You spend hours creating a great post, but then you come to the hardest part:
It seems like it should be easy to create a solid headline, right?
I mean, it generally has 5 to 10 words. How long can this take?
So you write some different headlines, but they just don’t click. They are fine, but your audience will not go crazy with them.
And when you try to think of other ideas, frustration arises. How does it take so long to write a single line?
Since you hope to write headlines quickly, it becomes frustrating when you can’t.
Most marketers end up choosing the “least sucky” headline and getting less traffic than expected.
The solution is really very easy:
Expect to spend more time with your headline.
Copywriting legends like David Ogilvy would spend half the time creating headlines for the ads or articles they’re working on.
Ogilvy once reported that he rewrote a headline 104 times for a Rolls Royce ad.
Another master writer, Gene Schwartz, used to spend an entire week in the headline and an intro of a sales piece.
So when you don’t have a great headline after two minutes, don’t worry. This is completely normal.
As long as you understand this, you won’t be frustrated and you can continue until you find the right headline.
Your headline is the main factor in determining the amount of social share your content receives – the fact is, most people don’t read your content, no matter how good it is.
What they do is read the headline.
About 80-85% of people will read the headlines, while only 20% will read the actual article.
Based on the headline itself, people choose whether or not to read.
That’s one of the main reasons why a great headline is so important.
But there is an even more important reason:
Most people will share content based on the headline alone.
It seems strange, but it has been repeatedly demonstrated.
After extensive division testing, the Upworthy co-founder found that a great headline can make up to a 500% difference in share and traffic.
Through research, we (marketers) learn a lot about which headlines attract the most share and traffic.
And I want to show you the 7 best types of headlines to write about, as well as the ways to use them effectively.
You can use them right away to increase traffic and social engagement on your site.
Understand the potential of a headline: Before taking action, there is one last thing you need to understand about the headline.
Even if the headline the most impressive headline ever written, it does not mean that you will receive thousands or millions of shares.
Because there are two other factors at play:
- Your topic / niche
- The number of people who see it.
Some niches are simply not “sexy.” You will never receive millions of shares in an article about floor cleaning.
Also, if you only have 1,000 followers on social media, it will be difficult to reach that viral limit of initial share.
Bottom line: the more followers you have, the more shares you will get.
One way to compensate for the lack of followers is paid to advertise. But you will need a decent volume of one or the other.
The reason why it is important to understand these factors is to help you keep your expectations realistic.
In this post, you’ll see content headlines with hundreds of thousands of shares. It may produce similar content, but it may also be limited based on the above two factors.
Your goal should be to get as many shares as possible (depending on the headline). If you do this constantly, your website will grow.
While going viral is a good thing, constantly maximizing your shares and traffic is what will bring you reliable success.
Done. Let’s start.
How To Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines
1. The “Ultimate Headline”
This first headline formula is a great way to divide headlines into specific components.
Although it has probably been defined multiple times over the years, I came across this in a post by the infamous Jeff Goins. Let’s call it the “ultimate headline formula”:
The idea behind this formula is that it can describe almost any highly effective headline.
There are five main parts:
- Number: you know what a number is.
- Adjective: a word that describes a thing (noun). For example best, charming, surprising.
- Keyword: A keyword or short phrase that tells us what the content is about (possibly also for SEO)
- Rationale: The primary way in which value is delivered in content. For example reasons, paths, secrets.
- Promise: What will the reader get from reading the content?
2. “X” Reasons Why List Headlines Are Amazing
Let’s start with the first component of the best headlines: the number.
The list’s posts are not only highly readable but also very helpful when it comes to writing an effective headline. You automatically have multiple items on your list to add to the headline.
In an analysis of approximately 1 million most popular headlines, it was found that list posts are by far the most shared.
People love the posts on the list.
And we have more data to prove it.
A comprehensive Conductor survey shown that people really prefer headlines with numbers.
These types of headlines make a specific promise and the reader knows what to expect to enter the content. This is probably the reason why these types of the headline are preferred.
In addition, the survey also had participants rate the clarity of the different types of headings.
