headline writing tips

Writing a memorable headline matters if you want to boost traffic and gain conversions. For any website, these key metrics indicate success in both the short and long term. If you want to improve your click-throughs and gain conversions, you need to start by considering how teasers play into that process. Here’s some headline writing tips to start you off:


Know Your Sources

Several sources generate views online including, social media, SEO, email marketing and backlinks. Each of these sources requires a strong statement to compel readers to click through. Understanding how they attract visitors to your website can help you craft attractive phrases.

Social Media: When users post links to your website, the title on the page automatically generates. For blog posts and articles, this allows users to preview the title, the feature image and the first few sentences. Although the post content can be edited, few users edit the text featured in the preview. Make the most of this preview by creating a statement that users desire to click.

SEO: Although some writers focus solely on keyword saturation within the body copy, your position on search engine result pages (SERP) matters little if readers never click on your content. In fact, these teasers can boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) over time. The more users click through to your website, the higher trust ranking your website will earn. Search engines take many factors into consideration when evaluating website and trust rankings play a role in that decision. So, you must start your content with a statement that will both attract readers and preview the upcoming content. Below, I have collected several writing tips that will boost your audience and raise conversions.

Email Marketing: Whether you are sending a one-time email blast, an automation, or a newsletter, links to content can generate interest in your website. However, clicks only come when the preview is interesting. Although you can pick a different title and featured image, this is both confusing and creates extra work. Let the reader know what to expect by adding a preview to your post that reflects the destination page.

Back and Inbound links: For trust rankings, SEO, pageviews, and backlinks are a golden source of conversions. Internal backlinks occur when you link to your own pages or posts in your website. Inbound links occur when another website links to your content. In each scenario, the title will give you credibility. First, the person backlinking can easily create a preview of your content when they use you as a source. Second, the person considering an inbound link to your content will be more likely to understand and find your article if the title is strong.


Use Action Verbs

Although passive voice can sometimes attract readers, action verbs remain a solid choice to drive a response. An action verb tells someone what to do or shows what the subject is doing. If the phrase tells your audience to do something, whether mental or physical, they are more likely to act. Additionally, this helps them visualize their next steps after they finish reading your content.

To craft a compelling statement, consider adding an action verb, such as succeed, accomplish, beat, exceed, amaze, astound, energize, or electrify. Each of these words punch through the clutter and tell your reader what to do next. It automatically links your unread article with something they should do. This makes the upcoming content tempting. When in doubt, an action verb makes your title irresistible.


Avoid Extra Adjectives, Adverbs and Filler Words

Adjectives and adverbs boost writing when they are interesting or unique. However, filler words like “very” just make the headline longer without adding meaning. In general, readers avoid long phrases and gloss over wordy sections. Readers have short attention spans, so you need to make sure you’re headline is direct and clear.

Knowing that readers will not read a long string of words encourages writers to make every character count. If you are going to use descriptive terms, pick words that clarify and define your statement. Then, read it back to make sure each word deserves a spot at the top of your content.


Stick to One Point

This tip starts with the content of your article. When you read your body copy, there should be one main point for the reader to glean. Otherwise your body copy will confuse and frustrate the reader. Similarly, the headline must focus on that key point. If not, it will both mislead and confuse your audience. Even if you are crafting clever wordplay, the topic should be clear. Key words, usually the object or subject of the statement, will tip off the reader about the forthcoming content. Then, the conversion rate on your article will reflect an audience attracted to your particular topic. So, stick to one point to make sure the reader knows what to expect in the content.


Start with the Facts

Numbers, statistics, and facts always intrigue readers. It turns an idea into something newsworthy and relevant. For example, Kissmetrics reviewed a Bing advertisement that leads with a disturbing statistic about Google tracking Safari users. The ad says, “Google hit with record $22.5 million penalty for improperly tracking Safari users.”

The number in the middle of that sentence draws your eye because it appears newsworthy. When readers see facts or numbers, they become curious about the story associated with those numbers. Facts compel people to click, which creates more views for your website. If you want to grab your reader’s attention, start with just the facts.


Get Personal

Often, writers craft blogs and articles in the second person to create a closeness to the reader. In the same way, you can use this tactic to drive traffic. Pick friendly, personal phrases to draw in your audience. Do not be afraid to use the words “you” and “yours.” This method speaks directly to your reader and creates a connection with them from the first phrase.

When a writer uses the word “you,” the reader feels both validated and acknowledged. When you write using personal words, your reader will build a connection with you as the writer.


Ask Strong Questions

Question marks work if the questions make people think. For example, Business Insider collected compelling headlines including, “O’Malley, O’Mara…O’Bama?” This makes the reader curious about the content to follow. Similarly, writers can use questions to tease their audience or prompt new thoughts. Then, they will read the following content to find out more.

Additionally, questions align with long-tailed keywords for SEO. Often, people type in questions during an online search because they seek an answer. SEO specialists refer to this as “solution selling” and it is quickly becoming one of the top tactics for attracting website visitors. If your content contains their question, they are more likely to click on your link and convert.


Cleverness Must be Clear

Often, attempts to create clever statements create confusion. Audiences appreciate wordplay; however, the concept needs to be relevant and easy to understand. If the statement is abstract, readers may feel alienated and dismiss the article altogether. As an example, NPR reviewed a statement that is both witty and clear. It says “For Sale: One Used Internet Company Called Yahoo.” The phrase is somewhat snarky, yet cute. Although the sentence is unexpected, any reader can understand it quickly. This signals that the following article will be both readable and humorous.


Use Winning Formulas

With the advent of big data, writers can track the success of headlines. Online readers favor specific types of content, usually preceded by the same formulaic phrases. For example, lists and “how to” articles dominate on click-throughs and pageviews. As readers seek solutions to problems, this content format provides answers. Additionally, popular writers have identified several winning formulas that usually raise your conversion rate.

– Who Else Wants…

– The Secret Of…

– A Method for…

– Little Known Ways to…

– Get rid of (problem) once and for all

– A Quick Way to solve (problem)

– What you need to know about…

Statistically, readers favor these formats. So, if you want to write a compelling teaser, craft it around one of the options above. Then, your readers will click on your content to learn more.


In Conclusion

The headline writing tips above will both raise your visibility and boost your conversion rate. Over time, this will help your website’s SEO, giving you a higher SERP position. If you apply these tips to your articles, your efforts will boost your attraction and generate more visits to your website.