April 19, 2016 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Writing catchy, effective headlines takes work. In fact, your team might spend almost as much time coming up with the headline for an article or blog post as it takes to write the piece. Understanding why some headlines work — and why many fall flat — can help you hit the mark more often with your own headlines. Today, we’re giving you 40 headline examples, some good and some bad, to show you what works, what doesn’t, and how not to make careless mistakes with your own:
Good headlines help you draw in your target audience. With so many pieces of content available, your headlines are a quick way to capture people’s attention and encourage them to read more about your company’s products, services, or specialties. How do you do that? Try:
Here are 35 good headline examples, and why the content creators got the formula right:
How could you trust us about writing good headlines if we didn’t create a few of our own? This headline works because it tells you exactly what you’re going to read about when you click the link: parts of a URL structure. But it also calls back to pop culture, starting off with, “what’s in a name,” part of a famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Seeing a reference to something familiar may be enough to get your audience to stop the scroll and click on your content.
This headline from OptinMonster creates a sense of urgency by including words like “need” and “now.” The word “need” makes the reader wonder or maybe even worry that there’s information on the topic that they don’t already know. The word “now” intensifies the need to read it immediately, so they waste no more time in the dark on the subject. These types of headlines can work well for retail businesses when you want to motivate your customers to purchase.
This headline from HubSpot makes scrollers stop and think about their punctuation usage. It introduces a defense attorney’s favorite phrase: reasonable doubt. The reader may think they’ve been using exclamation points right their whole life. But this headline has them questioning if what they’ve always thought could be a lie.
This example from Search Engine Journal brings up that sense of urgency again with the word “need.” By calling this article a “glossary,” these pros make the content seem scannable. Like the reader doesn’t have to read the entire thing in one sitting if they don’t want to. Even with a list topping out at over 200 terms, that makes the lengthy content seem more approachable.
An article like this can help convince your website visitors to stay around longer. After all, if you’re able to deliver helpful information in an article like this, what else do you have to share that can be of use to them? Remember to link well within posts like these, so the reader can visit other parts of your website.
This headline from the Content Marketing Institute also makes the piece feel scannable just from the headline. Only this time it’s because the list is short, with just five ideas. Listicles make for content and headline gold because they’re easy to scan and quick to read. Your audience doesn’t feel like they have to commit a ton of time to read what you share.
Another benefit is that Google creates featured snippets at the top of the first page of search results. List articles have a great chance of showing up here because the content is easy to ready and engaging. Google wants to prioritize these articles for its searchers and may display your list to entice readers to click through.
This headline works because it sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. The number $1,248.90 alone is enough to make people stop for a moment and read. Then to find out someone is claiming they made that much money from an online business in just three weeks? Adding the word “how” implies this is a tutorial. That’s another reason readers may click, to learn how to do this for themselves.
Not only can a headline like this help visitors to trust you, but you further expose your products to consumers who may not have heard of you before.
This headline from Moz may make people, especially content creators, feel all their emotions at once. It sets words like “good” and “unique,” typically beneficial qualities, against the word “die.” It gets the reader wondering “why would something good need to die?” That’s how Moz gets you, hook, line, and sinker.
Sparking a reader’s interest can get them to click on your headline and visit your article; just remember to deliver on your headline’s promise and actually discuss what you’re teasing.
People are curious by nature. Posing questions in your headlines can be one way to get people to stop and think. That’s why we ask them so often in titles for our Knowledge Base articles and blog posts. This one makes the reader wonder, “well, can that much social data influence marketing?” And if they’re really curious about the answer, they have to click to find out.
Here’s another emotion-evoking headline from CoNatural. It uses the adjectives “healthier” and “productive” to give the reader the idea that there are ways to be better. That if they follow these how-to tips created by the CoNatural content team, they, too, can be a better version of themselves. Or in this case, have a better home office space.
Note that CoNatural is a company that makes organic and natural skin and hair care products. Their use of this headline is perfect for their target audience of individuals who care about living in a more non-toxic environment. They are able to attract their target audience without pushing their sales too much. They created a helpful piece of content, and only inserted two product images and links at the very end.
This headline from Convince & Convert uses the classic “difference” formula to entice readers. It pits two ideas against one another and provides facts, or maybe just opinions, on why one is better. Some people on team traffic may also see this headline as controversial. They may choose to click and read, even if it’s just to scoff that the position is “wrong.”
Publishing content like this can actually service to convince the naysayer that what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. And when you get someone who believes one way to actually think about the alternatives, you have a greater chance of converting.
