While 8 out of 10 people will read an article’s headline, only 2 out of 10 people will read the article
If you’re using blogging and content marketing to engage your audience, you know just how much time and energy it takes to cook up a seriously delicious piece of content—and get it to stand out online.
Rather than letting your blood, sweat, and carefully polished prose go to waste, the best thing you can to squeeze value from your blog is to invest a little brain power into crafting a headline that will hook your audience and make it absolutely impossible for people to click away.
UpWorthy discovered that by split testing headlines, they “Can see 20% difference, 50% difference, 500% difference,” according to co-founder Peter Koechley. “A really excellent headline can make something go viral.”
Here are 11 tips for writing click-worthy headlines.
1 – Choose Words that Evoke Powerful Emotions
CoSchedule did a study on headline effectiveness to confirm if high EMV (Emotional Marketing Value) score correlated to the popularity of an article. They found that articles with a high number of social shares (more than 1,000) had higher EMV scores than articles that didn’t get shared as much.
Emotion moves people. It engages them. It compels action.
2 – Practice Headline Writing with Every Article
Creativity is a muscle. It requires practice and if you hope to grow your creative muscle, you need to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone.
To get started, try writing at least 5 different headlines for each article you write and then selecting the best one.
Upworthy experienced rapid growth through viral social sharing of their content. In a presentation entitled “The Sweet Science of Virality” they revealed that part of their editorial process requires their writers to write at least 25 different headlines for each article.
3 – Dial in the Digits: Headlines with Numbers Work Better
Conductor ran a study on headlines to find out what type of headlines performed the best. They found that the most popular type of headlines were headlines with numbers in them.
Furthermore, a study conducted by Outbrain and Hubspot found that headlines with odd numbers got 20% more clicks than headlines with even numbers. So if you are writing a list post, create a list with an odd number of items if possible.
4 – Adding Parentheses or Brackets Can Increase Click Rates
How do you use parentheses or brackets in your headlines? Here are a few ideas…
Mention a bonus
- Original Title: 7 Steps for Writing Viral Content
- Updated Title: 7 Steps for Writing Viral Content (Free Checklist)
- Original Title: How I Started My E-commerce Business
- Updated Title: How I Started My E-commerce Business (And Generated Over $100k in One Year)
5 – Include Dashes and Colons—They Get Clicks!
Here are a few ways to use them when writing headlines.
Short keyword phrase followed by article title
- SEO Myths: 5 Common Misconceptions about SEO
- Breaking News: Tiger Escapes from Zoo
Adding in a qualifier
- How My Bank Account Got Hijacked—The Full Story
Using em dashes and colons allows you to add a little more information to your headline and make it a little more interesting to potential readers.
6 – Use Split Testing to Improve Your Headline Writing
Most email service providers (ESPs), like Mailchimp, allow you to test headlines by sending different versions of your headline to segments of your list to see which headline gets more clicks.
7 – Can You Write a Simple Question Like This One?
Question headlines on Twitter got 50-350% more clicks than ordinary headlines.
- Original headline: 7 common blogging mistakes
- Question headline: Are you making one of these 7 blogging mistakes?
The reason why question headlines work is that the reader might become curious and want to know that answer to the question. If you’ve written a good headline for your article, you may be able to write it as a question that gets your readers curious.
8 – Create a “Curiosity Gap”
Curiosity gaps are a powerful copywriting technique that leaves out a little info, which encourages readers to become curious and click.
- How I Launched a 6-figure E-commerce Business
Curiosity gaps should be used carefully and you should avoid writing titles that are purely “click-bait.” Readers should feel like the article they read satisfied their curiosity or else you could lose the trust of your audience.
9 – Consider Using a Negative Headline
Here is an example of a headline rewritten as both a negative and positive headline.
- Regular headline: 5 Tactics that Marketers Use to do SEO
- Positive headline: 5 Powerful Tricks that Marketers Can Use to Boost SEO Traffic
- Negative headline: 5 Common Mistakes that Cause Marketers to Fail at SEO
Outbrain did a study of 65,000 headlines and discovered that negative headlines got 30% more clicks than regular headlines. Another interesting finding was that positive headlines got 29% fewer clicks.
Positive headlines can still work really well, particularly if they are believable and contain real numbers. However, negative headlines are definitely worth testing out as they seem to perform better on average.
10 – Rewrite Your Article Sub Headlines at Least Once (Even the Conclusion)
The subheadings are really important too because most readers will scan your article before they decide to read the whole thing. Writing interesting subheadings can convince readers to stick around and read the entire article.
You should also consider writing a unique subheading for the concluding paragraph. A lot of writers use phrases like “To Wrap It Up” or “Conclusion”, but with a little thought, you can think of a more interesting and unique subheading for your final paragraphs.
11 – Focus on Clarity
Busy people really value clarity in headlines so that they know exactly what they’ll get if they click on a link. Writers often try to be creative to write headlines that stand out or have shock value, but sometimes the best approach is to just be straightforward when writing headlines.
Movexa is a supplement company and they were able to increase sales by 89.97% for one of their products by simply adding one word to increase clarity. Their original product title was “Natural Joint Relief” and they changed it to “Natural Joint Relief Supplement”, which nearly doubled their sales.
If you’re not sure what type of headline to use, being direct, specific and concise might be a good default approach to take when writing headlines.
Headline writing is a skill that takes time to master and it’s an important task to spend time on to maximize the number of people who will read your content. Commit to practicing it by writing multiple headlines and even sub-headers for every article that you write.
PS. Despite the studies cited in this article, remember that there isn’t a perfect formula for writing headlines every time. Feel free to get creative and test your results to see what works.