how to write headlines

How To Write Headlines that Earn More Clicks & Reads (Video)

Headlines are a critical step to the overall success of the content you publish, especially blogs.

Here’s something else, though.

The experience of the reader after the headline — what’s in the content itself — is also every bit as important.

Similar to a tasty cake with even better icing, or a great store with a clear, accurate sign.

If a store is awesome, and has tons of of fantastic products inside, but the sign is nonexistent, or, worse — confusing or off-putting, how is the owner going to attract anyone inside?

A headline is like that.

If you’re crafting a headline to get people to read your blog, article, or email, it needs to be clear, well-written, and engaging to earn your audience’s interest and attention.

I’ve got some nitty-gritty tips for you on how to write headlines for your content, hot and fresh for you in today’s video. Let’s get into it!

Learn 3 practical tips for writing #headlines that work from @JuliaEMcCoy on @YouTube 💡 Click To Tweet

how to write headlines

How To Write Headlines that Earn More Clicks & Reads (Video)

Okay, so here are my top three tips for you on writing great headlines.

Ready? The first one is four tips in one, so buckle in!

Headline Writing Tip #1: Draft your headline in three stages.

Let’s look at one of the blogs I’ve written:

How to Promote a New Blog Post: 15+ Trusty Techniques to Try

After 8 years of content creation, and writing thousands of blogs, I’ve learned that multiple process and draft stages are everything to staying ahead of content, producing great quality, and never risking burnout. (I’m 3 or 4 weeks ahead now on more than 20 individual long-form content pieces per month.)

After 8 years of content creation, and writing thousands of blogs, I’ve learned that multiple process and draft stages are everything to staying ahead of content. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

When it comes to stages in content creation, this is the secret to success. And this includes stages for your headlines!

Here’s the three stages I use.

Headline Writing Stage 1: Draft a headline that reflects the idea or keyword you’re writing about. My draft for the blog example would look like: How to promote a new blog post: # techniques (because that’s the keyword and the idea). It should not be perfect at this point. Don’t worry about that yet!

Headline Writing Stage 2: After you write the blog, come back to the headline. How many steps or techniques do you have? You’ll know after writing the article. This is super important: Let the content guide your headline. This will mean accuracy to the topic for the reader, if you match the headline to what you’ve written, after you write it. You want to refine and craft a headline you like.

Headline Writing Stage 3: Run the headline through a scoring tool. I like the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. It’s a fantastic tool that gives you a rating for how much emotion your headline will impact, and what emotions you’ll bring up in your reader. Intellectual, Empathetic, Spiritual are the three emotions the AMI tool scores for. 40-80 is a high score. Another good tool is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which rates your headline from 1-100, dependent on word choices used in the headline, length, etc.

Now that you know the stages of how to write a good headline, which I’d say is the most important part of this video, let’s talk about a few other headline rules of thumb.

Headline Writing Tip #2. Never, ever, ever, clickbait.

Don’t sacrifice accuracy for sensation.

The best wait to avoid this is with accuracy from headline to topic.

Never disguise your topic or be unclear about it. Be upfront and 100% accurate. Accuracy of your headline to the content also impacts Google rankings. Google looks for headlines that sum up the topic of the content. The topic of your content is what ranks well in Google, if the whole piece is topically accurate. This is because of how semantic search algorithm works. We can get all nerdy here — that’s just a summary. For more, I have a guide on semantic and topical search optimization.

Headline Writing Tip #3. Your starter words matter.

BuzzSumo did a study of over 50,000 articles in B2B content. They found that these starter words performed better than other headline starter phrases:

  • “The Future of”
  • “How to use”
  • “Need to” (without “Know”)
  • “How to Create”
  • “Here’s How”
  • “You Need to Know”

Brainstorm topic ideas with these phrases in mind. For example, “what does my audience need to know?” or “what is the future of my industry and how does it affect my audience?”

You can even go back and optimize content that’s not performing well on your blog and add in these header phrases. I go back and optimize my old icky headlines all the time and see more results from doing so!

Go Forth and Write Headlines that Work

Hope these tips helped you.

