You’ve slaved over a killer blog post.
You hit publish and … nothing.
You send out a few tweets and a Facebook post. Still nothing.
Don’t get discouraged. It doesn’t mean your content’s no good.
But it could be that you need a better headline. A headline that will make people click. And read. And share.
Here are 21 powerful ways to write more enticing blog post titles.
1] Start with Hubspot’s topic generator
Before you even start writing a post, put three keywords into HubSpot’s free topic generator and see what inspires you. The tool uses a few generic headline templates so while it might point you in the right direction, you’ll need to keep refining the ideas.
2] Play around with Portent’s topic generator too
Try Portent’s excellent topic generator as well. The headlines here get a little wackier –- that’s good. See what juicy words crop up and think about how you might use them.
3] Download Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks report
Jon Morrow of Copyblogger fame offers a free report called 52 Headline Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral. Download it. Read it. You’ll find excellent tips for constructing enticing headlines, broken down into 6 categories such as fear-based headlines and headlines that promise simplicity.
4] Ask a question
Want to know a surefire way to pique your reader’s interest? Ask an intriguing question in the headline. A recent Norwegian study revealed that question headlines can more than double your click-through rates.
5] Include one of these words to get more clicks
Here are the top 10 words that get people to click, as analyzed by Neil Patel at Quicksprout.
- How to
- [List-related numbers]
- Blog post
6] Include one of these words to get more shares
Here are the top 10 words that get people to share, according to a study of 100 top blogs and their posts.
- Hacks (hacking, hackers, etc)
- Huge / Big
7] Know the 5 most persuasive words in the English language
Here they are:
- [person’s name]
Check out Copyblogger for details on why these words work and how to apply them effectively. Heed the warning:
I can’t stress enough — just as in the application of writing headlines that work — you must understand why these words are persuasive, and you must use them in the contexts that make sense for your audience and your business. If you just start slapping them on every piece of content you create for no apparent reason, you’ll quickly see just how unpersuasive they can be.
8] Tell the story in the headline
Tell the whole story in the headline, says Tom Whitwell, assistant editor at The Times. Descriptive headlines work better than clever ones, especially for business blog posts. Readers want to know exactly what they’ll get when they click through.
9] Use a number
There’s a reason you see list posts all over the Internet –- readers love number headlines. See the second list item in Tip #5 above. The bigger the number and the more specific the number, the better.
10] Check that you’ve covered off the Four U’s
Copywriting guru Michael Masterson teaches that your headlines (and subheads and bullet points and content) should hit on four key attributes:
- Be useful to the reader.
- Create a feeling of urgency.
- Show that the main benefit is unique.
- Be ultra-specific.
11] Remember to include keywords
Your headlines should always be written for your readers, but don’t overlook search engines entirely. Make sure you include a keyword in your blog post title. The closer it is to the start of the title, the better it is for search engine ranking.
12] Be negative
Did your mama always tell you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? It’s good life advice but not the best for writing clickable headlines. Include these negative words in a headline to draw more people in:
13] Speak directly to the reader
The folks at Buffer recently analyzed 3,016 blog posts from 24 top blogs. They discovered that you was the 5th most popular word and your was the 17th most popular. No surprise there. Good content marketing is always focused on the reader.
14] Talk like a human being
Conversational writing is great writing. No one wants to interact with a robot or a faceless corporation. And robots don’t inspire emotion, which is so important to grabbing readers and encouraging shares. Be your human self. It works.
15] Run your title through the Headline Analyzer
Want to see just how much emotional appeal your headline has? The Headline Analyzer from the Advanced Marketing Institute can tell you.
16] Write 25 headlines for every post
Upworthy headlines are some of the clickiest you’ll ever read. What’s their secret to writing titles so captivating they bring in more than 8 million visitors a month? Upworthy writers craft more than 25 headlines for every single post. Yup, 25. For every single post.
17] Apply the 50/50 rule
Many of the very best headline writers in history believe you should spend half your time on the headline and half on the post. Does that surprise you? A headline can make or break a post, especially on the Internet where everyone’s a fast click away from leaving your content for something else. Investing time to hone your title will pay off.
18] Limit your headlines to 70 characters
In its display results, Google cuts off headlines at 70 characters so it’s best to stay within that limit. In 2013, Gawker boss Nick Denton famously announced that all his site’s headlines from there forward would stick to 70 characters. It seems to have worked pretty well for Gawker. It can work well for you too.
19] Know when to break the rules
Of course, there’s always a time and a place for breaking the rules. In their recent analysis of 2,616 popular blog posts, Ripenn noted that some of the most viral headlines are 100 characters or more. (Still, if you’re going to break the rules, do so sparingly.)
20] Test your headlines on Twitter
Want a clever way to test your headlines without telling people that’s what you’re doing? Tweet a statement and see what kind of reaction you get.
Here’s how entrepreneur Andrew Chen does it:
Using retweets to assess content virality
Recently I’ve been running an experiment:
- Tweet an insight, idea, or quote
- See how many people retweet it
- If it catches, then write a blog post elaborating on the topic
growth hacker is the new VP marketing.
— Andrew Chen (@andrewchen) April 27, 2012
Based on the number of retweets Andrew got on this tweet, he decided to write a full post.
21] Test your headlines with the TitleTester
The free TitleTester tool is a quick and easy way to poll your audience on which title they find most compelling.
For the headline on this post, I used tips #1, 2, 5, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18. Plus I used #4 and 6 in the meta description. What do you think about how it turned out?
Which of these tips will you try on your next blog post title?