Do you want to get lots of clicks and shares on your content? If so, you need to know how to write headlines that grab the audience’s attention.
The headline, after all, is the first thing people notice in any piece of content.
Picture this. You do a Google search about traveling to Iceland. The search query returns hundreds of results.
As you are scrolling down the list, one of the articles catches your eye. Why?
Because it has a catchy headline.
A well-written headline makes you want to read on. It makes a promise and piques your curiosity to see whether it will deliver on that promise.
That’s why catchy headlines get the most clicks.
If you want your readers' attention, you need to know how to write headlines that catch their eye.
In this article, we have compiled some of the top tips for writing captivating headlines that keep your readers engaged.
Table of Contents
Why are Headlines Important?
The Internet today is flooded with content. Your audience is scanning through headlines, clicking on a few, and dismissing the rest.
Headlines are the first thing people see and they’re often the key deciding factor on whether someone will read your content or not.
Most people won’t even bother to click on a SERP result if they don’t find the headline relevant. If you want to earn that click, you need to write great headlines!
The more clicks your article gets, the more web traffic is directed to your website. This can result in improved SEO metrics (like dwell time) and higher conversions.
You may spend hours writing the perfect blog post, but if your headline is not catchy enough you may not find any readers.
Top 10 Tips on How to Write Headlines That Engage Readers
Did you know nearly 7 million blog posts get published every day?
With so much content, it is easy for an article to get lost. But not with a powerful headline.
Here are some tried and tested tips to help you write irresistible headlines that get the maximum clicks.
1. Use Numbers and Data
Using numbers in your headlines is an easy way to attract your readers. Numbers in headlines can significantly improve your click-through rates.
Here are a few headline examples with numbers:
- 10 dog breeds your kids will absolutely love
- Tips to increase your web traffic by 50%
- 5 countries you must visit at least once in your life
Another thing to note. Spelling out the number is not as effective as the number itself. So, 5 works better than “Five.”
Why do numbers and data work so well?
Because they promise something specific. You know the number of points or tips you are getting. If you don’t like a point, you can always move on to the next. You know exactly what to expect.
Using numbers does not mean that you need to write a listicle post. Statistics or data in a headline show that your article is supported by research. It increases credibility.
The human brain likes numbers because it is easier to organize information in a logical order.
Numbers are indeed powerful. That’s why popular blogging sites like HubSpot and Buzzfeed use numbers in their headlines.
Image Source: Buzzfeed
Image Source: HubSpot
2. Ask a Question
Adding a question in your headline has a psychological effect on the minds of your readers. They can either answer the question or wonder about it. In both cases, it draws attention to your headline.
Another benefit of question-type headlines is that they’re great for SEO.
Search engines like Google focus on the meaning of a query rather than the combination of words. A complete question in the headline helps Google understand how useful a particular article is.
That’s not all.
According to stats from Insider Intelligence, 123.5 million people in the US use a voice assistant at least once a month.
People naturally ask a complete question when doing a voice search. Using question-type headlines helps Google and other search engines understand your content and show it for relevant search queries.
Here are a couple of examples of question-type headlines:
Image Source: Attrock
Image Source: Attrock
3. Understand What Your Readers Want
Why do you click on certain articles and not others? Either the headline is catchy and piques your curiosity or it looks relevant and promises to provide the information you seek, right?
If you want your audience to read a post, you need to give them a reason why they should.
Put yourself in your readers' shoes. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” If the answer does not jump off the page, you are headed in the wrong direction.
Understanding your audience will help you figure out what your audience is looking for. You can use Google Keyword Planner to identify the most searched terms used by your target audience.
Give your readers what they are looking for. Highlight the most irresistible part of your content in your headline.
Here are some great headline examples that make a specific promise and are also engaging:
- Top 5 Tips to Write Blogs Like a Pro
- 10 Facts About Content Marketing No One Tells You
- 7 Ways to Design the Perfect Landing Page
4. Make Your Readers Curious
The purpose of the headline is to encourage the reader to read your content. That’s why your headline should be powerful enough to grab attention.
With so much content available online, how do you ensure that your content draws attention? Start by writing a headline that piques a reader’s curiosity.
The simplest way to make your readers curious is to share a small piece of information in your headline. When people know a bit, they will want to know more.
Highlight something that your readers don’t know yet, and they will want to click to find out more.
- 7 Countries You Can Travel to for Free
- Do You Have What It Takes to Freelance?
Adding an element of surprise to your headline could also make your readers curious enough to click. Consider this headline:
- 5 Ways Chocolate Can Help You Lose Weight
Most people don’t exactly consider chocolates as diet-friendly. Most of them would be surprised to know that chocolate could aid weight loss. This may encourage them to click to know “how.”
You only have a couple of seconds to capture your readers’ attention. That’s why your headline must connect with the reader. If they are intrigued by the headline, they are more likely to click.
Here are some more examples of headlines that evoke curiosity:
Image Source: MIT Sloan
Image Source: The Economist
5. Make a Bold Statement
Bizarre or shocking headlines almost always catch people’s eye. Introducing a shock factor in your headlines could significantly increase the number of clicks your content gets.
