7 Effective Headline Writing Tips

According to a study by CopyBlogger, only 20% of people who read your headline will read the rest of the article. So, if you want your posts to perform well, an effective headline is a must.

Fortunately, using a few simple technique, you can write headlines that will generate thousands of visitors.

In this article, you’ll discover seven headline writing techniques that will boost your search traffic, rankings and social shares:

1. Begin With Numbers

Number Headline

Headline containing specific numbers and data perform far better than other types of headlines. According to one study, headlines with number generate 73% more social shares and engagement. This is because list posts are easier to read.

You can use low numbers to illustrate the conciseness of your article. Or you can use high numbers to illustrate the comprehensiveness. Just try not use too high of a number. People might think the article won’t be easy to read.

All kinds of number work well in the headline. But odd number tend to work better. They appear less conventionally packaged. The odd number 7 works best. According to one study, click-through rates increased by 20%, when a headline was tweaked to include the number 7.

When you are writing a headline, don’t type out the number. Use numerical numbers. So, instead of writing “Seven Steps To Start A Blog”, write “7 Steps To Start A Blog”.

2. Highlight Value

Highlight Value

Make the benefit of reading the article clear and direct in the headline. This is why How-to headlines always work well.

The general format is:

How to + Action (do something) + Unique benefit

“How To Fall Asleep No Matter Where You Are” is a good example. Here, “Fall Asleep” is the action. “No Matter Where You Are” is the unique benefits.

Many people don’t add the unique benefits in the headline. This makes for a boring headline. “How To Fall Asleep No Matter Where You Are” is much more interesting than just “How To Fall Asleep”.

People distrust outrageous claims. So make sure your unique benefit is believable.

3. Pique Curiosity

Headlines with question arouse curiosity. It can be effective if you can compose them the right way.

The best question the one that the reader can relate to or would like to see answered.

Ask the question directly to your reader. Don’t just ask:

What’s the best way to generate traffic?

Ask them directly:

Do you know the best way to generate traffic?

Directly asking them often make them seek an answer.

Also never answer the question in the headline. If your reader already knows the answer, they will see no reason to read the article.

4. Stay Away From Positive Superlatives

We always try to be positive in our conversation. But being positive isn’t an effective idea when it comes to headline.

A study by OutBrain found that the average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives ( such as “never” or “worst”) was a staggering 63% higher than that of their positive counterparts (such as “always” or “best”).

Headline with positive superlative, in fact, worked worse than headlines with no superlative. They had 29% less click-rate. One reason this happens might be the overuse of positive superlative (such as best, fastest or cheapest) in marketing. People now ignore them.

Negative superlative on the other hand are more unexpected and intriguing. People are more likely to see them as authentic and genuine.

5. Add Adjective & Unique Rationale

The adjective is the part of speech that describes or qualifies a noun or pronoun in a given sentence. Unlike positive superlatives, correctly used adjectives can create interest.

Here are 30 powerful adjectives you can incorporate in your headline:

  • Absolute
  • Advanced
  • Bold
  • Brilliant
  • Brutally Honest
  • Controversial
  • Daring
  • Dazzling
  • Delightful
  • Effortless
  • Enduring
  • Exceptional
  • Eye Opening
  • Fascinating
  • Forgotten
  • Generous
  • Humorous
  • Idiotic
  • Irresistible
  • Magical
  • Obnoxious
  • Painstaking
  • Proven
  • Provocative
  • Refreshing
  • Sensational
  • Spectacular
  • Staggering
  • Thrilling
  • Witty

These adjectives will grab your reader’s interest and intrigue them enough to read your article.

The definition of rationale is: a logical basis for a course of action. Here are some unique rationales you can use that will guarantee a boost in your click-through rate:

  • Tricks
  • Ways
  • Reasons
  • Lessons
  • Secrets
  • Strategies
  • Ideas

6. Use Punctuation

According to a study conducted by Content Marketing Institute, simply adding a hyphen or colon increases headline click-through rate by 9%.

It’s an easy technique to use. Here are some examples:

“An Editor’s Rant: 7 Questions Every Writer Should Be Asking”
“Creating a Brand Identity: 20 Questions You Must Ask Before Starting”

7. Use Proven Formula

How To headlines are used a lot. And they work well. We already mentioned one formula. Here are some other common examples:

How to [Achieve Something Specific]

How to [Achieve Something Specific] and [Do Seemingly Impossible Thing]

How to [Achieve Something Specific] without [objectionable action]

How to [Do Something] like a boss.

How [I/We/Company X] [Achieved Something Specific] in [Time Frame]

There are also some that defy classification but works well:

(The) [Famous Group/Person’s] guide to [Blank]

What [Group or Celebrity] can teach you about (Industry)

[Number] little-known factors that could affect your [Blank]

All you need to know about [Specific Topic]

The [Adjective] Guide to [Specific Topic]

Behind the Scenes of a [Profession/Hobby]

Warning: [Blank]

Why [x] trumps [y]


New content marketing strategies are emerging every day. So it’s very difficult to figure out what works and what doesn’t. But these advice are evergreen. They always work.

After you complete writing a post, write 10-12 headlines. This may sound a lot, but the more you write, the more options you will have to choose from. Some will be terrible. Some will be better. Go with the one that sounds best. If you can’t choose one, share them on social media. Go with the one that gets the most traction.

There are also many online tools that you can use. Inbound Now has an automatic headline idea generator. Sharethrough’s analyzer tells you how engaging your headline is. CoSchedule has a brilliant data-backed tool that will score your headline’s overall quality.

It is true that a great headline can make a difference. But writing a great headline isn’t enough. You need to give equal effort to write better content.