As you may have guessed, the list posts were seen as the clearest:
While we’re on the subject, the posts on the list not only attract additional attention (due to their headlines), they also tend to be read more.
Lists are much easier to read, and readers can browse through them, quickly moving from one section to another to see if there is anything that interests them.
Let’s say you saw these two headlines:
- “3 ways to lose 20 pounds”
- “178 ways to lose 20 pounds”
Which would appeal to you the most?
In most cases, it is the one with the bigger list.
Many bloggers took advantage of this to create content that automatically gets additional traffic and shares.
For example, Brian Dean made a list of all possible known Google ranking factors. It’s accumulated over 10,000 shares to date:
An article on five ranking factors would not be impressive. But 200? Wow, this is amazing.
And that’s exactly why so much was shared.
Make your own headline listing: The good news is that part of your headline is up to you.
If you have a list of 25 items then “25” will go to your headline.
So that leaves the rest. The other tactics in this article will help you complete that part.
3. “How to” Write A Headline That Gets Attention
Another effective type of headline is “how to ” headline.
The general format is:
How + Action (do something) + Exclusive benefit
For example, “How to fall asleep in less than a minute,” which is actually a real post.
Saying it went viral on social media is an understatement. It’s received over 300,000 shares on Facebook alone:
In that case, the “action” is falling asleep, and the only benefit is that it can be done in less than a minute.
The true selling point comes from the unique benefit. It has to be something desirable.
With this example, people are desperate to fall asleep quickly; therefore, if you have a solution that works quickly (as the headline says), readers will be interested.
If you really have a good article to back up your headline, it will be shared.
Why it works: There are a few reasons why more bloggers should use “hands-on” headlines whenever possible.
First, they are simple to write.
Divide it into two main components:
- the action
- the unique and desirable benefit
The action is usually quite simple, but spend a few minutes looking for different ways to incorporate it into the headline.
For example, with the action of falling asleep, you can follow “How” or “How” to with:
- “I learned to fall asleep”
- “Fall asleep”
- “Get to sleep”
- “I nod off”
Think of it from the reader’s point of view. They don’t really care if you fall asleep quickly, they want to do this alone. If you were born with the unique ability to fall asleep quickly, it wouldn’t be an interesting item.
However, if you have learned how to do it yourself and can share this solution, suddenly the headline becomes much more intriguing.
Now for the second part of the headline. This is a little more difficult.
Make a list of all the potential benefits of the action you are telling the reader to take. Again, try to focus on this from the reader’s point of view.
Let’s come up with a few for our example:
- “In under a minute” (the original)
- “In less than a minute” (a variation)
- “In under 60 seconds” (another variation)
- “No matter where you are” (a different benefit)
- “And wake up energized” (another benefit)
You can create a list of 20 headlines quite easily, consisting of different benefits and different ways to describe them.
It still takes practice and experience to create and choose the best option. But at least this way, you have a formula that you can repeat over and over again and improve your headline writing skills.
4. What Are The Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Headlines
Well, it’s time to clean up …
This section does not deal with headline mistake.
But admit it, it made you curious.
What is involved in incorporating the word “mistakes” into your headline? It is a magical adjective that catches the attention of almost any type of reader, making it versatile.
In general, people are afraid of making mistakes.
No, it may not be a paralyzing fear; many understand that everyone makes mistakes.
However, it is ingrained in almost everyone that we should try to avoid making mistakes whenever possible.
So when you see a headline with the word “mistakes”, you want to make sure that you are not doing something that could be considered silly.
Here is an example:
20 Beauty Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making
Even if you are not in that audience, you can understand the allure of that headline.
What mistakes should you write about? The good news is that you have a word in the headline that you already decided: mistakes.
The part that takes a headline practice is determining if your audience is interested in a certain type of mistake.
It is a good idea to consider this before creating content as well.
And to do that, you must answer an important question:
First, your audience must be concerned. If I write an article about the mistakes marketers make when choosing their hairstyles, you probably won’t be too interested.