A bold statement instantly draws readers in. You may also consider using an opinionated or controversial headline.
However, your content needs to be relevant. Remember, clickbait hurts your credibility.
Here are some examples:
- These Outdated Fashion Hacks Aren’t Worth Your Time
- Are Smartphones Poisoning Children's Minds?
- 6 Steps to Become a Millionaire by 30
6. Keep It Short
When writing headlines, have you ever wondered about the length of your headline? How long should your headline be?
Well, the ideal length depends on the platform on which you’ll share your content.
If you are writing for your website and want your post to show up on Google search results. If so, you should try and keep it within 60 characters.
A long headline will eventually be chopped off on Google, as shown below.
Do you see how the headlines get truncated? If this happens with yours, it may confuse the readers.
What should the length be if you are writing for your social media pages on Facebook or Twitter? According to a study, the ideal headline length was found to be 65 characters.
A clear and concise headline helps to draw more attention.
7. Use Your Target Keyword in the Beginning
A target keyword is a word or a phrase that best summarizes what your content is all about. Why should you put it at the beginning of your headline?
Because it gives you keyword prominence. Keyword prominence is an SEO best practice. It sends a strong signal to a search engine about what your page should rank for.
An effective headline is one that works well for a reader as well as a search engine. A simple trick you can use is adding a colon. You can get keyword prominence and leverage human psychology at the same time.
Look at the image below.
The target keyword here is “Keyword Research.” Both these headlines have the target keyword at the beginning of the headline. This gives them keyword prominence.
You can add more words after the colon to tell the readers what they’ll learn or who the post is meant for. The first headline, for example, appeals to beginners who want to learn how to do keyword research.
8. Use Interesting Adjectives
Using adjectives is a good practice to follow in headline writing. Adjectives display emotion and are very helpful in keeping your audience engaged and interested.
The use of adjectives can make a headline more attractive to a reader. It can also give your headline a boost.
Here are a few adjectives you can use in your headlines:
These are just a few. There are many more adjectives that you can use in headline writing.
Here is a headline example that uses the adjective “Fun.”
Image Source: Parents
Have you heard of power words? These are words that trigger an emotional response. They are called power words because people can't resist being influenced by them.
Using power words is a simple way to write powerful headlines.
Here are a few examples:
- 10 Best Ways to Get Rich
- 3 Outrageous Diets You Must Avoid
The purpose of using power words is to increase the conversion rate for your content.
Appealing to the reader’s emotions helps boost sales and shares. When you appeal to your audience emotionally, they are also more likely to trust you.
9. Create a Sense of Urgency
Do you want more readers to read your content? Then you must create a sense of urgency. Without it, your readers may just put off reading your content.
Your readers need a nudge to read your article now, and not bookmark it for later. That’s what your headline can do when you use urgency in headline writing.
Creating urgency is a common tactic used by marketers to boost sales. When you read things like “Only 2 left in stock” or “ Last day today,” it makes it seem urgent.
It makes you want to act now. This is exactly what your headline needs to do.
Headlines that create a sense of urgency always grab attention. You can create urgency by setting a deadline. A deadline encourages people to act now instead of later. For example:
- Download Your Free E-Book Now Before Prices Increase Tonight
Another way to create urgency is to let people know that they will miss out on something amazing if they don’t act now. Here is an example:
- Read This Before You Buy Your Next Car
You can also create urgency by presenting your content as a solution to a recurring problem. For example:
- Are You Losing Customers By Giving Too Many Choices?
- 13 Car Problems You Will Regret Ignoring
10. Use Headline Formulas
The formula refers to the structure of the headline. Content writers and marketers use many formulas to write great headlines.
Some writers prefer to write the content first, and then think about a good headline. Others write the headline first and then the content. There is no hard and fast rule. You do what works best for you.
There are many headline formulas used by writers and marketers. Here are a few:
The “How to” Formula
This headline formula is about teaching your readers how to achieve the desired outcome.
- How to Increase Your Stamina?
- How to Monetize Your YouTube Channel?
The “Mistakes” Formula
If you knew you were making some mistakes, you would be curious to know more. Wouldn’t you? You would, of course, want to avoid these mistakes.
The Mistakes Formula leverages this human emotion.
- 5 Mistakes You Are Making When Washing Your Hair
- Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Buying a New Car
The “Hacks” Formula
Let’s admit it. People love hacks.
Life hacks, makeup hacks, and even cooking hacks have one thing in common. They increase productivity and efficiency.
So, why not use it in your headline too?
Here are a couple of examples:
- 15 Amazing Hacks to Save More Money
- 5 Useful Hacks to Clean Like a Pro
There are many more headline formulas. You may use whatever works for you.
How Do You Analyze Your Headlines?
Do you have tons of existing content and want to audit the headlines to see if they’re good or not?
You can do that by checking some key elements that make a headline great.
