Writing catchy headlines is really important. Attention-grabbing catchy headlines get clicked more often in Google's search results, social media, and on Pinterest.
Without awesome headlines - you have no traffic. And without traffic - you have no business.
So let's take the time to write better headlines and blog post titles. Here are 15 tips to write the perfect headline for your next blog post.
Write the headline last
While your headline is the first thing a user sees, it should be the last thing you write.
The reason for this is because you need to devote enough time to writing the perfect blog post title. Setting time aside for after the blog post is done makes it part of the post-writing process.
Here is my entire process for writing a blog post:
Article idea -> Keyword research -> Outline -> First draft -> Final copy -> Add images -> Add internal links -> SEO -> Headline -> Publish -> Promotion
I go over the process in more detail in my how to write a blog post guide here.
Tools to help you write better headlines
Helps with spelling and grammar in the free version. In the pro version it helps with wordiness, confidence, and synonyms for your headline.
This WordPress plugin lets you input a few different headlines for a blog post. Then it conducts a test (based on user engagement metrics) to determine which was your best headline.
This free tool gives you an instant score on your headline.
Grammarly is a browser extension for Chrome/Firefox that helps you write better content.
Keyword research before anything
Once you have a general idea on what you want to write about, do keyword research to see if it's worth writing about.
You don't want to write about a topic with competition so fierce you'll never get to the first page of Google.
You also don't want to go overboard and write about something too narrow. If no one is searching for it, it's not worth writing about.
The perfect blog post title formula
Your blog post title serves three purposes:
Here's a formula I like to work with:
Number + Adjective + Keyword + Promise + Time
To build your headline start with your keyword, then build it word by word after that.
Let's see this in action:
5 Awesome Ab Exercises to Get You Ripped in Two Weeks
Start with working headline
A big mistake newbie bloggers make is they spend countless hours writing the perfect blog post, only to spend a few seconds writing a headline.
If you don't take the time to create a catchy title, your content will never get the kind of traffic your great content deserves.
Start with a rough-draft of your headline. Your first try won't be perfect - and that's perfectly fine.
We're going to refine it later by replacing adjectives and trying get the point across in as few characters as possible.
First things first, what is your blog post about? Write a sentence describing the topic you're writing about.
It's important to convey as much as you can in your title in as few words as possible.
Your headline needs to include your keyword phrase. Bonus points if you can work in why this topic matters.
Use a superlative in your blog post title
A superlative is a special strong kind of adjective used to compare several items. Using superlatives will make your title pop.
Using a superlative will give your blog post title some extra emphasis and should reward you with a higher click-through rate.
Some examples of superlatives that drive emotion and pack a punch include: biggest, finest, best, newest, quickest, most.
Be sure to only use one superlative though. Anything else is overkill and will look like click-bait.
Bad: 5 Books I'll Read This Summer
Good: The Best 5 Books For Summer 2019
The content may be the same, but only the second headline will get traffic. The reason? You're using an absolute word: best. Who wouldn't want to know what the best is?
Browse through BuzzFeed to see the type of article headlines they write. They are well known for their superlative-type headlines and they get a bad rap for it.
But as long as your article delivers what's promised in the headline, I have no problem with a headline built for clicks.
Use a negative superlative in the headline
You can also "scare" the user into clicking by using the opposite - a negative superlative.
This psychological concept will alarm the users’ brain, ringing the alarm bells, and thus you’ll draw more attention to your title and your article.
It’s important not to do this too much as you’ll be seen as the boy crying wolf. But a good mixture of negative superlatives won’t hurt anyone.
Bad: 6 Ways To Build A Successful Business
Good: 6 Worst Things That’ll Destroy Your New Business
The second example is superior since it builds a sense of urgency, while not going totally overboard.
Get personal with your headlines
When people read a how-to article, they want to know how it will help them specifically. You can do this by including the word "you" or "your" in the headline.
Bad: 5 Credit Score Hacks
Good: 5 Hacks To Boost Your Credit Score
This will make it seem like you are talking to them and they can see how the article can improve their life.
Use a number in the headline
List-based blog posts are easy to write, easy to read, and their headlines are very clickable.
Let me give you an example of why list posts get higher click through rates.
Bad: How To Write Good Blog Post Titles
Good: 11 Ways To Write Good Blog Post Titles
A "how to" sounds boring and hard to read. But with a number in the title, the article seems so non-threatening, like a casual easy read I can scroll quickly through.
You can take most of the guesswork out of writing great headlines by using Thrive Headline Optimizer. With this plugin you can test a few of your best headlines out and see which one works best.
It's an awesome way of learning how to write better headlines - by actually seeing which ones work best for your blog.
Be persuasive, but not pushy
You don’t want to come across as being pushy in your headline.
The most important part of a headline is the topic, what your post is about. That’s the meat. Think of the surrounding text as the seasoning.
Come on too strong and it’ll leave a bad taste in the readers’ mouth. Avoid using pushy headlines such as:
Bad: You Will Die If You Don’t Do This Exercise Daily
Good: Doing This 1 Exercise Daily Will Improve Your Health
Use odd numbers in your titles
We already know that using numbers in your blog post titles is an effective way to get your articles clicked on.
But some numbers work better than others. For example, the number 10 is so common that it is virtually ignored.
Compelling numbers are those that stand out, it’s those numbers that you normally don’t see every day.
Bad: Top 10 Pop Songs In America
Good: The 11 Best Pop Songs In The US This Year
This might sound "odd", but odd numbers generate a higher click through rate than even numbers in your headlines.
Use [brackets] in your headline
You can identify certain types of content by using brackets. It is universally understood that words in a bracket will define the type of content you are delivering.
For example, if you are presenting an infographic it is useful to use the word [infographic] in brackets in your title.
Bad: Infographic On Shopping Habits By Gender
Good: Shopping Habits By Gender [Infographic]
Other examples of bracketed words you can use include [template], [interview], [guide] [pdf download] & [checklist inside]
Don't be ambiguous
When you are looking through a series of titles in Google search you want to know exactly what the article will deliver. As you scan through the search results, you will only click on the link that is going to answer your question.
You might think that it is cute to write a suspenseful title because it will tease the reader into clicking. But this has the opposite effect.
Let me give you an example.
Bad: Do THIS Before Every Workout... Or Else
Good: 7 Scientific Reasons Why You NEED To Stretch Before A Workout
The first example may pique someone’s curiosity. But they would have to be awfully bored and gullible to click on that link.
The second example clearly states what the blog post will be about - and does this while not “giving away the farm”.
The reader is much more likely to click on a title which gives the readers clarity on the content rather than an ambiguous one.
Keep your title between 60-70 characters
Google search results will display between 60 and 70 characters of your title.
This is not an exact number since the W or M take up much more room than the letter I. But keeping it in the 60 to 70 range is a good rule of thumb.
If your title is too long Google will cut it off and your hard work of writing a perfect title will be wasted.
Let me illustrate this with an example.
Bad: These Are The Five Most Important Methods To Generating Substantial...
Good: 5 Methods To Generate Revenue Working From Home
If your blog post is too wordy then the reader will never get to even see what your article is about.
Another good strategy here is to place your important keywords (the topic) as close to the beginning of the title as possible. This way, the important part of your title will always be seen regardless of character count.
Choose the correct capitalization
Have you ever noticed how most of the blog post titles you say have the first letter capitalized of each word? That’s not a coincidence. That’s the right way to do it.
Everything in lowercase would make it read like a sentence, rather than a title.
And what about all uppercase? Now that’s just shouting and unprofessional.
Use the Capitalize My Title tool to help with this.
Bad: 9 must have essentials for your next camping trip
Good: 9 Must-Have Essentials for Your Next Camping Trip
Use 6-8 words for the headline
While this is not an exact science it is recommended to use 6 to 8 words in the title of your blog post.
This means that you should avoid using small words such as “a”, “the”, “it” too much.
When scouring Pinterest, Twitter or Google for help, users will scan the titles and pick the best one. Wordy headlines get ignored while succinct ones win every time.
Bad Example: 15 Health Benefits Of Avocados That Are Going To Shock You
Good Example: 15 Shocking Health Benefits Of Avocados
The most important takeaway from this is to be sure to get your message across in the first six words of the title.
You can follow every tip on how to write a catchy headline and still not know if your headlines are great or just so-so. Unless, of course, you have the data to back it up.
I use Thrive Headline Optimizer to write multiple headlines for each of my blog posts. I then let the plugin run some tests in the background. Different users see the different headlines and analytics are collected over how they interact with the article (time on page, scroll depth & bounce rate).
Based on the results, the winning headline is chosen and shown to the rest of my audience.
So, did you learn anything new about how to write a catchy headline? If you did, would you mind sharing this post on social media? Links are below!