5 Blog Headline Formulas Readers Can’t Resist


blogging-tipsWould you like to master the art of writing hot blog headlines? After all, there's no doubt your headline is the most important part of your blog post.

While honing the art of writing hot headlines may take a while the good news is there's no need to reinvent the wheel.

In How to Write Hypnotic Headlines I recommended five highly successful headline formulas. If you haven't read it you should check out the post but to sum up the five headline formulas are:

  1. Numbered list;
  2. How to;
  3. Why;
  4. Best or Worst;
  5. Asking a question.

Just using those five formulas there will be hundreds of different possible headline permutations for your blog topics.

Many small business bloggers may never need to go beyond those headlines and some blogs (and their readers) are so enamored with list headlines that's all they ever use.

But if you're getting bored with those formulas your readers might be too and, if you're blogging to showcase your writing skills, you'll want to be more creative. So get ready to branch out and experiment more with your headlines.

Here are five more hot headline writing formulas for you to play around with and you'll see that some of the examples are a potent combination of two different headline formulas.

If you want to expand your headline horizons further check out Copyblogger's blog headline tips but if you just want to make sure your headlines attract the right readers to your blog here are five ideas to get you started fast.

1. Famous Example Headline

There's nothing like a big name to draw the crowds. The secret here is to take a well-known person, movie or TV series then find the overlap with you topic. A few examples:

2. Top 10 Headline

A slight variation on the numbered list this arouses curiosity by making people want to see what makes the grade, what doesn't and, above all, if they agree with your choices. For example:

3. Buzz Words

There are a few words that people can't resist like new, secret and odd. It's strange but true that headlines with these words in will have a higher click-through rate than the same headline without them.

Other powerful words are killer, essential and free but use the last one carefully. Emails with a subject line including the word “free” often end up in the spam folder and, of course, you don't want to mislead your readers.  Some fun examples:

4. You or Your Headlines

These headlines speak to your readers directly and let them know that your post will solve their exact problems.

5. The Hot Content: Reason You Can't Miss it Headline

So channel your inner tabloid editor, have fun when you write your blog headlines and remember these two things:

1. You don't want to mislead readers so make sure you deliver the goods your headline promises in the body of your blog post.

2. When you're learning anything there will be failures along the way – the art of writing hot headlines takes time to master so start practicing now.

What's your most successful headline ever? It's probably the blog post which had more retweets, Facebook shares or comments than any other post. Please share it in the comments, we'd love to know.

Photo credit: Jackson 5 by Michael Ochs, Getty Images


  1. says

    Hi Johanna,

    Absolutely. If your post bombs when you thought everyone would love it the most likely explanation is the headline was wrong. Feel free to rework and improve them:)

  2. says

    There are some posts I read and I just have to clip it to Evernote so it staying in my reference system – this is one!
    Thanks for the great formlas Annabel, I try not to use formulas too often as I’m worried I might sound repetitive. However I suspect if I do it right no-one would ever know! I really like the examples you’ve given – is there any chance we might get to read “Pooh Bear’s Guide to Living a Long and Happy Life” some time soon? 😛

  3. Stephen Jeske says

    @Annabel, that’s a nice list of headlines that are perfect for anyone’s swipe file. @Rosemary , the formulas work as any good “checkout rag” will prove, but it does help to rework them to avoid being repetitive.

  4. says

    I have to confess… I don’t worry all that much about the headline… and I’m not a huge fan of list posts. That said, I do know there are excellent reasons I should pay more attention to both. I think it’s my rebellious side, I don’t like being told what top ten things are best or 5 ways to blast your blog to the moon. I know… I can see you shaking your head Annabel and you’re right.

    The blog post that has consistently gotten the most response was titled: A Toast to New York for Legalizing Gay Marriage.
    Thanks for the lesson.

  5. says

    I am in the same boat as Barbara. I usually just create the content and want to push it out as quickly as possible without worrying about the headline even though I know it’s an important thing to have a compelling title.

    On the other hand, I love list posts, since it makes content writing a bit easier.

    Think my new goal is to focus more on the Buzz word type headlines though. These seem to be the kind that are shared most regularly via social media since they have a bit more sensational flare.

    Love this post 🙂

  6. says

    Hi Annabel,

    Practical and bottom line approach as always. Love it.

    Certainly thinking about a Pooh Bear guide – that’s awesome! Ummm, the Pooh Bear guide to growing great Merlot….nice and slowly! The Pooh Bear guide to maturing great Merlot….even more slowly! Then we could have the Christopher Robin and Rabbit guide to drinking Cloud9 CabFranc…..drink as soon as you can get it. Oh, such fun.

    I do have to admit that our recent blog post “Leadership Lessons from the Lion King” attracted more than its fair share of hits!!

    Keep up the great work,

    David Stannard
    Paradise Rescued

  7. says

    Mmm great ideas Annabel and I’ll bookmark this – and so great too all the fabulous comments you’re generating. I’m going to try Johanna’s idea. I agree headline is vital with all the noise out there.
    Have a fun day…

  8. says

    Hi there, some that worked well for me are:

    Top five podcasts for mums on the run

    Ten lessons from early intervention that relate to weight loss

    I ought to do more lists!!!

  9. says

    Great post Annabel! I’m bookmarking this for the next time I want to be a bit more compelling with my blog titles.

    I titled a post: ‘Parenting Tip: Never Chuck Your Kid Out of a Moving Car’ which got quite a lot of hits due to the shock factor. It made people curious.

  10. says

    You know, you are so very good at this… I read your previous post on email subscribers and thought gulp… I totally neglect my subscribers… all of them. I am so happy to have them but there are no special perks!!! And then I read this post and realize that my poor long time readers must be be bored out of their minds with my blog titles… I need to up the anti-again and rethink the whole “se7en + 1 of the best” !!! Which is kind of sad… there is always so much more to do!!! Chin up I guess and soldier on!!!

  11. says

    No wonder, headline can create make magic. Moreover, traffics from social networks are more depend on Headlines.

  12. Shayna says

    Most successful e-newsletter (and post) title:

    Don’t say this! 15 common grammar mistakes in spoken English

    It speaks to the “fear” trigger as English learners wonder, “uh-oh… am I making those mistakes?”

    Post has been shared 400+ times so far!

  13. says

    Oh this is great and useful article. Thanks for sharing it.
    There are some online blog title generator tools, what do you think about those?

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