This Backlinko headline relies on data and facts to sell its value. By including the words “data-driven,” it’s setting itself up to be better than those opinion articles on the topic. This one has facts behind it, and those looking for proof should be quick to click.
Similar to the last example, this headline is looking for validity in what’s sometimes a pool of made-up content and scams. Not only does it use the popular listicle format, but it also uses the word “legitimate.” That evokes an emotion of trust and security, that whatever the reader finds inside should work, rather than getting caught up in a scam.
This headline from SmartBlogger has a lot of points going for it. Using the term “silly” can elicit emotions of either pride or shame, depending on if the reader follows this monetization strategy or not. It includes a number, which sets the reader up for easy browsing. It also presents a solution to the problem. Almost as if the headline is saying, “don’t worry, if you’re doing this we can help you fix it.” That’s good not just for getting people to click the content, but for marketing, to set SmartBlogger up as a solution.
This Search Engine Journal headline is similar to the SmartBlogger example. It sets up the reader to call themselves out on easy but lazy practices they may have for SEO. Some may question if everything they’ve thought they were doing right is actually completely wrong. But it also encourages them to do better by learning what the tactics are and avoiding them.
Search Engine Journal did right by making an article like this because, as the authority, they are acknowledging that there are SEO tactics “experts” use that are less than ideal. Then, they educate their readers about it to position themselves as the guiding light for content creators, marketers, and business owners, all of whom want to work at getting their content viewed by a target audience.
This is another one of our favorite CopyPress question headlines. But that’s not the only thing that makes this one work. It also sets up a confusing or controversial point. Should every business use SEO? Most people would say yes. But what if we said no? This topic phrased as a question is enough to make the reader want to dive in and find out more.
Are you understanding what makes a good headline yet? Check out 20 more examples from around the web and the business world and see if you can identify what qualities make these stand out from the crowd:
Even the kings and queens of content have an off day. Sometimes when you’re rushing to meet a deadline or you don’t fully understand your content topic, the headline can suffer. Here’s a look at five headlines that could be better with a little revision:
For as much as we love our own headlines, we can admit when they could be better. There’s nothing “bad” about this headline. It tells the reader what they’ll find within, account-based marketing examples for B2B companies. It’s just not very exciting. And in a world of hundreds of other articles on the same topic, it might not be enough to grab a reader’s attention. But making it better is a quick fix. We could simply add a number to the front and turn it into a listicle. Don’t be surprised if we do that someday!
We’ve got Search Engine Land under the microscope for “blah” headlines too. Again, there’s nothing wrong here. It’s informative and tells you exactly what you need to know. But while it’s great of Ahrefs to raise money for Ukraine, the headline gives the whole article away. You don’t really need to read beyond the headline itself to get to the point. How do you fix that? By adding a little mystery. Add an aside or a parenthetical, like in “good” example 13 above. Encourage people to wonder how they did it, or find out why, even if the answer may be obvious.
CopyPress is at it again. We’re being harsh on ourselves today, but being self-aware is how you get better at anything, including writing headlines. Can you spot what’s wrong with this headline? If you said it’s generic, you’re right. We’re definitely targeting the keyphrase “referral links” but as it’s written, this article might not be appealing to our readers. To fix this, we could highlight our tips section, with something like “X Tips To Create Winning Referral Links.”
No matter what type of writing you’re doing, clarity is everything. That includes headlines. Did you have to read this Search Engine Journal example a few times before it made sense? Us too. It’s talking about a new experimental feature for the Google Site Kit tool that pulls information from Google’s Question Hub. But you wouldn’t get that from reading the headline alone. It’s clunky and hard to read, even if you’re in the marketing and SEO fields. Better sentence structure and clarity could take this headline from confusing to clickable.
We’ll end with one more dig at ourselves. This one is better than others because including the word benefits helps spark some interest. But what are some ways we could fix this? We could do the ever-popular listicle and add a number to the front. Or we could rewrite it completely for more emotion, something like, “Why Paying Someone Else To Do Your Work Actually Increases Your Income.” Wouldn’t that make you stop and give it a read?
If your headlines sound like they fall into the “bad” or “blah” category, give them a spruce. Great headlines give your content more visibility and help your SEO. The more you play with different headline formulas and constructions, the better you’ll get. Keep your audience in mind, and in no time, you’ll craft headlines that encourage users to click on your article titles and read your content to the very end.
If you’re feeling stuck, download our free eBook on creating better titles and headlines. Inside, learn how to brainstorm the right hooks for capturing your audience, and how to target different audience segments. This information can help you catch the eyes of your leads and increase engagement and conversions with your content marketing.
More from the author: