How to write powerful headlines: a step-by-step guide

Basics of content writing – The beginner’s guide
May 15, 2017
Old domain vs new domain: Is it better to invest in old domain or buy a new one?
July 11, 2017
Show all

According to the Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 users on the internet tend to click on great headlines, only 2 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 maybe, write a bad title, and it loses its sheen. Write a great title and make more than two-third of who see it, click on it. Of course, you need to justify that attention grabbing headline with a well-written content.

Such is the power of a great headline. It can convert browsers into readers.

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 a few great headline 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 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 benefit the reader will be getting by viewing the content. How you convey it, makes all the difference.

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. In case you have more than one solution, simply make it more powerful by mentioning 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%. Or, if you are highlighting improvements, use ‘reasons why’ technique e.g. 10 reasons why your website is not getting more visitors. These headlines get excellent 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 in his concert and does this awesome thing, or, Justin Bieber walks to fans and what happened next will make you say wow. If you have a social media account with a lot of followers, this kind of headlines can impact your click-through rate (CTR) a lot.

Headlines that ask question work best for analytical articles. A headline that says, Are we heading towards an economic recession?, clearly conveys the message that the author talks about issues that can take an economy towards a potential recession. If your blog features articles from experts, this could be the way to go.

Another important aspect that is necessary to take care of is ‘Choice of words’. Instead of going fancy, and trying to show-off your strong vocabulary, consider using simple and effective words. Simpler it is, better it will connect to the users.

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

Ashwini Sah
Ashwini Sah
Ashwini Sah is a content strategist and developer. He has assisted various web-based start-ups with core content development and scale-up via adding more verticals of content. He blogs about content writing tips on ContentLane.com.

3 Comments

  1. Shashank says:

    Excellent tips Ashwini. I can clearly relate how much I would have gained in terms of traffic had someone taught me this earlier. Undoubtedly, writing a great headline is as important as writing a great content.

    Thanks for penning it down so simply and effectively.

  2. […] Now since you have learnt the basics of content writing, move on to read how to write powerful headlines. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *