April 27, 2022 (Updated: January 2, 2024)
Catchy headlines can mean the difference between enticing audiences to click on your page and getting lost in the noise. Your blog or resource headline is the first thing that people see when they find it in search, even if they don’t read any of the content. If you’re trying to grab your readers’ attention and increase organic traffic to your site, it’s important to create compelling headlines for your blogs and articles.
In this guide:
Though people sometimes use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between headlines and titles. Titles are names of things like movies, television shows, books, and businesses. People use titles to tell audiences exactly what they’re about to watch or read and to develop a long-lasting brand. A lot of titles are also exclusive to one brand or piece of media. For instance, there’s only one movie franchise that springs to mind when someone mentions “Back To The Future.”
Headlines, on the other hand, aren’t as unique — especially for online content. The primary goal of a headline is to attract as many people as possible to view or read your content. And if enough people view it, the better your chance of ranking higher and reaching more audiences.
Remember, though, that multiple blogs and articles tend to use very similar headline structures. They might differ by a few words but ultimately will share a similar formula. That’s why it’s important to set your headlines apart from the competition with some eye-catching techniques.
There are different types of headlines that businesses can use to attract audiences to their content. Depending on what your blog or article is about, it’s important to use the right headline to match the information. Some types include:
How-to headlines attract readers by offering them a tutorial on a specific task. Think of, “How To Change Your Car Oil” or “How To Brew French Press Coffee,” for example. Both are how-to headlines that promise the reader beneficial information. These pieces of content are often industry specific. That means that the brand creating this content relates to the information. So, for the first example, a car manufacturer, car oil company, or car parts company is most likely to write about changing your car oil to inform their readers while simultaneously selling their products or services.
These headlines often juxtapose two or more subjects, like, “Novels vs. Stage Plays” or “Artificial Christmas Trees vs. Real Christmas Trees.” These headlines promise a comparison between two subjects. In the context of sales and bottom-of-the-funnel content, this could be pages comparing your brand’s products or services to similar offers out there.
The structure is the same, though. They will list the pros and cons of each topic or discuss definitions and major differences between them, so readers are better informed when making decisions or searching for deeper info.
Overly descriptive headlines present the readers with a lot of information before they open the blog or article. They’re often one long sentence but sometimes can span two or more.
For example, “Has Your Dog Started To Eat More Grass? There’s Probably a Reason for That” or “The Key To Better, Healthy Living Might Be as Simple as Taking Some Extra Steps.” These headlines provide the readers with in-depth information about the topic, but they’re often not the best for search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a process brands can perform on their content to help people find it more easily on search engines. One action they can do for better SEO is to make their headlines between 60 to 65 characters. This allows the full headline to display on the search engine results page (SERP) without getting cut off. If brands want to use descriptive headlines, it’s helpful to use that wording on the actual webpage but add a shorter, alternative SEO-friendly headline that shows up on search engines.
These headlines comfort readers by adding credibility to the content. They often use words like “proof,” “evidence,” and “experts” to entice people to click. For example, “Experts Agree: Vinyl Is the Best Way To Listen to Music” or “Evidence Shows That Grammar Is Important for Copywriting.” These headlines help build a relationship of trust with readers before they even read the information. Most often, they’re paired with content that offers informative statistics or facts to deliver on the headline’s promise.
These headlines promise readers a list of information to help them with a specific problem or situation. For example, “7 Tips For Baking Amazing Bread” or “5 Tips To Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.” Though numbers aren’t essential for these headlines, they can create an additional sense of value.
They can be especially helpful for brands that want to stand out from their competitors. By conducting keyword research, brands can see which articles are performing the best and try to offer more information to readers than other companies. For instance, let’s say a brand searches the keyword “tips for writing a novel.” If the top-performing article has 15 tips, it might be helpful to create an article with at least that many tips, if not more.
Some headlines ask readers a question to entice them to click on a blog or article. For instance, “Why Are Short Leashes Important for Dog Training?” or “How Do You Change a Tire?” These headlines help relate to their audience by showing the questions they might have.
Question headlines are also helpful for targeting keywords. That’s because people often use search engines to ask questions. If the headline matches the search prompt, it might have an easier time ranking higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
These headlines, sometimes combined with question headlines, present a challenge to the audience so they can feel a sense of accomplishment. For example, “Can You Find What’s Wrong With This Image?” or “Can You Name Every Winner of the Great British Baking Show?” If these topics interest the reader, they might feel more inclined to click on the content and read through it.
Though you might find these types of headlines for more interactive content, such as BuzzFeed’s quizzes, you can use them for other content as well. For example, headlines like “Do You Know The Best Way to Mow Your Lawn?” invite a challenge to the reader while still presenting them with useful information.
Some headlines try to present a company as the ultimate source on a subject. This can help brands develop audience loyalty and trust in their content and encourage them to keep reading. For instance, “Ultimate Guide To SEO” or “Best Way To Improve Your Marketing Efforts.” These types of headlines often try to answer as many questions about the topic as possible to provide readers with a lot of helpful information, all in one place.
These headlines highlight some common mistakes that people make when performing certain tasks. For example, “Mistakes People Make When Training Their Dog” or “10 Things To Avoid When Baking Cookies.” These headlines play off the readers’ fears of making mistakes and provide solutions, so they do it right the first time.
However, some readers might view these headlines as negative, which can turn them away from the content. If you use these types of headlines, it’s helpful to balance them with positive content that highlights the right things to do versus the wrong things to do.
Catchy headlines are important for several reasons, including:
Here is a list of steps to help you write a catchy headline for your content:
Using numbers is a great way to show how beneficial your content is for readers. It’s also a great way to attract their attention and entice them to click. For example, look at these two different headlines:
Which of these would you be more likely to click? It’s good that the second headline states it has tips to help people, but seeing the number from the first headline makes readers feel like the article has a specific set of steps to help with a procrastination problem. When using numbers in your headlines, it’s also helpful to write them as numerals versus spelling them out. It allows the headline to stand out to the reader on the search engine results.
It’s also beneficial to use odd numbers versus even numbers. Gilad Lotan conducted a study for Medium that discovered odd numbers in headlines produced slightly more traffic compared to even numbers.
Keeping your headline simple and short is a great way to entice more people to read your blog or article and improve its SEO. Writing simple headlines also helps make your blogs and articles more evergreen. Evergreen content is that which stays relevant for a longer period than trending content. It might seem like it’s more helpful to target trending topics by including them in your headline, but those headlines eventually become irrelevant to searchers when they’re no longer popular.
For instance, let’s say you make your headline “11 of the Best Vacuums to Get Your Home Ready for Christmas.” Because of the headline, the content becomes outdated once the holiday season is over. This headline might generate some trending holiday traffic, but few people search for “vacuums to get them ready for Christmas” in August. A simpler headline could read “11 of the Best Vacuums To Clean Your House for Any Occasion” or “11 of the Best Vacuums for Every Type of Floor.”
Using interesting words in your headlines is a great way to catch your readers’ attention and create a sense of urgency. That urgency can make your readers feel like they need to read the information in your content right away. Using words like “new,” “affordable,” “exclusive,” or “profitable” can make the readers feel like the blog or article can benefit them, but only if they click right away and maybe even share the content with others.
Interesting words often work best when paired with certain types of headlines. For instance, if you pair the word “affordable” with a question headline you can create something like this: “Is Your Business Buying the Most Affordable Printer Ink?” This headline helps you convince readers that their business could save money and creates the urgency to read more.
Making sure that your headline accurately reflects the information in the blog or article is important because it helps increase audience trust. If you don’t state what your content is about in the headline, it can discourage people from clicking on it. For example, let’s say you’re trying to entice your audience by shrouding your content in mystery. Your headline might read, “You’ll Never Believe How These Businesses Are Saving Money!” But that doesn’t exactly say what your article is about.
Are you talking about businesses in a specific industry? Did all these businesses use the same trick to save money? As it stands, readers might not want to click on the headline. It feels like clickbait, a headline written purely to generate clicks and traffic without delivering quality content. Instead, you could write the headline like this: “4 Tips for Saving Your Tech Business Money.” This headline helps the audience understand exactly what they’re getting from the article and how it might benefit someone with a business in the technology field.
Conducting keyword research is important because it can help you target your audience more effectively. That can help your headlines and content reach the people that benefit most from them. It can also help you increase your content’s organic traffic and search engine ranking. A great way to target keywords in your headline is to find specific words or phrases for which only a few brands or businesses rank.
One way to do that is to Google your potential headlines within quotation marks. Adding quotes to your search in Google shows content where those keywords appear exactly as typed. For example, if you type “’11 tips for overcoming procrastination” into Google, only 10 exact results appear.
But if you search “’11 tips for improving procrastination'” no exact results show up.
If the headline delivers few or no results, it might be beneficial to target those keywords because there’s less competition for them. Another great way to conduct keyword research is to use an SEO tool, like SEMrush or Ahrefs. These types of tools can help you find gaps in your content marketing to see if there are any keywords for which you’re currently not ranking.
Once you’re ready to write catchy headlines, it’s helpful to test them out first. Take an article, blog, or white paper and write out a few different headlines about its subject. While writing them, add numbers, target different keywords, and test various lengths. Then look over each of the keywords you’ve created. See which ones might make you want to click on the content the most. Talk to your colleagues and ask them which headline attracts them to click on the blog or article. Use this information to pick the headline that entices the most amount of people.
Say you’re writing an article on brewing French press coffee. Some headline ideas could include:
Any of these headlines could work for your content. But it’s important to know which one works best with your specific target audience. It’s also helpful to pair your headlines with the right keywords you want to target in your blogs and articles.
Following through on your headline means writing exceptional content to go with it. If the quality of your headline reflects the quality of your blogs and articles, people are more likely to trust your brand along with its products and services. Don’t just focus on getting readers to click, focus on getting them to stay. Research the topics you’re addressing and offer valuable information. That can help increase your search ranking and generate even more organic traffic.
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Creating an original headline for each piece of content doesn’t have to consume tons of time. Use the following 51 samples as templates for your own catchy headlines:
Here are some ideas to help you generate headlines for list-style articles:
Here are some templates for in-depth article headlines:
Here are some catchy headline templates you can use for your compare and contrast articles:
Here are some headlines to attract audiences to your how-to blogs and articles:
Every great infographic needs a headline that summarizes the concept and attracts attention. Even high-level infographics work best with short, sweet, and eye-catching titles like:
Get the eBook: For a more in-depth look at creating effective titles and headlines, download your free guide.
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