Here are a few things to check:
- Length: Keep your headlines under 60 characters to drive more clicks and ensure that it does not get cut off
- Balance: Strike a balance between common, uncommon, and power or emotional words
- Power Words: These words can make your headlines stand out from the rest
- Numbers: Adding numbers or data to your headlines help to capture attention
- Type: Use headline types like “how-to guides” and “listicles” that typically get more clicks
- Sentiment: Write headlines that evoke positive emotions in the readers
Besides the above, there are many other factors that go into making great headlines. Analyzing them one by one may be very time-consuming.
So, what is a quick and easy way to analyze your headlines? Simple. Use a headline analyzer tool.
There are many headline analyzer tools available online. Here is our list of the best headline analyzer tools you can use.
These will also help you create great headlines for all your future content and ensure that your content gets the views it derives.
Things to Remember When Writing Headlines
Headline writing is a science as much as it is an art. We have shared some headline writing tips above to help you write compelling headlines.
However, you should also remember some dos and don’ts.
Write in the Active Voice
You should always use active voice to write headlines. Why? Because it reads better and helps you get to the point quickly.
Here is an example.
Active voice: Local Man Wins Lottery
Passive voice: Lottery Won By Local Man
Which one sounds like a better headline? The one in the active voice, right?
If you want a powerful headline that improves conversion rates, avoid writing in the passive voice.
Add Some Flair
If you keep using the same verbs, it will eventually become boring for your readers. Review your headlines and try to add some flair.
For instance, instead of using the verb “to be,” try replacing it with something punchier. Here is an example.
The Matrix Returns: Fourth Film is Expected to Be Full Of Action
You can replace this with:
The Matrix Returns: Why The Latest Instalment Exceeds Expectations?
The average person sees many similar headlines on the Internet every day. Adding a flair and making them unique helps them take notice of your headlines.
Avoid Boring Headlines
“Microsoft Stock Prices Continue to Climb”
Read the above headline. What do you think is going through the reader’s mind?
The reader thinks that there’s nothing new happening here. Microsoft has been doing well. So, it is obvious that their stock prices would go up.
If you state the obvious, your readers may just skip the article. You don’t want that to happen.
What if you replaced it with “ Microsoft Stock Prices Increase 50% in 15 Days”
Now, it sounds interesting.
Your article could contain valuable information. However, if the headline is not exciting enough, no one may want to read it.
So, how do you make them exciting? You could use a trending topic or create urgency. An element of conflict could also make your headline more interesting.
Here are a few examples:
- Use trending topics: Metaverse: What’s in it for You?
- Add urgency: Everything You Need to Know About The Crypto Boom Now
- Add an element of conflict: Bitcoin Vs Ethereum: Which Will Do Better in 2024?
Q1. What are the different types of headlines?
A. There are many different types of headlines, such as:
- Direct headlines
- Indirect headlines
- Question headlines
- Emotional headlines
- How-to headlines
Q2. What are the characteristics of a great headline?
A. Here are the key characteristics of a great headline:
- Length: Your headline should ideally be under 60 characters.
- Balance: A balance of common and uncommon words.
- Power Words: Use of power words encourages action.
- Numbers: Numbers or statistics to boost credibility.
- Type: How-to and listicle posts garner more clicks.
- Sentiment: Headlines with positive sentiment perform better.
Q3. What is the purpose of headlines?
A. The purpose of a headline is to quickly and briefly draw attention to the story. It is extremely important because it determines whether or not your readers are going to read your content.
Q4. What not to do when writing headlines?
A. Here is what you should not do when writing headlines:
- Not keeping your audience in mind
- Writing in the passive voice
- Making the headline too wordy
- Giving away more information than you should
Q5. How can you write great headlines?
A. The following tips can help you write a great headline:
- Use numbers and data
- Ask a question
- Understand what your audience wants
- Make your readers curious
- Make a bold statement
- Keep it short
- Use the target keyword, in the beginning
- Use interesting adjectives
- Create a sense of urgency
- Use headline formulas
Q6. Should you be “clear” or “clever” when writing headlines?
A. Clear and easy-to-understand headlines work the best. “Clever” headlines may create ambiguity which may confuse your readers.
Q7. Do headlines matter for SEO?
A. Using the target keyword at the beginning of your headline is good for SEO. However, it is never a good idea to keyword stuff your headline. Your headlines should be written keeping both the readers and search engines in mind.
Q8. How do you make headlines SEO-friendly?
A. These great tips can help you make your headline SEO-friendly:
- Include keywords
- Use emotional words
- Understand the target audience
- Use strong adjectives
- Keep the length under 60 characters
Q9. How do you write a strong headline?
A. Here’s how you can write a strong headline:
- Make it unique
- Be specific
- Convey a sense of urgency
- Provide something of value
Q10. How to find the right keywords for your headlines?
A. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and Semrush help you identify the most-searched keywords for your target audience. You can use these keywords in your headlines to earn more clicks.
Content marketing is more important now than ever before. Marketers today understand the importance of great content. The headline is the most important part of your content.
If your headline is not engaging or clickable enough, all your other content creation efforts will fail.
We hope the above headline writing tips will help you write amazing headlines. Do you have any other tips about how to write headlines? Please share them in the comments section below.