Why do some creators and online businesses build huge audiences, while others flounder? One factor might be whether or not the publisher knows how to write catchy headlines.

Headlines are an essential ingredient to any piece of content. They grab your reader's attention and entice them to click through. This is important; your content can’t help people if no one ever sees it in the first place. Headlines are also crucial for search engine optimization (SEO) and appearing in search engine results.

Key Takeaways

  • A compelling headline will attract readers and improve your web traffic.
  • It’s important to avoid clickbait headlines. Ensure your headline will accurately reflect the content that is to come.
  • To write a good headline, prioritize clarity. Readers gloss over confusing headlines. Get ultra specific while also being succinct.

Whether you are writing a blog post, article, or social media update, mastering the art of headline writing is essential. In this article, we will discuss five steps to help you write attention-grabbing headlines that drive traffic to your content.

When Writing Headlines, Remember “ABC”

To figure out what goes into a well-written headline, let’s first back up a step and look at the one industry that relies on effective headlines more than any other: The media.

Part of a journalist’s job is writing click-worthy headlines. A vague headline might confuse the target audience, so news writers like to prioritize what we call the ABCs of journalism.

A is for accuracy. A good headline should be, above all else, accurate. Avoid overpromising and underdelivering, or you’ll frustrate your readers.

B is for brevity. A great headline is short and to the point. Although more detail often leads to a more attention-grabbing headline, length can make your headline less punchy. The best headlines are usually short.

C is for clarity. Whether you’re appealing to readers, search engines, or both, it should be clear what your article is about from the headline alone. Most readers will be naturally drawn toward clear headlines if they are interested in the topic being discussed.

How to Write Headlines: 5 Details to Consider

No. 1: Know Your Target Audience

The first step in writing compelling headlines is to understand your audience. Consider their demographics, interests, and pain points. What are they looking for, and how can you capture their attention?

Research keywords related to your topic and identify the language and phrases commonly used by your target audience. This will give you valuable insights that can influence your headline writing process.

No. 2: Use Power Words Common to Irresistible Headlines

Power words are words that evoke emotions and create an immediate impact on the reader. Producing great headlines means capturing a reader’s attention as succinctly as possible. Incorporating these words in your headlines can make them more irresistible and help increase overall clicks and shares.

When brainstorming headline ideas, think of ways you could punch up the headline a lot more by adding just one word.

Pro Tip:Again, make sure to use power words that are relevant to your content to avoid misleading your readers.

No. 3: Create a Curiosity Gap

Curiosity is a powerful tool when it comes to writing headlines. Humans are naturally curious beings, and if you can pique interest with a headline, readers are more likely to click through to read more.

One effective way to do this is by using "curiosity gaps" in your headlines. A curiosity gap is created when a headline poses a question or hints at something intriguing, but doesn't provide all the information.

In the headline “A Roth IRA Can Help You Save on Taxes. How to Set One Up”, The ending phrase “how to set one up” creates a gap. You know that if you click to read, you’ll find out about this type of account that could help you save money.

Use headlines to appeal to someone’s natural psychology and curiosity.

No. 4: Optimize Your Headline for Google Search Results

If the goal of your writing is to bring in more search traffic, you’ll want to make sure your blog posts’ headlines check certain boxes for SEO.

Know that a blog post will have two different headlines. There is the blog title, which is what you see on the web page itself. But there’s also an SEO title, a title that appears in search engine results pages. When thinking about search results, aim to write compelling headlines that are under 55 characters in length.

These adjustments to a post title will help you produce a better headline with regard to SEO.

No. 5: Test, Measure, and Improve

Headline writing is not an exact science, and what works for one audience may not work for another. It's crucial to test different headlines and analyze their performance. Monitor click-through rates, social shares, and engagement levels for each headline variation.

An effective headline is ultimately one that gets readers engaged, and there is no perfect headline. Experiment with different active verbs or a tweaked value proposition to grab attention.

Frequently Asked Questions About Headlines

What Is a Headline?

The headline is the opening sentence or phrase of a piece of content. The main headline doesn’t have to summarize the entire piece, but it does have to intrigue readers enough to click through.

What Is the Difference Between Blog Title and SEO Title?

The blog title is what appears at the top of blog posts. The SEO title is the title that appears in search engine results pages, and usually should be 60 characters or less.

How Do You Start Writing a Headline?

To write powerful headlines, focus on being succinct and accurate. Aim to summarize the point of the post in 15 words or less.

What Is the Golden Rule for Writing Headlines?

Consider following the ABCs of journalism: accuracy, brevity, clarity. Headlines should be accurate and honest; they should be short when possible, and they should summarize the topic clearly.

Are Email Subject Lines the Same as Headlines?

Yes. In email, subject lines are very important, because they determine whether or not your content ever gets seen. Experiment with a few headlines using split testing in email if you can.

Learn to Write Great Headlines Today

Better headlines lead to better online results. Take time to sharpen up your headline before your next article and you’ll increase your chances of success. ◆

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