) give more light this Year
- Right and Wrong Farming Methods — And Little Pointers that will Increase Your Profits
- New Cake-Improver gets you Compliments Galore!
- Imagine Me…Holding an Audience Spellbound for 30 minutes
- This is Marie Antoinette — Riding to Her Death
- Did you ever see a “Telegram” From your Heart?
- Now any Auto Repair Job can be “Duck Soup” for You
- New Shampoo leaves your Hair Smoother — Easier to Manage
- It’s a Shame for You not to make Good Money — When these Men do it so easily
- You Never saw such Letters as Harry and I got about our Pears
- Thousands now Play who Never thought They Could
- Great New Discovery kills Kitchen Odors Quick! — Makes Indoor Air “Country-Fresh”
- Make this 1-Minute Test — Of an Amazing new kind of Shaving Cream
- Announcing…the New Edition of the Encyclopedia that Makes it Fun to Learn Things
- Again she orders… “A Chicken Salad Please”
- For the Woman who is Older than she Looks
- Where You can Go in a Good Used Car
- Check the Kind of Body you Want
- “You Kill that Story — Or I’ll Run You Out of the State”
- Here’s a Quick way to Break up a Cold
- There’s Another Woman Waiting for Every Man — And She’s too Smart to have “Morning Mouth”
- This Pen “Burps” before it Drinks — But Never Afterwards!
- If You were Given $200,000 to Spend — Isn’t this the Kind of (type of product, but not brand name) You would Build?
- Last Friday…was I scared!– My Boss almost Fired me!
- 76 Reasons Why it would have Paid You to Answer our Ad a few Months ago
- Suppose This Happened on Your Wedding Day!
- Don’t let Athlete’s Foot “Lay You Up”
- Are they being Promoted Right over Your Head?
- Are We a Nation of Lowbrows?
- A Wonderful two Years’ Trip at Full Pay — But only Men with Imagination can Take it
- What Everybody Ought to Know…About this Stock and Bond Business
- Money-Saving Bargains from America’s Diamond Discount House
- Former Barber Earns $8,000 in 4 months as a Real Estate Specialist
- Free Book — Tells you 12 Secrets of Lawn Care
- Greatest Gold Mine of Easy “Things-to-Make” ever Crammed into one Big Book
- $80,000 in Prizes! Help us Find the Name for these New Kitchens
- Now! Own Florida Land this Easy way…$10 Down and $10 a Month
- Take any 3 of these Kitchen Appliances — for only $8.95 (values up to $15.45)
- Save 20 cents on Two Cans of Cranberry Sauce — Limited Offer
- One Place Setting Free for every Three you Buy!
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Hi, I'm Masha
The words expert, coffee connoisseur, and the face behind Content Vertical.