Here’s to writing catchy headlines that work and earn our readers’ attention — and don’t add to the noise and clickbait crap out there!

I’d LOVE to have you subscribe and come back for more videos. Click the banner below and let’s stay in touch! 

captivating headlines

Sprinkles and Icing Make the Cake: 4 Ways to Create Captivating Headlines

When browsing through your Facebook and Twitter feed, you are inundated with headline after headline. Some are trying too hard and some not hard enough, but when you come across something called “13 Celebrities with Voldemort’s Nose” you just know you are going to click on that. Who wouldn’t want to see James Bond morphed with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? How do you go about creating captivating headlines like Voldemort’s nose?

Whether funny or serious, this blog explores a few short things to consider when creating great headlines and captivating audiences before they even read your article.

So, let’s look at a few things you should consider when writing your blog:

1. Education is the New Sexy

Do you want a headline that will grab the reader’s attention? Then educate them before they even get to your article, writes. If your headline does not provide a small lesson, a lot of people will pass you by. People like to be educated and they like to show others how educated they are. This means, they will read and share an article that has a smart headline that gives enough information to entice them, but not too much information to spoil the article. The reader will then expect to see a solid article to back up the creative headline.

2. Get Into a New Groove

Don’t be afraid to try something new with your headlines. Readers are overwhelmed by all the headlines out there that talk about something being the “best ever” or headlines that are overly long and complicated. Incorporate words or phrases that many people still won’t expect to see in the headline, this will grab the reader’s attention while also informing them that they are about to learn a great deal about your chosen topic.

3. Pay Attention to the Internet’s Reactions

The Internet is great for gauging what kind of headlines will grab people’s attention and which will throw them off. For example, while many of Upworthy’s headlines get lots of clicks and shares, several on the Internet are getting annoyed with Upworthy style headlines. People have even created a list of what a classic book’s title would be if Upworthy had written the title. You can still do similar headlines, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t have an overly long headline. Just place yourself in the position of your targeted audience and think about whether or not your headline would grip them, or if it would even grip you. If it wouldn’t grip you and entice you to read it, then don’t use that headline!

If you are stuck on trying to find a great headline, don’t despair. Many writers will go through headline after headline before they decide on the best one. (We even went through a few for this article!) You can also go to a few successful websites to see how they fashion their headlines.

A few are:

4. Never Forget

After you have crafted an excellent headline, don’t forget to craft amazing content. You want your content to strongly backup and support your headlines. Once you have created amazing captivating headlines and content, you will see your readership growing and will watch as your content begins to go viral. Remember, headlines are the glorious sprinkles and buttercream icing that top a yummy cupcake!



copywriting tip

Copywriting Services’ Number One Tip

Are you a small business owner and have made up your mind that you are going to try your hands on a piece of copywriting for a marketing article? Well, that is a bold move, but by all means, not an impossible task. If you have the time, patience, and a creative brain, then this maybe a good idea.

Having the Right Copywriting Services For Your Business is Everything

I will give you one tip – not 5 or 10 just one. Confused? Well trust me on this one, because this is the most important tip that can get customers or any random viewer interested in your article.

Perfect Headline for the Article

There it is. Now you must be thinking “this guy must be crazy”. Well, not necessarily, as it has been found that statistically, 8 out of 10 people on average read the headline, but only 2 out of 10 will actually read the rest of the article. Still think I’m overreaching with this? Thought not…

It is pretty sensible if you consider it, because many people do not have the time to even skim through the content and some may just be killing time by surfing the internet. A good copywriting headline that catches a person’s attention will greatly improve your chances of getting readers to continue to the important part – the body.

Of course, a good headline alone will not guarantee success. Once the reader gets to the body, a good introduction and well thought-out content should follow – with each sentence enticing the reader to keep on reading, eventually bringing them to the all-important ‘call to action’ at the end of the article. Convinced enough to move on to the next bit of the all-important tip?

Working on the Headline

Now that we have said that the headline is immensely important, the next question is how do we write it? A majority of copywriters would say to start with the headline before moving to the content, for reasons like avoiding going off-topic or to guide you in what your body should consist of; but I think that may not be the case for a good marketing piece, as each person has his/ her own style of writing.

