Write headlines effectively, and you have won half of your battle as an online marketer.
According to research, people will share your posts without reading them, especially if your headline is great.
That kind of headline-writing-superpower can increase the number of clicks on your blog posts. In addition, it could take your content to many places around the internet, a big win for your SEO writing strategy.
Let’s see how other journalists, bloggers, and professional writers write headlines and let’s learn from them.
Write Headlines by Reading Great Examples
Before we dive in, you should know that samples here are a personal choice.
I try to recall some of the titles many years after reading them. As a blogger, this idea is worth pursuing. You want people to remember the headlines even if they read them a decade ago.
Write headlines like you are giving them a memorable gift. Then they’ll read your content, and the title will stay with them forever.
Check these 10 examples:
#1. Why James Chartrand Wears Women Underpants
Excuse me? What’s that?
That’s how I feel after reading this blog post on the Copybogger.
Why would a man wear women’s underwear? Not just a random person, James Chartrand, a name I have heard before in the marketing niche.
Headline intention: create curiosity.
#2. They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano But When I Started to Play
You think this is the story of some story, but it’s not. It is an ad for a music lesson, and John Caples did a good job grabbing readers’ attention. You won’t put the ad down until you finish reading.
We like from zero to hero stories, and this headline tells us that without going too far.
They laughed at me when I sat: they thought I was dumb.
But when I started to play: Surprise, you haters.
Headline intention: create drama.
3. To men who want to quit work someday
Tell the readers what they want by being specific.
And that’s one thing about catchy headline examples. They are clear about their target readers.
“Get rich” sounds great. But “men who want to quit work” sounds practical. It connects with a set of readers (men) a little deeper.
Be specific and punchy.
Headline intention: to inspire
4. Big rig carrying fruit crashes on 210 Freeway, creates jam
I won’t lie to you. When I read this headline, my mind captured “fruit creates jam on the freeway.”
Try to guess the kind of jam the headline is talking about. Now you want to read what actually happened or what this is about.
Headline intention: create curiosity.
#5. Beers, tears & disbelief: Spurs destroy Ajax’s ‘destiny’ in Champions League classic
This headline hits different if you are a football fan and watch the match that leads to this. It is another perfect example if you want to learn how to write news headlines.
Ajax has all their hopes high with 2 goals advantage, but it all went away like smoke in a memorable and dramatic second-half football match against Tottenham. They could have gone to the finals in 2019.
Write headlines using powerful words, words that can create the effect you want.
In this example, we have powerful words like Beers, disbelief, destiny, classic.
Headline intention: show some sympathy
#6. Intelligent people tend to be messy, stay awake longer, and swears
Some validation works fine. Who doesn’t like when what you do is considered as being smart.
And if that’s back by research, then boom, it hits different.
This example here shows that people want proof, and if you can work it into your headline, you might get the reader’s attention.
Look at my attempt to create something similar to the headline: 50% of Twitter Users Are Likely to Welcome New Culture They Hear for the First Time.
Someone should add some data to back that up, please.
I just made that up, by the way, but you get the idea. Add research data to your headlines, and you might win.
Headline intention: To validate a common phenomenon.
#7. Here Is The Powerful Letter This Stanford Victim Reads Aloud To Her Attacker
Write headlines with some emotional impacts.
Look at this headline; without reading the headline, you already have a story, which tends towards a surprising outcome.
Right there, you’re guessing. Why would anyone read a letter to their attacker? What is in the letter? What happened after reading the letter?
Read that headline again. It promises to answer all those questions it has created in your mind.
Headline intention: recount a memorable experience
#8. Confession from the Underground World of Kindle eBooks
When writing your headline, choose your words wisely.
You can only use a few, so it doesn’t get too long, and you have a lot to lose if it doesn’t spark interest.
This headline calls our attention to the two particular words: “confession” and “underground.” It promises us something from a place we are not so familiar with, and we are ready for that and even more.
It’s like saying I will show you a secret that isn’t common everywhere.
Headline intention: reveal a secret.
#9. 7 Life Lessons from a Guy Who Can’t Move Anything but His face
This headline is quite depressing to read.
That’s the point of writing headlines that show the emotion you want the readers to feel. So you put their minds in a place where they can’t help but listen to what you have to say.
Jon Morrow wrote it on Unstoppable, and I felt sad when I read the piece.
Look at the number of shares the post has over the years in the image below, and it can still go up.
Head intention: to inspire/uplift
#10. How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World
Look at the promises in those words. Write headlines with promises like these:
- Quit your job
- Move to paradise
- Get paid to change the world
I don’t know about you, but this headline sounds pretty like what I want right now and forever and ever.
You should do that, but ensure you are careful with what you promise so that the article doesn’t fail on the promise.
This headline is another example from Jon Morrow. I suggest you read his articles and teachings if you want to learn how to write catchy headlines.
Headline intention: to promise good tidings
Principle of Headlines Writing from the Examples
From observing the headlines and paying attention to the intent of the articles, I was able to come up with some logic you can use to write powerful headlines.
Note: These are my observations. Data don’t back them unless I say otherwise, but you can apply them to improve the click-through rate in online marketing.
- Be specific
- Choose your words wisely. Find the right words even if that means checking your thesaurus for the right one.
- Write and rewrite the headlines many times
- You can use headline analyzers. If you are usng Rank Math or Yoast, both plugins have inbuilt headlines analyzer
- Understand the purpose of your headline before you write it. If you don’t know yet, don’t write headlines yet. Determine what you want to achieve
- Write many samples. Leave the project and come back to write another one.
- Finally, I suggest you take some time to read copywriting tips or great books about writing for sales.
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