Lesson 4: Learn to write powerful headlines

According to the Copyblogger, eight out of 10 users on the internet click on great headlines, only two out of 10 visit the rest. Putting it simpler, 80% of the internet traffic goes to articles that have a catchy headline. It takes only seconds for the users to decide whether they would be clicking on your headline or not. No matter how great your content is, a bad title would completely ruin it.

However, there’s no ‘One formula fits all’ thing applicable here. For different types of content, you need to have different approaches. Here are some headline writing tips with examples.

The headline for a news article should be self-explanatory. That said, it should clearly convey the message or break the news. You can, however, garnish it with more information or your views on the matter. But make sure it doesn’t become too long.

  • Example 1: Donald Trump wins the presidential election
  • Example 2: Donald Trump wins U.S. election in astonishing victory (as CBC reported it)
  • Example 3: Donald Trump wins presidential election, plunging US into uncertain future (as The Guardian reported it)

The first example simply breaks the news, the second one adds more information to the matter i.e. the victory was astonishing, while the third one shows the editor’s viewpoint on the matter.

Points to remember:

  • Make sure the headline length is ideal. It should neither be too short, or too long.
  • Always use the present tense if the tone is in Active voice
    • e.g. Tesla launches model 3 in two variants, starts at $xxx
  • You can, however, use past tense if the tone is in Passive voice
    • e.g. Tesla model 3 launched for $xxx, booking starts next month

For blogs, How-to guides, analytical articles, editorials, listicles and everything else, the headline should clearly convey the benefits the reader will be getting by viewing the content. How you convey it, matters a lot.

For How-to guides, directly mentioning the problem that it solves works best. For example, How to download a YouTube video, or How to get more visitors to your website, directly conveys the benefit in the most efficient way.

Headlines with ‘a definite number’ work even better. Mentioning number represents the confidence of a writer and creates trust e.g. 3 easy ways to download a YouTube video. You can make it more powerful by using two numbers e.g. 5 ways to increase your website traffic by 300%. You can also use ‘reasons why’ technique e.g. 10 reasons why your website is not getting more visitors. These headlines get excellent click-through rate (CTR) when they appear on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Headlines that build curiosity work best for the social media traffic e.g. Justin Bieber walks to audience and does this awesome thing, or, Justin Bieber walks to fans and what happened next will amaze you.

Headlines that ask question work best for analytical articles. A headline that says, Are we heading towards an economic recession?, conveys the message that the author talks about issues that can take an economy towards a potential recession.

You need to be careful in choosing which technique would work best with your content. Make sure your content justifies the headline, or else authority of your website might become questionable with time.

Back to: Content Writing for Beginners

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mohammad Jahirul Islam

    I am determined to get skilled at writing catchy HEADINGs.

  2. Jeremy Chiemelie

    Nice tutorial. Please use colours to specify links(maybe orange or some other colour).

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