9 ways to write better headlines

Published by Clara on

The intention of a headline is to capture attention and encourage onward reading. But with so much online content vying for clicks, how can you make your headlines stand out from the crowd? 

The following writing tips will help you craft headlines that work. Learn how to use numbers, emotions, questions and more to create headlines that are impossible to ignore.

1. Use specific numbers or statistics to make your headlines more tangible

Studies have shown that using odd numbers in a headline (e.g. “Seven Ways t o Save More Money) increases click-through rates by 20 per cent compared to using even numbers (e.g. “Six Ways to Save More Money”). Odd numbers are believed to be more specific and memorable than even numbers.

2. Use provocative or controversial language to create a sense of intrigue

A bold or attention-grabbing statement can prompt readers to think deeply about a topic. Use powerful words and adjectives to grab attention and include numbers or statistics to show the importance of your subject – aim to be specific. 

Remember, while it’s important to grab readers’ attention with your headline, you must back it up with quality content that lives up to the hype. So, make sure your article supports your headline with compelling information and analysis. 

3. Make the benefit clear by including the end result in your headline

Including the end result in your headline helps readers understand what they can expect from the article. It also creates curiosity and interest, which increases the chances of somebody clicking through to read more. Furthermore, including the result in the headline can help to boost your rankings on search engines.

4. Address the reader directly by using “you” or “your” in the headline

Addressing the reader directly using “you” or “your” in the headline can make it more personalised and engaging. It creates a sense of connection with the reader, making them feel like the content is tailored specifically for them. 

Using “you” or “your” can also make the headline more persuasive by suggesting to the reader that the content will provide them with something that they need or want.

5. Ask a question that piques the reader’s curiosity

Asking a question that makes the reader think will make them want to read the article to find the answer. For example: What is the Secret Ingredient That Top Chefs Swear By? Using specific numbers or humour in a headline can also entice readers and make them more likely to click.

6. Use powerful words that evoke strong emotions.

Power words are important in headlines because they can help to convey information, evoke emotion, hook the reader and tell a story. Effectively, they introduce an article and encourage people to engage with the content. 

Some examples of power words include fantastic, apocalypse, crisis, fooled, horrific, invasion, panic, mistake, demand, need, purchase, sale, grab, limited, get, only, secret, proven ways, guaranteed, happiness, humour and prestige. 

Check out this excellent list from Indeed for more ideas.

7. Keep headlines under 10 words.

Research shows that the most effective headlines are short and sweet, ideally no more than 10 words. If you find it challenging to write succinctly, try limiting yourself to five words. This approach will encourage you to carefully consider the meaning behind each word you choose to use.

8. Use bold or italicised text to make your headline stand out visually

The use of bold or italicised text adds emphasis and makes it easier for readers to scan and quickly understand the crux of the article. It can also help create a hierarchy of information, as important words or phrases are emphasised and stand out more prominently than surrounding text.

9. Test your headlines with different variations to see which performs the best

Test your headlines with different variations to understand what resonates with your audience the most. By testing your headlines, you can see which variation attracts the most clicks, views or engagement, and then use that knowledge to improve your future headlines.