For example, when you start writing the article you may have all the ideas in the world about the topic and feel confident that you have everything organized, ready to be put together, so that it will be an awesome piece viewers will want to read. More often than not, you will – like most copywriters – come across a common issue called writer’s block, which basically means getting stuck somewhere down the article and not knowing how to continue from there on – due to no information to write about or that the article has gone on a wrong course.

When this happens, read from the top and you might have to delete some of the paragraphs/ sentences you have written that don’t really fit in with the rest of the article. That is, you must be ready to change the article and give it a new shape as you proceed. Thus, it is important that you leave the headline for last in copywriting because your marketing piece may not go in the direction that you were expecting it to when you initially started working on it. If you had already thought up of a great headline before moving to the body, but found out that it does not really match up with the body, your time and energy would have been wasted on the headline. However, do not mistake ‘being open to change the same thing’ as ‘rambling on’ in your article at free will. On the contrary, the article should be tightly written with clear objectives in mind, accessible and easy-to-read for readers to go on reading it.

For more tips and tools in writing perfect articles, visit Copyblogger which has some useful tips for copywriters.

How to Write the Headline

Now that you have written a good piece of marketing, it’s time to look into a catchy heading that will make your efforts worthwhile and attract readers to actually read what you have written.

  1. Start by reading through your article and highlight the key messages that you want to get through to the readers and/ or what the readers will be most interested about. This could be, for example, some problems that people face and how these can be avoided or rectified if they use your product/ service. Now that you have a list of key areas in your article, analyze and prioritize them in order of importance and pick the most important of the lot.
  2. Next is to use the most important aspects of your article that you have picked and combine them in a manner that doesn’t tell the whole story, but gives a good hint as to what the article is and how the problem can be solved.
  3. Now, you may have some content and long sentences that make little or no sense, so the next step is trimming it down while playing around with where each word fits, adding a rhyme to it possibly, and hear how it sounds when you read it.

Guidelines in Copywriting the Headline

  • Ask a question
  • Give a guarantee
  • Give a ‘how-to’
  • Provide well-known phrases or sayings
  • Provide percentages and/or hard figures
  • Shock, intrigue, or amuse
  • Command or instruct

Just fiddle with it till you are 100% happy and if not, discard it and start over. I understand this is hard work, but getting it right will make a huge difference.

Too Much Work?

After reading this, you may think this is too much work for you, which is understandable because it is not easy to pull off a great marketing piece. That is why we recommend getting copywriting services from professionals in the field such as us; Express Writers, who has the knowledge and experience to handle any copywriting task. Remember that you will be in control as to what needs to be in the article but of course, do not have to waste your valuable time and energy in getting those ideas on to a marketing piece.

Once you have the perfect marketing tool on the web, use marketing analytic software such as MOZ to see how effective the marketing piece is, whether you wrote it yourself or got a professional to do it, this is very important feedback.

Could The Success of Your Web Content Writing Rely on Your Headline? How to Create the Perfect One

It’s undoubtedly true.

Today, the single most important aspect of your web content is your headline.

As people cruise through online content at warp-speed, it’s the content with outstanding headlines that are more likely to get recognized.

Subsequently, it’s the content creators who know how to develop quality headlines that are likely to reap the highest number of likes, shares, and engagement.

While readers want compelling web content writing, the average visitors’ attention span is short, and people are highly unlikely to click on a headline that doesn’t grab their attention, even if the content behind it is high-quality.

With that in mind, learning to craft exciting, unique, informative headlines is by far one of the most critical things a content creator can do for their business. Content relies on headlines, and this guide is designed to help you learn to create outstanding ones.

web writing with headlines

Why Do Headlines in Web Content Writing Matter?

While it’s easy to dismiss the importance of headlines, they’re more critical to content than most people understand.

While 80% of people read a headline, only 20% will go on to read the body content.

Because of this, it’s incredibly important for the headline to be attention-grabbing and unique. This is especially true when you take into account the fact that the average human attention span is around eight seconds, one full second shorter than that of a goldfish.

