You’ll agree with me when I say this:
Headlines make or break your content.
The reason behind this is:
If your headlines are good, people will click on it to read your content. And if they’re boring, no one will care to read what you’ve posted.
It doesn’t matter if you’re offering the best content. If your headlines suck, all your time and resources that you put into creating your content get wasted.
According to Copy Blogger, 80% of your visitors will read your headline – but only 20% will go on to finish the article.
This is why it is important for you to give some time to create a headline that drives more traffic, shares and engagement.
And if you want this, you’re in the right place.
In this article, I am going to share with you 13 practical tips that will help you create better headlines. With the help of these tips, you’ll be able to create the best headlines for your content.
So are you ready?
13 Tips That Will Stop You from Writing Headlines That Suck
Here are some of the best tips that will help you create stunning headlines and in result will drive more traffic and shares to your website.
1. Make Your Headline Crystal Clear
It is very important to make your headline clear to the reader. The reader should know what they’re going to get from your content.
Always write headlines that clearly tell the reader about your content.
Consider this article on Moz blog:
This headline is very clear and it tells the reader what the content is about. This is what you have to do. Don’t the keep the readers confused. Before they even read your content, they should know what they’re about to read.
And also avoid writing misguided headlines. What I mean by this is that if you write a headline different from the content you've posted, people will bounce back to the search results. This will hurt your website rankings badly.
Key Takeaway: Make your headlines clear and easy to understand for the user. Make sure they know what the content is about before they even read it.
2. Use Numbers
Headlines with numbers are proven to generate 73% more social shares and engagement. This is why you see many headlines with numbers.
Many marketers hate using numbers and are sick of it. But slamming a number at the beginning of your headline will only help you.
Because readers care about numbers.
Moreover, using odd numbers in your headline works better. It is because people seem to remember and recall odd numbers more easily.
But that doesn’t mean you cannot use even numbers in your headlines. Take a look at the headlines of the most popular posts on Ahrefs:
As you can see, most of the headlines have numbers. It’s a mix of both odd and even numbers.
Here are some more headlines with odd numbers:
Here is an example of an even number headline:
Key takeaway: Use numbers in your headlines. Using odd numbers instead of even numbers will help you get more click-throughs.
3. Don’t Sweat Too Much About Keywords
Many people make the mistake of using too many keywords in their headline. This is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t read your content.
There’s nothing bad in using keywords in your headline. But it becomes a problem when you overuse them.
Instead of focusing too much on the search engine, focus on the search intent and the user. You need to answer what the user has searched for.
Yes, it is important to use keywords in your headlines. But what’s more important is how you use them in your headlines.
Let’s say I am writing an article on the best SEO tips. Now, we will compare two headlines:
Headline 1 – 13 Best SEO Tips to Improve Website Ranking
Headline 2 – 13 SEO Tips No Expert Ever Told You About
Clearly, the second headline is more attention grabbing. And if you think the first headline is better, think again!
Because after checking both the headlines from CoSchedule Headline Analyzer, the second headline got a better score.
You might be thinking:
I see the target keyword “SEO tips” in both headlines. What’s the difference then?
If you look at the first headline again, you’ll notice it’s not emotional or even powerful (We’ll discuss this later below”).
Key Takeaway: Focus more on writing headlines that engage the users instead of writing headlines for the search engine.
4. Don’t Stretch Your Headlines a Lot
Make sure your headline is completely visible in the search results. According to CoSchedule, headlines with 55 characters long tend to earn the highest number of click-throughs.
To make your headline be visible in the search engines, your headline must be around 70 characters long. And keep your headlines length around 6-9 words.
Key takeaway: Make sure your headlines are around 50-70 characters so that they are visible in the search engines.
5. Utilize FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out and it refers to the fear of missing out something better that may be happening or may have happened.
Utilizing FOMO in your headlines can help you get more attention from the readers.
You can emphasize something that users wouldn’t want to miss out if they don’t open your content and read it.
Here are some examples of using FOMO in headlines to stand out and get more click-throughs:
The 7-Step Process Your Competitor Is Using to Build Backlinks
12 Reasons Your Friend Lost His Weight & You Didn’t
35% Off On the Best SEO Tool You Always Wanted to Use
This Article Proves Your Business Is Losing Money
These were some examples of using FOMO in your headlines. Utilizing FOMO works because many people don’t want to miss out on something they don’t know about.
Key takeaway: Use FOMO to evoke curiosity among the readers so that they click and read your content.
6. Use Power Words (And Also Sensory Words)
Power words are those words that inspire the reader to take some action. There are many power words you can use in your headlines.
Some of the most common power words are:
Apart from using power words, you can also use sensory words.
Yes, you heard me right! Sensory Words.
These are those words that appeal to your six senses. Using these words can help you create an emotional connection between you and the reader.
Some common sensory words you can use in your headlines are:
Key takeaway: Use power words and sensory words to create headlines that grab the attention of your reader.
7. Use Negative Superlatives (Yes, Negative!)
Negative terms in your headline are more powerful than positive terms. The research done by Outbrain shows that negative superlatives performed 30% better than positive ones.
