How to Write a Headline

Engaging content is the cornerstone of every successful website. The problem is, you may be a fantastic writer, but a lot of times people won’t click on your articles unless your headline sells them on the idea first. If you don’t know how to write a headline that sparks interest, your road to success will be long.

A great headline tells visitors what to expect and assures them they’ll find what they need. This means your goal is to make sure no one overlooks your titles, and that they don’t move on to the next result on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

In this article, we’re going to talk a bit more about why engaging headlines are so important. Then we’ll go over three tips on how to write a headline that gets more clicks so you can boost your site’s traffic. Let’s get to it!

Why compelling headlines are essential to your blog’s success

Every time you look something up online using a search engine, you’re likely to get hundreds of results back. Many people try to pick from one of the top results as the assumption is that they are the best bets. However, some of this judgement depends on the title of the page too.

Let’s experiment with a simple search. We ran a Google search using the key phrase ‘smartphone 2019’. Here are the top results:

A Google search about smartphones in 2019.

You’ll likely take these four potential results, and judge which one to click on depending on its title. For example, if you care about 5G, you’ll go with the first one. On the other hand, if you want to know about any upcoming phones, you’ll click on options two or three. Finally, if you want some guidance on what to buy right now, there’s link number four.

All four of these examples use good headlines. They tell you exactly what to expect, include positive adjectives – and more importantly – they get clicks. When you’re running a website, organic traffic can make or break you, so you want to optimize your headlines to attract as many clicks as possible.

How to write a headline that gets more clicks (3 tips)

If you pay attention to SERPs, you’ll notice a lot of websites use similar formulas for their titles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it means you can follow in their footsteps to increase your Click-Through Rate (CTR).

We’re going to give you three simple tips to help learn how to write a headline. However, for the best possible results, we recommend you track how your headlines perform over time after you apply those tips. This way, you’ll figure out what kind of titles resonate the most with your audience.

1. Introduce a hook

A few years ago, it got pretty common to see headlines such as these all around the internet:

  • 7 Ways Avocado Can Improve Your Hair (You Won’t Believe Number 5!)
  • Man Tries to Hug a Wild Lion, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!
  • 21 stars who ruined their face due to plastic surgery. Talk about regrets!

Those are what we call ‘clickbait’ headlines. Titles such as those use ‘hooks’ to reel you in. While these are extreme examples, hooks can work just as well without being annoying. For example, here’s a quick show of the results you get if you look for ‘avocado benefits’:

Researching the health benefits of eating avocado.

There’s a pattern among those results: they all use health as their main hook. Headlines that use a hook tend to do better overall, so it’s your job to identify what angle can work best for each of your posts.

Usually, you can do this by asking yourself “Who wants to read this and why?”. The answer to those questions will tell you what your content’s hook is, which you can then use as part of its title.

2. Include numbers whenever possible

When it comes to online content, people love titles with numbers. In fact, in a survey by Conductor, respondents found headlines with numbers to be the most preferable “formula”:

(Chart by Visualizer.)

For example, 10 Best Smartphones in 2019 will beat Best Smartphones in 2019 almost every time. It’s the same headline, but adding a number enables people to anchor the value of the content they’re going to see.

Let’s return to the avocado results page to check if this holds true:

Looking up the benefits of eating avocados.

You can see five results within that screenshot, four out of which include numbers in their titles. Even two of the video results use numbers, so you can see this is quite a popular trend.

Numbered articles also tend to be easier to digest, because they’re better structured. Plus, you can easily play this structure to your advantage by adding more sections, which increases your content’s perceived value when users look at its title. However, you should never add sections to pad your numbers.

3. Be as specific as you can

If you take another look at the title examples we’ve discussed so far, you’ll notice they tend to be rather specific. For example, here are two hypothetical headlines:

  • 5 WordPress Image-Related Plugins
  • 5 WordPress Plugins to Optimize Your Website’s Images

As you might imagine, option number two is the winner here. The reason why this is a good way how to write a headline is because it tells readers exactly what they can expect from your content. Being descriptive pays off when it comes to titles, and you don’t have to take our word for it. Here are some of the top results you’ll find if you use the keywords ‘WordPress image plugins’:

Looking up WordPress image plugins.

All of those results cover ‘image’ plugins, but some of them fall into different categories. You have gallery plugins and tools for photographers, and each title gives you the information you need to decide which results to click.

Keep in mind, though – there’s such a thing as being too descriptive. If your titles are over 60 characters, Google won’t display them in its entirety, which can diminish their impact. In any case, 60 characters offers plenty of scope to include a descriptive title, including numbers and a hook.

Conclusion

The next time you’re working on a new post for your WordPress website, take a minute to think about its headline. If it comes across as vague or boring, your content might not get the attention it deserves. Just making a few tweaks can drastically increase your pages’ click-through rates, so it makes sense to track your headline’s performance.

In our experience, there are three things you can do to craft headlines that achieve excellent results:

  1. Introduce a hook.
  2. Include numbers whenever possible.
  3. Be as specific as you can.

Do you have any questions about how to write a headline that gets results? Ask away in the comments section below!

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