But if I write an article about the mistakes that marketers make when trying to sell something with email marketing, a lot of my readers will be eager to read it.
My readers care about revenue, traffic, conversions, shared social media, etc.
If I write about mistakes, it must be about the mistakes that marketers make that can affect one of those primary goals.
One other bonus: Although you can write articles about a single mistake that your readers may be afraid to make, you’ll often create content about multiple mistakes.
Do you remember anything That’s right, it turns into a list post.
You can combine the use of “mistakes” in your headline with the number of items on your list (for the reasons I have shown before).
5. What Are Best Practices For Writing Headlines?
One type of headline that can help you earn more social shares is a question headline.
You ask the reader a question that they would be interested in knowing the answer to and it is implied that your content will provide the answer. The subheading of this section is a basic example.
Here is the most complex of curious facts:
A Renowned Psychologist Says There Are 4 Personality Types Based On 4 Colors. Which Are You?
Since being published, it has been shared on Facebook more than 3.6 million times (3.6 million times!):
Social networks are a great platform for the dissemination of headlines like these, since they have to do with the user.
It makes sense for them to see headlines asking questions on social media.
In particular, you’ve probably seen question headings for almost every popular quiz on Facebook.
An important note to include: The best headlines for questions are those that speak directly to your reader.
Don’t just ask them:
What is the best way to fall asleep?
Do you know the best way to fall asleep?
This forces them to answer the question and, if it is “no”, it generally makes them look for an answer.
6. This Is The Best Type Of Headline EVER!
A famous researcher, Dr. Hakim Chishti, has taught the world of marketing a lot.
He was more interested in finding out what causes emotional reactions in people.
And what he found was that certain words evoke emotions more than others.
He also discovered that emotion leads to action.
When people have a feeling about its content, positive or negative, they act. It can be a comment, share or anything else. Usually it’s something you want to encourage.
And most of that excitement will wake up when they read your headline.
That’s why you should focus on creating emotional headlines.
Try to get your readers to charge as positively or negatively as possible.
The EMV Index: The EMV Index (Emotional Marketing Value) was created to try to quantify the emotional impact of words in a sentence (or headline).
Based on an analysis of 1 million of the most popular articles, and EMV score correlates very well with the number of shares an article receives.
The higher the EMV score, the more actions an item normally receives.
Technically, the highest score is 100, but that’s not realistic.
In contrast, good copywriters tend to receive 30-40% with their headlines.
To check your headline, use this EMV headline analyzer. Enter your headline, select a category, and submit it for analysis:
You will immediately spit out an EMV score for your headline:
11. Make Your Headlines SHINE With This Method…
A final check you can make to make sure your headline covers your entire base is to see if it meets all of the items on the “SHINE” list.
SHINE is an acronym often used for headlines. It means:
- S: specificity
- H: installation
- I: intermediation
- N: News
- E: entertainment value
First, Is your headline specific? It should be clear that its content is about a specific topic.
Consider the headline: “What is the best way to cook?”
This can be about anything.
A better headline would be: “What’s the best way to cook steak?”
Now, it has a specific subject.
Second, Does it show helpfulness? At the heart of every content, there must be something of value to the reader.
Your headline should make it clear that your content will solve a problem or provide something more useful.
Third, Is there some sort of urgency? There must be something that encourages the reader to read the content right away.
If a reader is not required to do so immediately, it is unlikely to be done later.
If you are solving a big problem, the urgency is built in.
Otherwise, you must promise some kind of immediate benefit that the reader will get from the content.
Four, Does it need to be said? All content must have something new, regardless of the topic. Otherwise, why should someone see your content when they could have seen it in the past?
Your headline is the most important part of your content when it comes to getting traffic and sharing on social media.
But creating a great headline is not easy; It takes a lot of practice and knowledge.
I showed you 7 different ways to apply right away to start writing better headlines.
Start using them as soon as possible. It will improve immediately and will continue to improve as you use tactics over time.
Have a question about what makes a great headline? Let me know in the comments below.
August 20, 2020
Nice instructions. Thanks.