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The Key To Writing Great Headlines That Drive More Traffic

Posted on March 27, 2015 by in Tips & Tricks | 26 comments

The Key To Writing Great Headlines That Drive More Traffic

When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies to watch was Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. What can I say — those puppies were so stinkin’ cute!

One of the movie’s quotes that always stuck with me was something Rodger says to Anita:

“Melody first, my dear, and then the lyrics.”

It’s a rule that many musicians stick to, but his words have some application for today’s topic.

Headlines to articles and blog posts are much like the melody that set the tone for the rest of what you’re about to write .

Much like a catchy melody, a Headline is more likely to stick in someone’s mind and grab attention. Therefore, the ability to compose headlines that catch people’s attention and inspire them to read what you have to say is one of the most important things any blogger and copywriter could ever learn.

If that’s not enough to convince you, then let’s take a few minutes to consider some reasons why building an amazing headline is the true foundation of any blog post.

Why Does Your Headline Matter?

So why? Why should you care so much about your headline? Because of this sound:

*Click*

That one sound, that single action is the difference between a blog post that gets read and one that gets skipped over for another post with a title that is better than yours.

Here is a rather famous quote from the Godfather of Advertising himself, David Ogilvy:

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

A headline is so much more than just words that say what your post will be about. They should be built on the idea of increasing your click-through rate and a part of your marketing strategy as a whole.

A blogger who can write such a headline takes their game up from being just another run-of-the-mill blogger to being something closer to that of a skilled Copywriter. (Yes, there is a difference.)

Headlines are what convert your potential audience to your actual audience and your blog post is what should keep them coming back for more. However, your money is in that headline.

However, your money, as David Ogilvy brought out, is in that headline.

If you want to take things up a notch (and you should), then here are some easy ways to take your next blog post title from good to click-worthy.

5 Tips for Easily Creating Magnetic Headlines

How to write magnetic headlines

Image by Anikei via Shutterstock

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to learn how to the art of Headline Copy — great! But, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Uh… how exactly do I do that?”

Though it’s true that writing compelling headlines is something that will take some time to practice and master, you don’t need to be a genius to come of up with something that helps you generate more traffic.

Here are 5 simple tips to help you get started:

1) The Tried and True How-To Headline

People love How-To posts, and it’s not something that works with a single topic. You can write How-To posts about anything and your title doesn’t have to be complicated or take too long to create.

Your headline for this is simple:

  • How To [Fill in the Blank]

Easy-peezy! The Elegant Themes blog is full of How-To posts that are rather popular and have received many comments and social shares:

Though you can create something pretty simple out of this, you can also use it to create something that’s even more compelling

For example:

  • How To Write 2,000 Words a Day | This is simple and can attract a reader who is looking to learn about how to write more efficiently.
  • How To Write 3,000 Words Before Lunch Without Breaking a Sweat | This headline reflects something similar to the one above, however, it is infinitely better. The headline, without being very long, gives a reader the hope of learning how to do a lot more in a short time with a lot less work on something that they really want to learn. Result? *Click*

2) Lists

Another semi-easy way to create headlines that rock is to create a numbered list post with a corresponding title. People love lists because they make the brain think that they don’t have to do as much work to understand the topic at hand.

List Posts have the potential of going viral. These also take some time to master, but creating them and measuring the response from your audience will help you hone your skill in creating them.

Here are a few examples of about to write up a list headline:

  • 7 Ways [To Accomplish a Certain Task]
  • 10 Steps to [Fill In The Blank]
  • 101 Reasons Why [Fill In The Blank]
  • The Top X Ways to[Fill In The Blank]

7 is pretty much the magic number of list posts so if you’re going to start off trying one of these out, then try your list post and headline with that number.

Just as a tip, list posts are supposed to be more like bite-sized bits of information so keep each of your points short, sweet and to the point so that you don’t overwhelm your reader.

3) Reveal a Secret

Even for those of us who aren’t the gossip mongers that some of our friends may be, I’m sure we all still love to get the jump on some juicy secret. Headlines that promise to reveal secrets quickly pique curiosity and prompt clicks.

I mean, if you’re a blogger wanting to learn more about online marketing, wouldn’t you click on a headline like this?

  • The Number One Secret All Online Marketing Gurus Don’t Want Your To Learn

What’s the secret? Why don’t they want me to know it? What’s the big deal? (*Click*)

Powerful, right?

4) Resolve an Issue

Everyone runs into a situation in life that is like an itch they just can’t scratch — and it’s annoying as heck! Play Doctor Blogger and help them resolve their issue with a headline that starts like this:

  • Get Rid of [Insert Issue Here]

The Issue can be anything, but the words, “Get Rid of” prompt a mental sigh of relief. Now you just have to deliver with something useful and epic.

5) Make Is Fast and Easy

We live in a whirlwind world. People are busy with life and work and they just need a bit of simplicity to make things a little less complicated in are the crazy.

Here are some headline idea to deliver the goods:

  • Quick and Easy [Fill in the Blank]
  • The Quick and Simple Way to [Fill in the Blank]

The headline says it all: fast and easy.

Your Quick Reference for Creating Headlines That Suck People In

Using the ideas above are just to help you generate some headlines, but there are other ways to take those headlines further.

