How to Improve Headlines: 7 Tips for Headline Writing

How to Improve Headlines: 7 Tips for Headline Writing

“Engagement lies in the power of compelling headlines.” Content writers and copywriters know how important headlines are, which is why they spend so much time creating and testing them.

Headlines play a significant role in every piece of content and copy. By using catchy headlines and subheadlines in your blog posts and articles,  you’ll be able to capture attention and encourage your audience to keep reading.

In this article, we’re going to discuss how to write great headlines and which type of headlines you should be writing.

Let’s get right into it!

The 80/20 rule of headlines

Statistics show that 8 out of 10 people read headlines, but only 2 out of 10 people read the rest. This shows that if your headline doesn’t instantly grab attention and entice your readers, they’ll simply move on.

To avoid that, you need to start crafting amazing headlines. 

This brings us to…

How to create killer headlines?

There’s a lot that goes into writing an effective article headline, but the goal is simple: to keep your audience reading.

So how do you accomplish that? There are many different approaches and formulas, but we’re going to cover some common best practices.

1. Use stats or numbers in your headlines 

Incorporating specific numbers and data in your headlines is a great way to make them stand out. Articles with headlines featuring numbers or specific statistics tend to generate more engagement and encourage social sharing. 

Copywriter and marketing strategist Debra Jason once said that numbers are like “brain candy” in headline writing. They’re almost addictive, and we gravitate towards headlines that have them. 

Pro tip: try using odd numbers, which readers feel more real or “authentic.” Using numbers in your headlines could even increase your clickthrough rates by 20%!

2. Turn reviews into headlines

Your website likely has tons of headlines on your homepage, product pages, category pages, landing pages, and so on. Why not use some of them as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a great review or two?

Check out this example from Molekule, where they used real reviews to create a sense of authenticity and trust.

review headline example - How to Improve Headlines: 7 Tips for Headline Writing

Using reviews, feedback, ratings, testimonials, and other user-generated content as social proof is always smart, but using it in your headlines is next-level clever. 

It gives you an easy way to say positive things about your business without bragging, and it’s a strategy that’s sure to help build your authority.

3. Focus on the value your article or content is providing

When you sit down to write a headline, you want to think about why your readers should read your content. What will they take away? What will they gain? 

This simple exercise will help you find the reason your readers should care about what you’ve written. Don’t expect them to know—you need to tell them what that reason is! 

Studies show that 59% of people share content without reading through it completely. While writing good content can help combat this problem, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to completely change this habit, so it’s worth using it to your advantage. By writing blog headlines that appeal to your audience and let them quickly grasp what your article, email, or other content is about, (and whether it’s share-worthy) you’re helping them help you by spreading your work! 

Here are a few examples of rationales that you can use in your headlines to convince readers that your content is worth their time: 

  • Tips: 5 Tips to Optimize Headline Writing 
  • Reasons: 9 Reasons Effective Headlines are So Critical
  • Tricks: 7 Tricks to Developing Blog Post Headlines
  • Ways: 11 Ways to Improve Your Headlines Now
  • Principles: 13 Principles to Keep in Mind while Writing Great Headlines
  • Secrets: 15 Secrets to Optimize your Content for Search Engines

Notice that these headline examples combine a powerful rationale with an odd number!

4. Work with your audience’s short attention span

Grabbing attention is relatively straightforward—keeping it is another story. Studies show that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, which is something you need to keep in mind as you’re crafting your headlines. 

A compelling headline convinces your reader that it’s worth taking a few minutes out of their day to read your content, and it’s the job of your subheadlines to make reading/scanning your content easier and more enjoyable.

Looking for specific tips on keeping people’s attention? 

  • Develop urgency in your headlines, which will have people thinking to themselves “This is something I need to read now.”  
  • Provide real value: By sharing useful information that matches what your headlines promise, you’ll boost your credibility and improve the conversion rate.

Remember that your audience is human, with thousands of search results and distractions vying for their attention!

5. Try different headline formulas

All successful content writers have their favorite headline formulas, which give their headlines structure. 

Formulas are a great way to optimize your headlines for SEO and ensure you’re creating a headline that will interest your readers.

Here’s an example of a headline formula that you could experiment with. It’s called “SHINE,” which is an acronym for:

  • S – Specificity
  • H – Helpfulness
  • I – Immediacy
  • N – Newsworthiness 
  • E – Entertainment Value 

By combining these elements, you’ll ensure readers can’t help but click on your headline! 

Here are a few more headline formulas (with examples):

  • Little known ways: 5 Little Known Ways to Write Magnetic Headlines
  • Get rid of (problem) once and for all: Read This Guide and Never Write a Dud Headline Again
  • Who else…?: Who Else Wants to Learn The Art of Writing Headlines?

6. Choose your words carefully

Words have the power to evoke emotions, both positive and negative. While you could probably substitute “Find” for “Discover” as the action word in your headline, would it be equally effective? Probably not! 

Whenever possible, you want to use power words that stand out, grab attention, and get a reader’s interest. These special words resonate with people and create a specific emotion,  feeling, or response in your audience, like curiosity, happiness, trust, prestige, nostalgia, etc. 

You can also experiment with unique or uncommon adjectives to add a layer of interest to your headlines. For example, doesn’t “5 Game-Changing Tricks for Irresistible Headlines” sound better than “5 Great Tricks for Effective Headlines”? 

And of course, you never want to forget the ultimate power word: YOU. By addressing your reader directly, you’ll guarantee they pay attention!

7. Use a headline analyzer to make sure you’re on the right track

Measuring the success of your headlines can help you improve them and learn to write better ones in the future. 

You always want to A/B test different headlines to see what works best with your unique audience, but you can also try a headline analyzer to estimate how effective your headlines will be before publishing them. These tools are also great for evaluating other brands’ headlines so you can learn what works and why. 

Here are a few headline analyzer tools to try: 

Final thoughts

While trends in content marketing come and go, one thing has stayed consistent over the years: it’s essential to write headlines that are unique, appealing, and compelling. 

Aim to craft headlines that you’d click on. Remember that in many cases, readers have landed on your blog for information, so you should focus on educating them and making the time they spend consuming your content worth it for them. Great headlines help you break large blocks of content into smaller, more digestible pieces for a better overall experience.

By following the tips above, you’ll soon be crafting amazing, successful headlines that beg to be shared!  

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