Your headline is your first impression, and if it’s not compelling you’ve already lost most of your potential audience. On average only 20% of people will look beyond your headline.
In the world of blogging you need to stand out and draw readers in. It takes more than great content and a compelling image; your headline is where it all begins.
There’s a Formula for Writing Great Headlines
The secret to great headlines is something most professional bloggers do – they use a specific formula that’s proven to drive more traffic. Luckily for us it’s pretty easy to emulate.
If you’re wondering why people aren’t flocking to your great content you need to take a look at your own headlines. Would they compel you to want to read more? Do they promise to answer a question? If your headline isn’t promising your reader something of value chances are they’re not going to even visit your blog to begin with.
Blogger’s can easily burn out. Most do within a few months because they don’t see any return on their investment. The most important part of your blog is your headlines; it’s the only way a new blog is likely to bring in any traffic.
If you see a boring headline from some blog you’ve never heard of are you going to click on it and check it out? Me either. But, if that same unknown blog has a great headline like “5 Blogging Mistakes You Need to Avoid” you’d at least consider it. I know I would. And if it delivers on it’s promise I’d even come back.
That’s how communities are formed. The first step is getting people to your blog, and the easiest way to get new readers is to write good headlines.
Don’t Get Lost In The Crowd
Lots of great content is skipped simply because the headline sucks. Your headline is likely your only chance to get people to your blog in the first place. In order to gain new readers you need to start writing great headlines.
There’s nothing worse than writing something epic and then watching it fall flat after you hit publish. Maybe you’re headline is too general or broad, or maybe it’s just dull. If you’ve got some posts that didn’t get the love they deserve bring life back into them by rewriting the headline.
Take a look at your Twitter or Facebook feed; do you click on every headline? Which ones are your most likely to click on? Start analyzing other people’s headlines to see what makes them compelling. Make a habit of taking mental notes on the links you click; you’ll start to see a pattern of what appeals to you. And remember you’re not alone – if it appeals to you it’s likely going to appeal to many others as well.
A Boring Headline Doesn’t Attract Anyone
As I mentioned above you might be sitting on a gold mine of great content but no one’s going to see it if your headlines don’t convert. People don’t click on boring headlines, they ignore them.
The trick is getting readers to your blog to begin with. Start today by making sure every headline you write from now on is damn good. If your headline is compelling enough the traffic will follow.
The more traffic you can generate the higher your chances of having your own content discovered and shared by others. You see where this is going – the better your headline the better your traffic.
Luckily there’s some proven formulas for writing great headlines that are readily available for you to use. It’s a bit awkward at first but once you’ve done it a few times it becomes like second nature, I promise. With all the resources available and a formula that’s proven to work there’s no excuse for writing bad headlines anymore.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Numbers
Have you ever wondered why so many blogger use numbers in their headlines? It’s because it works. Numbered lists are some of the most popular articles out there, and in terms of writing they’re pretty easy to create once you’ve got the hang of it. People read numbered lists because they know what to expect – it’s going to be an easy read.
Don’t discount list posts as fluff either. I now it’s easy to compare listicles to click-bait articles but there is a difference. A click bait article uses an enticing promise to get people onto the article – and then falls flat by not keeping it. As long as your content delivers what it says it’s going to it’s not click bait.
When it comes to numbers there are some differences. Higher numbers seem to do better but it’s not a large enough different to matter much. If you’re writing a blog post that includes in depth reviews you should do just fine sticking with a lower number. If you’re writing a post of “great blog topic ideas” you can easily get a higher number. Some easy examples:
- 4 Plugins Every Blogger Needs
- 29 Quick & Easy Breakfast Ideas
- The 7 Best Weather Apps
- 150 Blog Post Ideas For The Uninspired
Use Great Adjectives
Whether your headline focuses on the positive or negative side of things using an interesting adjective will compel your audience to read on. If you’re looking for some inspiration here’s a great list of the top 500 adjectives used in the English vocabulary. My personal favorites to use are:
Pair your great adjective with your number from earlier and you’re off to a great start:
- 37 Effortless …
- 5 Essential…
- 11 Free…
Get Them Excited
Ok so maybe your words aren’t going to get someone as excited as someone who just won Jeopardy but the idea is the same. Emotions drive action. If you want people to read your article they need to feel like they’re going to get something out of it. People use the internet for many reasons but there’s always a great need for finding information or educating themselves.
The excitement of a promise may be subtle but it does work. People are short on time and if you make them a promise to give them something of value they’ll look forward to reading on. Make it nice and easy for them. If someone finds your content easy to read and full of valuable information they’re likely to come back.
Tell them exactly what your article will teach them in your headline:
- How to Teach Your Dog to Sit in 2 Minutes
- The Quick Way to Get More Backlinks
- 5 Great Methods for Baking Quiche
- 10 Reasons People Hate Your Blog
While these headlines might seem “simple” they’re quite powerful. They’re the sort of headline that people click.
Use a Headline Generator
It doesn’t get much easier than typing your keyword into a website and having it spit out headlines for you. The great thing about it is it’s basically effortless. Sure you might not use their headline word for word but you’ll be able to generate a lot of great ideas in a short amount of time. Pick and choose what you find compelling and make a great headline of your own.
Portent really comes up with some unique ideas and it’s quite addicting. I used banana and it came up with:
- Why Your Banana Never Works Out the Way You Plan
- Why Our World Would End if Bananas Disappeared
- What Everyone is Saying About Bananas
HubSpot’s generator let’s you choose 3 nouns, but for simplicity I just used banana three times. Then it comes up with 5 topics at a time. Don’t you want to know what will banana be like in 100 years?
Tweak Your Biz generates hundreds of headlines at a time and they also have an option to print or download.
They have it nicely compiled into different categories such as lists, best, questions, how to, secrets, and so on. I think my next topic on this blog will be “The 8 Biggest Banana Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid.”
Run Ideas Through CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
I don’t publish anything without running titles through this headline analyzer. I might not always get 70’s or above but I certainly try. And I’m sure I could get more clicks on this post by adding a number or more powerful & emotional words.
Get Advice From the Pros
When I was starting out I did a lot of research into creating a successful blog. I came across a lot of great articles on creating great headlines, and these ones are my favorites:
- 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work
- The Formula for a Perfect Headline
- How to Write Award Winning Blog Headlines
- The Top Words Used in Viral Headlines
I recommend checking all of those out. And do you see what they’ve done there? They’re using the same basic formula that’s been proven to work. Lots of numbers, interesting adjectives, and promises in their headlines about headlines. Crazy I know, but it works.
Try It Out for Yourself
Next time you create a post spend some more time writing a great headline. Just so you know don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come easily. A lot of the pros spend many hours just coming up with the perfect title, often writing more than 25+ potential headlines per post.
Your headline is the most important part of your article, so you need to get it right. If you can’t entice new readers with a great headline you’re missing out on a lot of traffic.
Once you feel confident you’ve come up with a headline that promises something of value share it. See what happens.
I was amazed the first time I tried the formula. I’d been writing boring headlines for a long time until I stumbled upon some of those great articles I mentioned above. My very first post with this formula generated four times the amount of shares than my usual posts did. I didn’t promote it any differently, I did the same thing I always do after hitting publish.
It only took one great headline.
Do you have any extra tips for coming up with great headlines? Have you found success with this formula? Leave a comment below and let me know how you come up with your titles.