This part of the post is dedicated to be a short and quick reference area to that you can always come back to help you kick up some ideas in order to jumpstart your headline creating so be sure to bookmark the page or pin it in Pinterest so that you don’t lose it.

Stick to a formula. Use Neil Patel’s Infographic on writing good lines as a starting reference. Everything you want to do when you’re starting out is on this image so keep it close by:

Use Power Words. What are those? Power words are words that trigger a response. Can’t think of any? Well, Jon Morrow has over 300 that you can use as part of your headline to boost that clicks and traffic:

Try Out A Headline Analyzing Tool. CoSchedule has a great and free tool to help you test out the potency of your headlines and thus help you take out a lot of the guess work. The tool is based more on creating headlines with power words and words that trigger an emotional response but it’s still amazing:

Your Headline Hacking Homework and Worksheets

If you’ve managed to get this far in the post, then my guess is that you’re serious about learning how to write headlines. If that’s true, then roll up your sleeves and dig in, baby!

Below are some great articles, e-books and worksheets to help you master the art of Headline Copy.

Article Thumbnail by Mascha Tace via Shutterstock

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26 Comments

  1. Thank you for great tips. The headline of my next article will be: “7 things you need…”. 🙂

  2. Great tips Ariel. As a musician I love that quote and the analogy you make with good headlines.

    Thanks for sharing all the additional resources too 🙂

  3. I deliberately don’t click on “clickbait” headlines like “The number one secret so-and-so doesn’t want you to know” and “You won’t believe what happens next”.

    I think they’re awful.

  4. Hi Ariel
    I wrote this article ages ago and it’s about speech titles but it does apply to post titles.

    Towards the end of the article I say:

    “So write your speech in full then read it through and find that magic phrase that sums up your speech and that’s your title.”

    http://easypublicspeaking.co.uk/speech-titles/

  5. Unlike a movie where you can’t return your tickets, with an article you can always click the back button. The main problem is that these headlines that supposedly drive more traffic are always following short. They are too superficial.

    I would much prefer an honest title, and then let the content be brilliant. Nevertheless if what you’re saying is true, then we are all hopelessly searching for answers just to be disappointed after every single click.

  6. Thank you for a great short article on the use of Headlines. It was appreciated and I saw several areas where you have helped me out.
    Continued success.
    B Well.
    james

  7. Great article!

  8. Your headline should have been: How To Write Great Headlines That Drive More Traffic 😉

    • I agree with Tony about the headline suggestion that he gave you for this article.

  9. Hey Ariel !

    Great tips indeed ! Thanks for sharing these with us. 🙂

  10. How important is a catchy title vs. SEO? I write tactical gear reviews and almost always just put something like “Urban Armor Gear Tactical iPhone 6Case Review”. How will google rank it if I put a catchy title that doesn’t say the product or review in it? Do the increased clicks make it irrelevant?
    Thanks,
    – Will

    • Will you use a catchy title in your post and then add a different title, for SEO purposes, using one of the SEO plugins such as Yoast’s WordPress SEO.

      That gives you the best of both worlds.

      • Thanks!!!

  11. This is excellent – a lot of people can learn a lot by reading this, very similar stuff to how BuzzFeed and all those big viral content sites come up with great titles that people simply feel obliged to click regardless of topic.

    Thanks guys!

  12. How do you come up with a good title to get people to get you’re service

  13. Excellent Ariel!
    Could not be better.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Ariel

      Hi Alex, I’m glad you like the post 🙂

  14. Writing catchy Headlines is a great way to boost your website’s traffic! Thank you for the tips mate. Another tip would be to create and use only High quality content, because after all Content is KING! Make sure to always check if the content is relevant to your keywords and your niche, and that your backlinks are High quality and relevant.

    • Ariel

      Couldn’t agree more :). The headline is important, but the follow through is what counts in the long run

  15. Some useful tips here. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Why is every word in your headlines starting with a capital letter? Does this have to trigger the mind to read more focussed, or is it just a designer thing?

  17. Great article! There’s a ton of useful traffic strategies in here. Free traffic is getting a bad wrap lately (mainly because the top dogs are buying out entire niches)but there are still tons of cool and effective ways to blast tons a traffic to your blog for free.

    One of the top affiliate marketers in the world built an empire using nothing other than these ways to generate free traffic. This guy is always re-creating current tactics and making them very effective again. He’s got a bunch of webinars and free eBooks that break down his methods. He just released another new method the other day. I’ve seen it and I would definitely give it a look.

    Here’s the link to check it out: http://bit.ly/1OaWb36

    Really great article, I’ll be using some of these in my traffic gameplan, and I’ll be subscribing for more!

    Cheers,
    Bill

  18. That one I need thank you give me awesome articles. I will apply this tip in my post title.

  19. These are great tips for writing better content headlines. That movie quote suits what you are trying to say. First the melody, then the lyrics. First the headlines, then the body.

  20. As a new blogger and writer, and as a worker bee that is helping a small business with a new website I found this advice very helpful. However, I will agree with Andrea Gately’s response above in that I too will not click on “The Number One Secret All Online Marketing Gurus Don’t Want Your To Learn Right Now” type of headlines. These headline baits always seem shady to me and I feel I can find more appropriate information through other avenues. Thank you for the helpful information!

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