So instead of using “The best SEO advice you must follow in 2016” as an article headline, use this new one that contains a negative superlative:
“The worst SEO advice you will ever find on the Internet!”
There are many negative terms you can incorporate in your headlines to make them perform better. Here are some of these terms:
Key takeaway: Use negative terms to make your headlines perform better.
8. Use Experts in Your Headlines
Mentioning experts in your headlines will get you more traffic and shares. Why?
Because anyone who follows the expert you mentioned will probably read your content. And if your content is really great, you will probably get a share. Yay!
But how to use experts in your headlines?
One way of doing is just by using the word “expert” in your headlines. Some examples are:
The #1 SEO Tool Experts Use
7 Link Building Techniques Even Experts Are Hiding from You
Worst SEO Advice Experts Ever Gave You!
If you look at the last headline, I used a negative superlative. 😉
If you think this tactic doesn’t work, check this out:
I published a detailed case study of the keywords the top internet marketing experts like Neil Patel, Brian Dean and Darren Rowse are ranked on Google.
This piece of content generated a lot of traffic and got a decent amount of shares. The content itself is worth reading but the headline did everything.
You can even change this headline and make it controversial to get more traffic, shares and juicy links. Here are some headline ideas for this content:
10 Internet Marketing Experts Exposed: Steal Their Keywords Now!
Read This Article and Steal Brian Dean’s Website Traffic Now
Now, you may have an idea of how to use experts in your headlines. Here are some more headline ideas:
The Best Entrepreneurship Advice Gary Vaynerchuk Ever Gave Me
7 Things I Learned from Neil Patel About Content Marketing
The Hidden Link Building Technique Brian Dean Never Shared with Us
Before you use experts in your headlines, be careful. If your content is not good, your headline can backfire on you.
And you’ll notice your comments section filled with criticism.
Key Takeaway: Mentioning an expert in your headline can help you get more traffic and shares. Stay away from writing a controversial headline.
9. Tell Readers About the Content Format
You can mention the content format in your headline to increase click-throughs. If your content is an infographic, mention it in your headline.
10. Use The Flagging Technique
Address the readers by using Dan Kennedy’s flagging technique. This means including ‘you’ word in your headlines.
Moreover, you can isolate your headline to narrow it down to an intended reader. Some examples are:
For Part-time bloggers: 8 time-saving tools you can use for free
Graphic Designers: How to start your own website and get projects
Serious Marketers Only: Get More Traffic to Your Website Now by Following These 7 Steps
Key Takeaway: Use the flagging technique to create headlines that directly address the reader.
11. Add Punctuation
Including a hyphen or a colon before your target keyword will improve your headline. Here are some examples:
According to Content Marketing Institute, using a hyphen or a colon in your headline can increase your click-through rate by 9%.
Key takeaway: Include a hyphen or a colon in your headlines to increase your click-through rate.
12. Never Forget to Update Your Headline When You Update an Old Post
Whenever you update an old post, include ‘updated’ in your headline. This will get you more traffic because the reader will surely want to read fresh and new content.
If your article has year number included, update the post headline when the next year begins. So if you have an article titled as ’27 best link building techniques for 2016’, update your headline and change the year to 2017 when the next year begins.
Key Takeaway: Always update the headlines of your old posts when you update them.
13. Use The SHINE Approach to Make Your Headlines Shine
The SHINE formula will help you make your headlines stand out. This acronym stands for:
S – Specificity
H – Helpfulness
I – Immediacy
N – Newsworthiness
E – Entertainment Value
This approach will help you create headlines that drive more traffic and shares. There are many more formulas to create compelling headlines.
Another formula that is used widely is:
number/trigger + adjective + keyword + promise
Key Takeaway: Use different approaches and formulas to create headlines. Test different formulas and stick to the one that brings the best results.
Bonus Tip #14. Use CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to Create Stunning Headlines
If you are struggling to create attention-grabbing headlines, use CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer. All you need to do is enter your headline and this awesome tool will show you the headline score.
Let me walk you through this tool.
Head over to CoSchedule Headline Analyzer and enter your headline. Let’s test this headline: ‘The #1 SEO Advice No One Ever Gave You’.
Here are the results of our analysis. The headline got 71 score which is not so bad.
The best part of this tool is that it gives you more details about the headline with tips to improve the headline.
Let us now take a look at the word balance of our tested headline.
The headline is common, powerful and emotional too. To make your headline stand out, you need the perfect mix of common, uncommon, power and emotional words.
Here is a word balance of our headline:
This tool also shows you if your headline has the right length. Check it out:
The headline is 37 characters long and contains 9 words which mean it will be easily visible on the search engines.
There are many more features in this free headline analysis by CoSchedule. If you weren’t aware of this tool, start using it now to test out each and every headline.
Wrapping It Up
One last tip is that whenever you are publishing a new piece of content, create around 15-20 headlines and test them out using the headline analyzer.
Then plug the collected data in a spreadsheet and choose the perfect headline. This way, your headlines will improve slowly and you will be able to write headlines that don’t suck.
If you found this article helpful, do leave your comment and let me know what you think. Also, hit the share button if you don’t want others to write bad headlines.