What could be worse than this if your blog post ranks in the top 10 of Google search results, but not getting enough clicks as it should. Because you didn’t pay attention in writing click-worthy title for the blog posts.
This is a common mistake that happens to new bloggers as they don’t put the required emphasis in writing a click-worthy title for their blog posts. The popular site Copyblogger once said; 8 out of 10 people just read your headline, but 2 out of 10 actually clicks and read the content.
If your headline is not good enough to make someone click on it, then what’s the point of writing for hours in the first place? In this article, I am going to discuss a few tips that you can follow to write better headlines effortlessly.
However, keep in mind that there are infinite ways to compose a perfect headline, and you can easily get yourself lost in the sea of these endless recommendations. I did the same mistake at first and my advice would be to follow a few of the techniques you like and stick to them.
What makes a headline powerful?
The purpose of a headline is not just about describing the content, but over the years its evolved to a point where headlines are being served for the purpose of attracting more eyeballs.
Nowadays the increased competition in online business forces content-writers to put their best to compose headlines that are both shareable and extremely clickable. Often time it can be achieved by using a few powerful language structures that naturally influence the click-worthiness of such headlines.
Therefore, using the old and boring words that are dull and don’t establish any emotional impression on readers can not be called a powerful headline. You can recognize a powerful headline by its following features.
People love to click on a headline when it incorporates a number. In 2013, a study conducted by Moz found that the more specific a headline gets, the more clickable it becomes. Another research was done by the researchers at the University of Athens, in which they found that similar patterns in the reader’s behavior.
As content marketing is slowly moving towards a saturation point, we’re repeatedly seeing a lot of similar types of headlines popping up in the search results. The only way to cut through the competition is to be extremely specific with the help of numbers.
As you can see from the above chart, the headlines with numbers in them get 36% more clicks than others. Thus, It proves that people are inherently more inclined towards numbers and lists. One of the prime examples where we get to see the potency of such number-based headlines is Buzzfeed. They have successfully utilized such headlines to create a multi-million dollar business.
That’s why digital marketers love listicle articles over others. Because numbers make headlines much more authoritative and it provides a structure to the article which makes it easy to digest the content much faster for the readers.
Satisfies the right expectation of readers
I have seen many so-called “blogging gurus” advising to get headline inspiration from magazines, but the truth is it doesn’t work for online content, especially bloggers. Because magazines often use images of popular celebrities, with intriguing captions, and other tricks to tempt people into reading the entire story. But it’s not the same case here for online content.
Because unlike a magazine front page, a title of a blog post can not display such additional information in heap of search results to captivate the reader’s attention. Also, most of the time people use the internet to just find the answers to their problems or queries. They don’t Google for the sole purpose of entertainment like they do when looking for a good magazine to read.
A great headline gives a clear understanding of the content. Therefore, writing headlines without giving a clear context of the article can leave the readers confused. Thus, always write headlines that provide a glimpse of what the readers are going to get from the article, even by a quick scanning over the headline should able to grab the attention.
But don’t try to be over smart and trick readers to click on the title. The clickbaity titles do more harm than good, also people don’t like them as well. If the reader’s expectations aren’t met with the content once they click on the headline, they will never come back to your blog again.
So, the general rule of thumb is to stay away from writing ambiguous headlines for your blog posts and write those that can satisfy the reader’s expectations.
The attention span of people is nowadays decreasing rapidly thanks to the easy accessibility of contents on the internet. People now have the power to find whatever they’re looking for in just a few minutes, but the same power also made them very impatient.
But one thing that has not changed since the birth of the human race is the never-ending quest to discover the “why” of our existence. In simple words, the human mind is forever curious. Advertisers have taken advantage of this very nature of human psychology to craft headlines that naturally arouse the curiosity of potential readers. Although writing such headlines is very tricky.
Usually, headlines that generate curiosity in the reader’s mind claims something that seems unusual or highly remarkable in some way. Such headlines often target the deep-rooted concern of the readers and force them to question their existing knowledge on that particular topic.
Here are some examples of such headlines.
- Are you being fair to those you love the most?
- Why dumb people make more money than you?
When writing such curiosity headlines you should never satisfy the curiosity of the readers with the headline alone, rather tease out the reader’s curiosity in stages.
Creates a sense of urgency
People often delay taking action on a decision they don’t enjoy or hesitate about. So, to make readers click on our headline we must incorporate a sense of urgency in our writing. Every content marketer believes that urgency is the most crucial element of a sales funnel, and surely it is.
