Hook 'Em: Tips for Writing Compelling Headlines Your Readers Can’t Resist

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Learn 5 tips for writing compelling headlines and increase click-throughs to your content.

You work hard to create good content.

Why let your efforts drop because of poor headlines?

While most marketers work tirelessly to craft quality content complete with reputable sources, catchy voice, and plenty of valuable information, not everyone gives our headlines the time they deserve.

Luckily, it’s easy to fix this by learning to write killer headlines today. Read on for more.

The Lowdown: Headlines to Write Home About

Did you know that 80 percent of people read your headlines only? With statistics like that, it’s clear that crafting compelling headlines are crucial to the success of your web presence, from your blog to your emails. Better headlines equal more readers. It’s truly that simple.

According to most experts, you should spend about half of the total time you spend writing content to writing a headline.

So, for example, if it takes you an hour to write a thousand-word blog, you should spend approximately thirty minutes testing your headlines and trying on different formats. While this may seem like an extraneous amount of time for something as small as a headline, a headline is a tiny thing that makes a big difference.

In fact, it’s not an overestimation to say that writing better headlines can overhaul your entire content. Readers want to connect with your material and headlines are the first piece of your content that they see. If your headlines are well-crafted, intelligent, targeted, and interesting, the relationship has gotten off to a good start. Because of this, it’s worth all of the time and efforts it takes to write attention-grabbing headlines for your content.

Related Article: 10 Content Marketing Best Practices You Need To Implement Now

Write Better Headlines Today: Your Key 5 Tips

To write headlines your readers can’t help but click, follow these five tips:

1. Limit them to 65 characters

When I Google “writing good blog headlines,” check out what pops up: the top headline, by HubSpot, is too long and gets cut off in the search results.

Google search result for "writing good blog headlines"

The second headline, however, clocks in at 45 characters and shows up fully in the SERPs. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one looks better. To give your headline maximum punch and clickability, keep it between 60 to 65 characters (including spaces). This prevents it from being truncated in the SERPs and makes your content more attractive from the get-go.

2. Cut unnecessary words

Even if you keep your headlines to 60 characters, it’s possible to stuff them with a bunch of unnecessary words. Unfortunately, people only absorb the first and last three words in your headline and keeping them shorter by eliminating "unneeded" words is your best bet for ensuring people continue to pay attention.

Related Article:Analyze This: The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics

3. Use the Advanced Marketing Institute's headline tool to make it shine

Headlines that make a direct reference to your reader are much more personal than those that don’t; and there are words you can use to really make your headline shine. To grab your readers’ attention and keep it, work to craft question-focused headlines that pique interest and promise solutions. By speaking directly to the reader as early as your headlines, you create a conversational tone that can pervade the rest of your content.

To find out how effective your headlines are, use the AMI institute tool to measure impact. This tool looks for intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual words in your headlines and tells you how much of an impact they’re likely to have on your readers.

Screenshot of the Headline Analyzer

4. Use negative words selectively

As a writer, you’re always told to stay away from negative voice. In headlines, however, the careful use of negative voice can benefit you.

The reason for this is that negative voice inspires insecurity in readers and makes them pay more attention. For example, if you write a blog post titled “Stop Making These SEO Mistakes Today,” your readers are more likely to click because they want to know if they are making the mistakes you’re referencing.

Research has shown that blog titles that include “stop,” “no,” or “without,” earn more shares, and while you don’t want to focus only on the negative voice in your headlines, it’s a tool you should know how to use.

5. Always use numbers (in digit form)

“100 Things to Love About X,” “10 Ways to Cope with Wedding Planning Disasters,” “20 Ways to Clean Your Home in 5 Minutes.” What do these headlines all have in common? That’s right, they use numbers (written as digits instead of written words), and the approach grabs the reader’s attention. Readers today are all about efficiency.

When we see titles that advertise numbered lists, we associate the post with simple steps and well-organized content that helps us get what we need. Because of this, it’s wise always to use numbers rather than words in your headlines. This magnifies the impact on the reader and helps form a connection between them and your content.

Related Article:Create Better Content With These Content Marketing Rules to Live By

Fantastic First Impressions: Why Great Headlines Matter

When it comes to boosting the effectiveness of your online content, headlines are the place to start. In addition to grabbing reader attention and broadcasting the subject of your post, headlines also provide the first impression of your content, which is huge.

We’ve all heard the saying that you only get one chance at a first impression, and the first impressions made by great headlines can be invaluable to your content. Because of this, it’s critical to take the time needed to learn to craft great headlines. While a significant portion of writing compelling headlines is learning the tricks (keeping it below 65 characters and using numbers, for example), a larger part is simply trial and error.

You can’t expect to craft White House-worthy headlines in your first post, so you need to be open to learning and growing as your writing evolves. Keep paying attention to the number of shares and attention your various headlines earn and then seek to continue reproducing your most efficient ones.

While learning to craft killer headlines is an ongoing process, it’s one that has the potential to overhaul your content completely.

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