With these two things in mind, it’s clear that bold, unique, attention-grabbing headlines are more important today than they’ve ever been before. A quality headline can increase click-throughs and boost engagement, while a dull or dry headline can easily harm your content, encouraging readers to move on to a better, brighter topic instead of staying and engaging with yours.

Five Examples of Good (& Bad) Headlines in Web Content

To create compelling headlines, it helps to have an example of what a compelling headline looks like. Here are a few we’ve rounded up:

The Good: 5 Awesome, Stellar Web Headlines

Here are five examples of functional, exciting headlines that get the job done.

“How to “Waste Money” to Improve the Quality of Your Life”

This headline, which features on the blog of Tim Ferriss, does all of the things you expect a great headline to do: it’s unique, attention-grabbing, and different.

While wasting money is often seen as a bad thing, this headline turns that on its, well, head, and makes the reader think twice by claiming it can actually improve the quality of your life.

Are you going to click? I would. 😛

“7 Life-Changing Beauty Products You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner”

Are these beauty products good? Are they great? No. They’re life-changing! This BuzzFeed headline makes a big promise and offers value and actionability to the reader, all in one sleek package. Maybe that’s why it has more than 46,000 views.

“15 Genius Ways Your Phone Can Help You Sleep Better”

This is another BuzzFeed headline that gets the job done. The word “genius” promises readers that these aren’t run-of-the-mill tips, and the article as a whole addresses a common problem: poor sleep.

“The Amazing Reason that Medals at the Paralympics Make a Sound When you Shake Them”

This is an Upworthy article that does a few things right. In addition to giving readers some new information that grabs their attention (did you know that Paralympics medals made a sound?) this article also promises a bit of information that the reader is unlikely to get anywhere else.

“How to Have a Healthier and More Productive Home Office”

This IncomeDiary piece promises actionable solutions, which makes people want to read. It also promises benefits that virtually everyone wants: better health and increased productivity.

The Bad: 5 Icky, No-Good Headlines

While the good headlines are good, the bad ones are really, really bad. Here are five examples of headlines that missed the mark:

“How to Write (With Pictures)”

The fact that it has pictures doesn’t make this WikiHow article any more compelling. In addition to the fact that its headline is way too vague, it also doesn’t offer the reader any real value, which makes them want to keep looking for something more distinct and unique.

“Has Obama Been a Good President?”

Whether he has or not, this Odyssey article headline doesn’t do much to inspire the reader. With so many interesting headlines out there, this one falls short of the mark.

“5 Strategic Ways to Beat the Competition”

Wait – to beat what competition? Where? How? This NaijaPreneur headline is way too confusing, and way, way too vague.

“How to Win Summer”

Come on FoodNetworkHow to Win Summer? Details, please! This article just doesn’t provide enough specificity to make readers want to click.

“22 Ways to be Beautiful”

While being beautiful is great (presumably), this Self article headline lacks specificity and doesn’t make up for it at any point throughout. While I might click if it added “Without Makeup” or “In the Morning,” I’m not interested in the generalities.

The ROI of a Great Headline: It Impacts All Your Web Writing

While a great headline takes some time to write (some experts claim you should spend 90% of your writing time on the headline alone), they’re well worth the effort.

Here’s why: when a headline is catchy and expertly-crafted, it draws people both in the immediate short-term and in the much longer term for months and years after its initial publish date. In this way, good headlines are the gifts that keep on giving

5 Proven Web Content Headline Creation Tips

Creating great headlines for even better web content writing results can be tough.

These five tips can help:

1. Be as concise as possible in your headlines

In addition to the fact that headlines longer than about 160 characters get cut off in Google’s SERPs, long headlines lose your reader’s attention at a quick rate. With this in mind, keep your headlines short and concise, and pack them with the relevant information your reader needs to click.

2. Be informative in your headlines

Remember those bad headlines we pointed out? Many of them went wrong by simply not being informative enough.

While it’s not necessarily that they were about boring topics, they simply didn’t provide the information a reader needed to be enticed to click, and thus they fell short.