Because a sense of urgency advocates potential customers to take action immediately by assigning a deadline. Another way to emphasize urgency in the headline could be achieved by adding a sense of scarcity.
Here are some examples of such headlines.
- Follow these pregnancy precautions before it’s too late.
- 5 books you must read before you die.
Incorporates negative sentiments
We have seen many times that people tend to get attracted more towards the opposite of what they are supposed to do. For example, if a person is told to not look in a certain direction, the person will start to have an irresistible motivation to look in that direction.
We don’t know why this happens, but this unnatural flaw in human psychology has given the power to content writers to write headlines, that unknowingly motivate the readers to take the opposite action of what they’re originally instructed. A study published by the OutBrain in 2013 discussed this incident. In that study, they sampled 65,000+ paid link titles in their ad networks and run a test.
In that test, they found that headlines with positive superlatives always performed 29% worse than the headline without them. The original source page has been removed but the business2community has written an article discussing this study in more detail. No one truly knows why people gravitate toward the negative side of the emotional spectrum, but there are a few theories that explain the reasons.
Here are some examples of headlines with a negative sentiment.
Contains the focus keywords
From an SEO standpoint headlines without containing the focus keyword is for no use. Although the search engines have become more intelligent in understanding the context of the headline, still the keyword placement plays a vital role in SERP.
Readers are more likely to click on a headline that includes the keywords they are searching for than the one without it. Because the focus keywords are the subject of the article and it tells the reader what they are going to find in the article.
So, the bottom line is keyword placement holds an important factor in SEO. However, it does not mean we should optimize our headlines just for the search engine alone, but for the readers as well. Because it speaks the language of the audience, thus attracts more readers and clicks to our blog posts.
Uses parentheses or brackets
Many top-rated copywriters often use parentheses and brackets to make engaging content and headlines are no exception either. Also, a study conducted by Outbrain and Hubspot over 3.3 million paid links shows that headlines with brackets perform 38% better than headlines without them. However, they have removed the page in case you want to read the source article.
It has seen that adding a few extra words within parentheses increases the credibility and authority of the headline. One reason could be, it generates a sense of curiosity in the headline which lacks otherwise. Sites like Buzzfeed uses this technique a lot in their headline.
Just take a look at a few examples of such headlines.
Controversial headlines could a powerful weapon if use correctly. The headlines of such types create a strong irresistible gut feeling in the audience, that they can’t control themself to clicking on it. It happens to all of us, don’t you think? But if you go with such controversial headlines, you better deliver what readers are looking for. Otherwise, you’d be letting your readers down. Which is not a good thing.
Although as a blogger I don’t recommend you to write a strong controversial headline just for a shake of getting more clicks. It could easily do more harm than good to your blog. This type of headline works best for the bigger authoritative sites with a large number of daily readers.
Most people on the internet come only to look for answers to their problems or queries. Thus, headlines that resemble a question get much more clicks and attention. Because those headlines resonate with the audience by being relevant to their queries.
When writing such headlines, always keep in mind that headlines that can easily answer could not perform any better than others. So, write something that will provoke thought and generate curiosity.
Although there are many types of question-based headlines you can use for your next blog posts, but the classic how-to question is by the most effective and delivers results every time. These headlines are proven to increase engagement in crowded search results. The best part of such headlines is they don’t even need to start with the word “how-to” to be a how-to headline. Isn’t that funny?
Free tools you can use
Now that we have discussed the most common types of headlines and their benefits, let’s take a look at the free tools that could help you to find a lot of high-quality headline ideas in just a few minutes.
Inbound Now’s Headline Generator
This is by far the most effective tool I used to get high-quality headline ideas for my blog posts. It’s free and simple to use.
It basically gives a structure of a sample headline with gaps in between words that you can fill in with your keywords. Just press on the “Click to generate another title idea” and it will generate unlimited numbers of headline ideas.
SEO Pressor Blog Title Generator
This is a free tool offered by the same company that developed the SEOProssor Plugin for WordPress.
Now, this tool has a feature that you can not find anywhere else, and that is it has a dedicated “description indicator” where you can pick the most accurate description of your seed keywords.
Coming up with a great headline is one of the skills that helped me to boost the CTR as well as an increase in a higher ranking in SERP. Keep in mind that writing compelling headlines for blog posts requires a skill, and like with any skill, you need to practice it in order to get good at it. Remember it won’t come easy to master the skill overnight. So, have patience and learn from others.