Even if you’ve written the best blog post in the world, no one will read it without a winning headline.
Because you have to win the click. And that is the job of the headline.
This post will teach you how to write a compelling headline that draws clicks without being clickbait.
A headline is a title, a name.
A good headline does three things:
- Attract the reader’s attention
- Make the reader curious enough to click
- Describe the content precisely
If you can do all three in a single sentence, you’ll get all of the readers you want.
A good headline leads to your article. In fact, for the most part, your headline is the only factor that will tell people whether your article is worth reading.
And depending on the platform they appear on, headlines compete for attention in different ways.
Your article is featured in an endless string of alarming news, posts from your audience’s favorite people, and ads tailored to get the brain from surfing to buying. Now just remember that people’s attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. Your headline has to compete against all of these highly skilled competitors and win.
In email subject lines
The average office worker gets 121 emails per day. Even if only 10% of those are newsletters with links to blog posts, most people don’t read 12 posts a day. They choose the few most compelling based on their headlines.
From the search results
The average website will almost 2/3 of the traffic from Google. A good headline increases the likelihood that searchers will click your page while seeing the other results.
Writing a headline is not that difficult. You can learn the basics using a simple three tier system. Just keep a few things in mind as you work through it:
- You should write your headlines for Google Searcherssince, as mentioned earlier, most of your traffic is most likely from search.
- It’s usually best to write your headline before writing your blog post, so this system takes that approach. Even so, you can use any step to refine an ad hoc headline.
- You should avoid clickbait by keeping the true content of the article in mind as you go through the steps. Often times, if you write a headline after you’ve written the article, you will over-promise what the readers will get from the article. If the item doesn’t deliver, well, that’s clickbait.
But you will deliver. Because you have Rebekah Beks expert guidance 😉
Now let’s write this headline!
- Choose a format
- Add a winning angle
- Make it human
1. Choose a format
Let’s say you are writing a review about the best protein powders. Any of these heading formats could work:
- List: The 10 Best Protein Powders to Build Muscle in 2021
- How one: How to choose the best protein powder for you
- Tutorial: Best protein powder: choose the best in 6 steps
- Opinion: Is there really such a thing as the best protein powder? Science says no
- review: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Review: The Best Protein Powder
- comparison: Optimal Nutrition vs. MyProtein: Which is the Best Protein Powder?
But keep this in mind for most websites the main traffic source is Google. So don’t just pick the heading format that’s right for you. You should choose the one that searchers are actually looking for so that you have the best chance of ranking.
How can you do that
Take a look at the current top ranking pages for your target keyword on Google and see if there is a dominant point of view. You can see that the top three “Best Protein Powder” articles are all listicles.
Note, however, that Google’s search results are personalized based on factors like your location and search history. To combat this, use Ahrefs SEO Toolbar in an incognito tab to simulate a search in your target country and language.
Remember that the type of headline that works best will vary depending on the topic. While a listicle headline is best for a post on the best protein powders, a how-to headline is better for the post you are reading. And your topic may need an opinion piece. It all depends on the search data.
If you’re writing a heading for an existing post that doesn’t match the dominant viewing angle in search results, consider changing the viewing angle with minor changes. For example, you can quickly turn a tutorial into a listicle by dragging a few words around:
Write Your Best Headline: A Six Step System
6 ways to write a good headline
2. Add a winning angle
Now that you’ve set the format, you need to find the prime angle.
Using the same articles from the last step, look for any distinguishing words. For example, if you look at Listicles, most articles start with “# Best Protein Powders for …”
What comes after “to the” is the angle. When it comes to the “best protein powder”, gender dominates. ie “For men” or “For women”.
But there are other options in that SERP also like:
- “For better nutrition “
- “For every diet “
- “To you”
In choosing your point of view, you need to weigh the desires of the seeker against what you can adequately write about. If you are an expert and you know that one angle makes a lot more sense than another, this is the angle you should take.
If there is no obvious dominant aspect, focus on a clear benefit, a differentiating factor of your product / service, or just something that is not yet in focus, as long as it is something that your readers want to achieve.
- “To lose weight”
- “To build muscle “
- “For filling “
Once you have the basic parts of your headline i.e. format and angles, there is just one thing left to do …
3. Make it human
To really resonate with readers, you need to humanize your headline.
If you are human this should be easy. Use adjectives or phrases that would casually describe the article to your best friend.
So instead of “10 Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss”, you may have:
- “10 best protein powders for effortless Weight loss “
- “10 best protein powders for lose the pounds”
- “10 best protein powders too be shredded”
To make this process easier, use your readers’ language. In every industry there is jargon, slang and there is this personal way that people who are knowledgeable talk about their favorite things. If you have the time, read as many articles as you can on your topic.
You can also browse social media on your topic. Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great places to find niche phrases and community-specific language. Some subreddits even contain a wiki and glossary that define keywords.
Using this information, you can choose a heading like “17 Protein Powders To Help You Meet Your Macronutrient Goals” or “14 Protein Powders For Quick, Easy Transport, Preparation, And Consumption”.
Choosing a winning format, angle, and “making it human” is enough for the “basic” step-by-step process of writing a successful headline.
However, after years of making headlines, we have four tips for you.
1. Add concreteness
The more specific your headline, the easier it is to read. The easier it is to read, the more people will like it. The more people like it, the more likely they are to click on it.
It’s that simple. And specificity comes from tangible, real objects.
For example, instead of “weight gain protein powders”, try “15 delicious protein powders that will help you gain 1 pound of muscle a week”.
2. Surprise and joy
If your goal is to get traffic from places other than organic search, e.g. For example, from social media, search intent matching may not be as important. You can make a bigger impact by saying something interesting and unusual to get people to stop and click.
We did this a few years ago with our post “I asked 235 people to tweet my article …”.
There is no real formula for this; It depends on knowing your audience, the language they are using, and what is likely to resonate with them.
3. Curiosity creates gaps
Share your information with everyone except who you want to arouse their curiosity, such as: B. “Everyone’s doing x but you!” Just make sure you back up this claim in your article so it isn’t just another clickbait piece.
4. Test headline variations
If you publish your article on social media platforms, you can choose a different title. Test variations on the main topic to see if a headline gets more clicks, likes, comments, and shares. Then use this as the main post title.
Creating a successful headline is not rocket science. It’s marketing science. And that’s a lot easier. By using the three tier system outlined above, you can compete with the best writers in your industry.
When you’re ready to become the best headline writer yourself, check out the classics of copywriting. They all have their own evidence-based headline formulas with theory to back them up.
These five books have taught me the most:
- Scientific advertisement by Claude Hopkins. Introduced the concept of ‘Copy test“By describing the most effective headlines used in direct response marketing around 1923.
- Tested advertising methods by John Caples. Claude Hopkins’ methods were refined for another decade. Contains the most successful headline formulas that are still getting clicks almost a century later.
- Breakthrough advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Introduced the idea of ’Brand awareness“And how to market at each consumer level.
- The Wizard of Publicity by Roy Williams. This is a more modern, personal favorite that takes one of the most unique approaches to copywriting.
- Great leads from Michael Masterson. Focuses solely on how you write that first line of text to get the most impact on your audience.
And once you’re a headline-writing expert, tweak the rest of your article with Si Quan Ong’s magical guide for SEO Copywriting.
Feel free report on Twitter and ask me to drop you [head]Line!