No matter how great your business is or how beautiful your website looks, if you don't write headlines that drive traffic, no one will be around to read them...
Headlines are everywhere from social media to email marketing to videos. Killer headlines aren’t just something that are nice to have – they are crucial to the success of your blog. According to Copyblogger, 80% of your visitors will read a headline, but only 20% will read your article. Scary right? Well, that’s why knowing how to write headlines that drive traffic to your article is so important – to encourage your visitors to stick around and keep reading.
What is a headline?
First things first, let’s answer the question: what even is a headline? A headline is the main title right at the top of your blog post that tells the reader exactly what your article is about. This is different to your SEO Title, which is visible only on the search engine results page.
Unlike SEO Titles, headlines aren’t just about getting clicks. Instead, headlines are all about keeping the reader on your page, without bouncing. Headlines are there to outline the content of your article, and to tell the reader that yes, this is exactly the content you were looking for, and this is why you should keep reading. This is how you can lower your Bounce Rate.
So, to help you write your own killer headline and engage your site’s visitors, here are our top tips to crafting a captivating headline for your next blog post. Also read our guide about SEO tips to increase traffic.
HOW TO WRITE A WINNING HEADLINE
1. Use a basic formula
While headlines in print newspapers are one thing, writing headlines for digital is a science. Luckily for all bloggers and online businesses, some clever folk have crafted foolproof formulas to write the perfect headline. While there are plenty of formulas out there, they all follow a similar pattern: start with a number, trigger word or a solution, followed by an interesting adjective or adverb, add on your keyword, and finish with a promise. It should look something like this:
Trigger Word or Number or Solution + Adverb or Adjective + Keyword + Promise.
e.g. How to + easily + rank on Google + without buying ads.
By using this framework, you’ve got yourself a great starting point for writing a headline that’s both gripping and informative. So, now you’ve got a formula, let’s get stuck into the nitty-gritty…
Caveat: this is what works right now, as search engine algorithms change, so do these formulas and the way people read information online, but we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest changes right here.
2. Be clear about the content and ‘what’s in it for the reader’
These days, no one has time to read long-winded paragraphs to decode an article, so you want to be clear about your topic in the headline, and most importantly, show the reader what’s in it for them. After all, they’re searching the web because they need something, whether it’s an answer to a question, an easy dinner recipe, a guide to Bali’s neighbourhoods, or even tips on starting a business. So whatever it is you’re offering, make it clear, and let the reader know that by the end of the article, they will have exactly what they need.
3. Don’t be deceiving
In your headline, it’s important not to make any false promises. If your headline promises SEO hacks but offers something different, then your reader will quickly bounce from your page and visit one that can deliver on the promise. This sends a message to Google that your page is not reliable or trustworthy, and it will heavily affect your ranking (in a bad way!). So to avoid high Bounce Rates, it is always important to deliver on your promise and not deceive your reader. Click bait doesn’t work in the long run, people.
4. Use your keyword – but don’t over do it
It’s always good to use your SEO keywords in your headline – it’s one of the many places that Google crawls to judge the relevance of your article. But remember, headlines are for humans, not for robots, so don’t over-do it by keyword stuffing! By adding too many keywords, your writing sounds unnatural and awkward for the User Experience. The result? A big bounce.
5. Include specific numbers – especially odd numbers!
In-depth headline research has found that numbers and data are great for engaging readers – particularly odd numbers. It sounds strange, but you only need to take a look at Buzzfeed right now and I bet you’ll find plenty of headlines with odd numbers in them. In fact, in this section below, all five headlines feature numbers, and the majority are odd. Readers also seem to like numbers divisible by 5, i.e ending in 0 or 5 (like Top 10,15, or 20 etc)
6. Choose powerful trigger words
Just like numbers, certain trigger words have been found to be more effective than others. The most popular trigger word is “How To”, as well as “Free”, “Why”, “New” and “Easy” – to name just a few. You’ll then want to pair these trigger words with interesting adjectives or adverbs. For example, “How to effortlessly grow your business” sounds a lot better than just “How to grow your business”. And as a bonus tip, try tagging on negating words or phrases, like “How to effortlessly grow your business without spending money”, or “Stop making these common mistakes when growing your business”. These small differences can have big effects.
7. Draw the reader in with your headline (but don’t give everything away)
If you give all the answers away in your headline, there is no reason for the reader to stick around and read your whole article. Essentially, you are trying to ‘hook’ the reader in with the headline, before pointing them to the body text.
8. Make sure your headline is unique
One way you can make sure your headline is unique is to search for the headline in Google. To do this, pop your headline into Google with quotation marks, and see what the results are. Here is my example for this post – I can clearly see that no one else has the same headline as this article, so that’s a win!
9. Be very specific
Readers won’t stick around or read your article if they have no idea what it’s about. Vague headlines are a big no-no. Readers need a very strong value proposition as to why they should spend time on your post, so be specific in your headline. For example the headline of this article “13 Tips: How to craft killer headlines for your blog (to drive crazy traffic!)” demonstrates clearly the benefit of this post: to drive insane amounts of traffic to your website!
10. Convey a sense of urgency
Many successful marketers believe that scarcity and urgency are two powerful motives that help customers move through the decision making process. The purpose of a headline is to get readers to read your article now . So give them a reason – something that suggests they will miss out if they don’t click through. For example, “Stop making these SEO mistakes with these must-know hacks”.
11. Make your content useful and provide a ‘value rationale’
All posts must help the reader in one way or another. So signal to your visitors that your content is useful by using buzzwords like ‘helpful’, ‘practical’, ‘handy’ and ‘value’ in your headline. You also want to give your readers some rationale as to why they should read your post. Some rationales might be: ‘secret’, ‘tips’, ‘ways’, ‘lessons’, ‘reasons’ or ‘ideas’. For example, “13 handy tips for bloggers when writing killer content”. You get the drift.
12. Fix it
If your headline isn’t working, don’t worry – you can fix it. It’s okay to change things up and see if your new headline improves your traffic and Bounce Rate. After all, that’s the beauty of digital marketing!
13. Learn from your competitors
To really make an impact on your reader, we recommend using some competitor listening tools to see what is working for your niche. Two that we love using are BuzzSumo and SocialAnimal. Take note of what your competitors headlines include and (don’t include!) and learn from them.