Updated January 25, 2018
Creating great headlines boils down to standing out from the crowd and showcasing WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. Read on to find out how you can improve your traffic by simply improving your headlines (titles). After all, click through rate is a great bonus multiplier!
1. Dare to be Different
This is a statement about your headlines not your content. In the past decade we’ve seen the proliferation of content marketing. More people are doing it, following the same recipe as one another. To the extent that you also follow that recipe, you become in danger of getting lost in the crowd.
When you see everyone else posting the “Top 5 Blahs” or “6 Reasons to Blah” – you know to avoid that. If you’re headline sounds like it was written by 50 people before you, then you’re doing something wrong and need to try again!
2. Tell the Reader What’s In It For Them
This is not just a statement of what knowledge you’ll be sharing with them, like “6 Ways to Write Great Headlines”. It must also tell them what they’ll get as a result of being able to do something with that knowledge, like “Double Your Traffic by Creating Irresistible Headlines”.
The key to this is having them visualize the result of having the knowledge – not the knowledge itself. It must be believable.
3. Make it Actionable
Although knowledge for knowledge sake is great, a great title must convey that the knowledge being shared is actionable. To the extent that they will be able to walk away from reading the article and take action that gives them benefit – that’s the extent that you’ll get clicks on the headline and readers on your blog.
4. Use Odd Numbers if You Use Numbers
Recent research has shown click through rate improvements of up to 20% by simply switching from even numbers to odd numbers. Using specific numbers like, “Increase Sales 123%” is great, while, “4 Reasons to” is a bit tired and samey.
5. Be Ultra-Specific
Being vague doesn’t draw anyone’s attention. Be specific and people tend to believe the numbers because they must be founded in fact.
6. Avoid Words that Harm CTR
Outbrain and HubSpot have shared some research into headline performance that is quite interesting. Vieodesign has summed it up nicely with this list of words and negative impacts that you might want to avoid:
- Magic (-59%)
- Tip (-59%)
- Credit (-58%)
- How to (-49%)
- Simple (-49%)
- Cure (-49%)
- Easy (-44%)
- Need (-44%)
- Free (-41%)
- Why (-37%)
- You/Yours/You’re (-36%)
- Trick (-26%)
- Amazing (-24%)
- Secret (-23%)
- Best, Always (positive superlatives result in a 14% decrease)
- Now (-12%)
See Also: How to Build Buzz for Your Content
7. Remember the U’s
This is the perfect tip for those starting from ground zero. To begin with, you need to come up with a decent framework that will help you construct your headline. This framework is designed to help you build a great headline, regardless of the subject.
Unique – Make your headline unique by adding your own personal spin on it. This could come in the form of some controversy or some unusual words. The point is to catch people’s eye when they are swimming in a sea of other blog headlines.
Urgent – Add a sense of urgency to your headline. Make people think that they have to read this article now or they are going to suffer for it. This is especially useful if you are selling some sort of course.
Useful – Your headline has to make it clear that what people are about to read is going to be of some use to them. You need to invite people to improve themselves. They have to take something away from your blog.
8. Take Another Swing At It
The first headline you come up with likely won’t be your best. Unless you happen to be a genius, the chances are you will come up with something better soon enough. Create multiple headlines to make sure that you are giving yourself the best shot of attracting people to your blog.
Getting Started Right Now
It’s time to get started with creating some stellar headlines. The best thing you can do is to create a few headlines before you begin actually writing your blog. Then come up with some more headlines after you have finished writing and compare them. You will have a far greater selection and you will be more likely to hit upon something good.
See Also: 8 Tips for Content Marketing Success