‘A really excellent headline can make something go viral.’
The same Wired Magazine article also highlighted that a great headline can increase traffic up to 500 percent.
This statement makes headlines ever more important. When I started my blog, one of the first problems I encountered was coming up with catchy headlines.
The only thing I was good at was writing boring ones.
Here’s the traffic chart from my early blogging days.
1,500 to 2,000 views a month is obviously not impressive, considering the fact that I’m in a highly competitive niche; that is SEO and digital marketing. Even though I worked hard on the content, the headlines were just not cutting it.
From the past three years, I have been continuously experimenting with new headlines, different blog styles, long vs. short content and many other elements, and I’ve come to know this; whether your content is good or great, if your headlines are not magnetic, you are likely to have a very hard time attracting your readers.
This does not mean that you should ignore your blog content, or be any less thorough with it. But if your content is powerful and has a dull and uninteresting headline, then people are sure to miss the article altogether.
Now, the next logical question is; how to write catchy headlines that attract your target audience?
There are many different ways of doing that. Many people prefer writing the post first and on basis of that, create the headline, while many others prefer to do it the other way around. They start with the title and then write the content, tweaking the headline later to fit the bill.
Before we go deeper into the process of writing the headlines, let’s first understand what a catchy, magnetic headline looks like!
Example 1: If you are cooking, you need to watch this.
Example 2: Six Ideas to write a perfect blogpost. #4 is my personal favorite.
Example 3: What your Starbucks order says about you.
The examples discussed above may not be perfect, but they can pique a reader’s curiosity to the blogger’s benefit.
Here, I’ve listed a few ideas that will help you create attractive headlines that will compel readers to click!
It should solve a problem
This one is so simple, it’s almost too easy to ignore. People search the web, use Google, social media and other sources of information, because most of the times they are looking for a solution to some problem, or trying to find an answer to a question. Always keep this in mind when writing a post or creating headlines.
If your headline assures the audience that the content they are about to open has the solution to their problem, or can answer their questions, they will click on it without wasting a second.
When crafting your headlines, this should be your number one rule. Your headline should underscore that you have what the audience is looking for.
Your opinions matter
All over the web, people are writing hundreds of thousands of content posts every day in all possible niches you could imagine.
Standing out among the crowd has become increasingly difficult, but you can always create new opinions (and ideas) around similar subjects that people are talking about, and chances are that you will be able to grab a lot of eyeballs.
Google has recently instructed bloggers to no-follow links if they are writing reviews on products that they received from companies and manufacturers. Now this is the latest news, but your opinion on this could make you stand out from the rest, allowing you to cater to the right kind of people.
When writing headlines, make sure that they clarify that your article is an opinion piece on a given subject. Try to begin your titles with ‘why, what, or how’.
Unique data is priceless
Another interesting idea is to use unique data within your blog and create headlines in a way that makes it perfectly clear to all readers what they are going to find within the post. Readers, in general, love data and latest studies, but if you are going to use a study conducted by someone else, you might not get the kind of attention that you expect.
The idea is to research and understand the ‘hot’ questions within your industry, and then conduct some surveys to generate the data to back your answers.
Most people who include unique data, but fail to create impressive headlines will not get the kind of traction they deserve.
The idea is to create headlines that clearly show how you are different from the rest, and your chances of winning the game will be higher than ever.
Example: Is guest blogging a viable tactic for business development? A data-backed answer.
The above-mentioned example clearly explains what the article is about and the kind of questions it answers. This will grab the attention of the audience and make them click on the post.
Don’t forget to include humor
Pun works! Whether you personally like it or not, the audience does. Let’s do a quick test. Open your Facebook feed and start scanning. Observe where you stop and click. In most cases, it will be a joke or a headline that uses humor.
Although it works like magic, sometimes it can also backfire if you don’t understand your target persona well. So, my advice to you is to understand your target audience well, and when using puns, try to keep them as simple as possible for everyone to understand easily.
If you are Neil Patel’s fan, you would have already seen these kinds of headlines on his blog from time to time. Many others are also using these tricks. Here is how an exaggerated headline look like:
Headlines should exaggerate, but not mislead. Take the extreme or most ideal outcome of your post and express it in the headline.
When people search for something online, they all have a purpose, and when you create your headline in a way that helps them fulfil their purpose or achieve their goal, they tend to stop, click and read the post.
On the other hand, if you purposefully try to mislead the audience, you might end up witnessing a huge bounce rate, with people negatively discussing you that can hurt your reputation.
Now we know what to consider when creating headlines for blog posts, articles and when writing tweets and Facebook posts. Now the question is what kind of headline does your audience prefer? Should you focus more on number post or exaggerated headlines?
Obviously, the best answer to the above discussed questions can be found via data. Conductor did a great study on a similar subject that I want to refer to answer these (and similar) questions.
What kind of headline works well with the audience?
There are multiple headline ideas that resonate with the audience. There are headlines that start with a number, the “how to” headlines are also very famous and then there are headlines that start with a question, among other types. Conductor’s quick study on the subject and the chart below explain he concept in more detail.
According to the study, the ‘number’ headlines have the best performance rate. And then there are headlines that address the reader, how-tos, normal ones and questions.
But, the success rate of your chosen headline also depends on the kind of audience you are talking to. If your business is mainly catering to a male audience, the number headlines might not work as well as they do with a female audience. Take a look!
Writing compelling headlines that encourage a high click rate are very important for your business. Here are some takeaways from the article; Write headlines that answers all of the readers’ questions. For instance, if your blog post is about tips to increase blog traffic, then your headline should indicate exactly what a reader would find within the post, whether it is tips, a secret formula, or data driven answers.
Write headlines that solve a problem or answer a question. People all over the world, search the internet for billions of subjects and mostly because they are looking to get some answers. Give them what they are looking for.
When creating headlines, try to understand human psychology and then use your knowledge to encourage people to click. According to Conductor, headlines with numbers resonate best with the audience. Next time when you create headlines, try using some of these ideas and see how it goes for you.
If you have already tried any of these ideas, please share your results with us in the comment section.
At SEtalks, we convince search engines to talk about our client’s businesses. Via our upbeat strategies and innovative techniques, we strengthen the online presence for businesses. We work on the motto “We win only when our clients do.”