With this in mind, be informative in your headlines. Instead of writing a headline like “22 Ways to be Beautiful,” shoot to include the what, where, and when: “22 Ways to Look Gorgeous (Even After Your Sweatiest Workout)”.

In addition to the fact that this headline targets an audience (people who don’t exercise likely won’t click), it also provides some truly actionable info the audience feels they can rely on.

3. Use a headline tool to gauge your success

Wondering if your headline will cut it or not? One of the best ways to tell is to use a headline tool like Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer, or CoSchedule’s headline analyzer.

Each tool is designed to help you understand the emotional impact and balance of your headline (between common and uncommon, emotive and powerful words, and more), so you can create better ones every single time.

For an example of how these tools work, check out what happened when we plugged “22 Ways to be Beautiful” into the CoSchedule analyzer:

22 Ways to be Beautiful

4. Add adjectives to your headlines

When used correctly, powerful adjectives can overhaul your headlines. Take “15 Genius Ways Your Phone Can Help You Sleep Better,” for example. Would “15 Ways Your Phone can Help You Sleep Better” have been more compelling? The answer is no, and the reason is simple. “Genius” quantifies the content as high-quality and helps grab readers.

5. Use call-to-action language in your headlines

While many people believe that a call to action and a headline are two separate things, the fact of the matter is that adding call-to-action language to your web content headlines can go a long way toward making them more unique and compelling.

Consider a headline like “Try These 10 Simple Cooking Hacks in Your Kitchen.” When compared to something like “10 Simple Cooking Hacks for Your Kitchen,” it’s easy to see how the first is more compelling.

Content Writing That Transforms Websites

While the headline is a commonly overlooked piece of your content, it’s one of the most critical components of high-ROI material, and web content that transforms–your readers and your revenue.

In addition to drawing in readers and helping drive conversions, a great headline can also help inform and educate your readers, which goes a long way toward turning them into life-long converts for your content.

So regardless of whether you’re writing “how-tos” or “how-comes”, a great headline is the one thing that truly has the potential to transform your content from start to finish. Focus on fantastic headlines in creating your web content, and when it’s time to find a content writer for your website, look for that key skill set to succeed.

Need content writing services for your website? Contact Express Writers today and hire some of the best copywriters in the industry for your web content!

fab formula in copywriting

How to Use the FAB Formula in Copywriting to Create Effective Headlines

By now you know that your headlines are paramount to the success of your copy.

Headlines are what readers notice first and foremost when they scan a page. Headlines are what make them stop and look closer. Headlines are what make people read one sentence, then the next and the next.

On the other hand, a boring headline will make them lose interest. They’ll look the other way without bothering to read more. Even worse – they’ll click the little “x” at the top right corner of their screen.

So, how do you keep them interested? How do you write headlines that grab their attention every single time?

How do you make your readers stop, look, and “listen?”

Turns out, there’s a formula to help you do just that.

fab formula in copywriting

FAB: The Copywriting Formula You Need to Grab Your Readers in 120 Characters

Here’s a universal truth: people don’t relate to plain-stated facts. They relate to stories.

Stories are what give those facts a human heart. Stories make facts relatable.

If you can tell a story, you can write a headline. However, there’s a catch: you must be able to tell your tale in a very short amount of space – for Google search results, that’s 120 characters or less.


How the FAB Formula in Copywriting Helps

Using a writing formula will give you a blueprint to follow for telling a quick, effective story. The quality of the story in your headline will make readers stop, sit up, and pay attention.

According to Copyhacker, a formula will help you organize the message you’re trying to tell into a form that’s as persuasive as possible.

Think of the formula as the skeleton of your story structure. To make it come alive, you fill in the “who,” “what,” and “why.” This saves a lot of time and brainpower – half of the work is done for you, and all you need to do is come up with strong verbs and nouns to plug into the equation.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Learn how the FAB Formula can help you create persuasive headlines in your #copywriting! (via @ExpWriters)” quote=”Learn how the FAB Formula can help you create persuasive headlines in your #copywriting! (via @ExpWriters)”]

The FAB Formula, Broken Down Letter-by-Letter

So, what is FAB? It goes like this:

  • F = Features. What can your product or service do? What does it offer?
  • A = Advantages. Why is it helpful? What problem(s) does it solve?
  • B = Benefits. Why is this relevant to the reader? What does it mean for them?

In other words, you lead with the main feature of your product/service, which naturally takes you into why it’s better than the rest. Then you explain how this is great for the customer.

Buffer explains that this works precisely because you’re focusing on the benefits as the main point of your mini story. The entire sentence leads the reader to this final whammy, arguably the thing they care about most.

What, why, and how. Features, advantages, and benefits. Done and done.

Examples of the FAB Formula in Copywriting in Action

Everywhere you turn, businesses and blogs are utilizing the FAB way to create headlines. Buffer provides this great example of FAB in action in one simple Tweet:


  • Feature: Social media management
  • Advantage: Get help scheduling updates
  • Benefit: Get more clicks

Note key terms like “complete,” “help,” and “get.” This line is to-the-point, but that factor works in its favor.

We can easily come up with other examples from a variety of different companies effectively using FAB.

1. Apple Watch


Apple utilizes FAB to let customers know how the new watchOS has improved.

“A smarter coach and workout partner. Better in tune with your taste in music. And an even more proactive all-day assistant. With watchOS 4, Apple Watch is dialed in to you like never before.”

  • Features: It’s a coach, workout partner, keeps up with your music tastes, and is an all-day assistant.
  • Advantages: It’s smarter, better, and more proactive.
  • Benefits: It’s dialed into you like never before.

While this example mixes up the formula a little bit (for instance, the features and advantages are blended together), it still has the same strength of a more traditional FAB structure.

2. Farmers Insurance


Farmers Insurance uses FAB here to tout their mobile app.

“Farmers Mobile App: An easier, smarter way to access your insurance anytime, anywhere.”

  • Features: Access your insurance
  • Advantages: It’s easier and smarter
  • Benefits: Get access anytime, anywhere

3. HubSpot


Here, HubSpot highlights their software using the FAB formula.

“With HubSpot’s marketing, sales, and CRM software, you can grow like a company twice your size while connecting like a real human being.”

  • Features: Marketing, sales, and CRM software that help manage your “pipeline”
  • Advantages: Grow like a company twice your size
  • Benefits: Connect like a real human being

From all these examples, it’s clear that an effective formula can put the emphasis of your headline right where you need it. It grabs the reader’s attention, but most importantly, it holds it.

The FAB formula in copywriting does this well because it puts the emphasis on the benefits to the reader as opposed to the features. The features are mentioned, but they are only there to help build the mini-story to its peak.

When readers reach that peak, they want to know more. This is exactly what a headline should do.

Pay Attention to Your Headline Writing to Hook Readers

According to QuickSprout, eight out of 10 people read headlines, but only two of those same 10 people will stick around to read the rest of your post.

That’s only 20% of all your readers – not terribly good odds.

This is why you need to increase your chances that people will stop, look, stay, and keep reading. When you craft well-written, well-formulated headlines, you’re heading off on the right foot.

The formula, as we said before, is half the work. You have to take the ball and run with it the rest of the way. Along with a proven strategy for structure, like the FAB formula in copywriting, you also need some key elements that help create a powerful title.

This infographic sums it up nicely:


In short, don’t forget to use strong verbs, adverbs, and adjectives. Use words that spur the reader to action, or make them feel emotion.

The combination of a FAB formula in copywriting with good writing strategies will take your headlines to the top. It’s the first step to hooking your readers, and it’s how good content becomes great content.

Struggling with crafting headlines and creating content with impact? Express Writers can help – take a look at our Content Shop to get started.

fly cta express writers

web writing

7 Tips to Write Powerful Headlines That Are Content Superheroes

Good headlines are tough to write. But, when you get them right, they pack a punch and make your content unstoppable.

That said, the best headlines are not always showy.

It’s not about the shock factor. It’s not about making your readers’ heads explode.

It’s mostly about being useful.

That’s right – usefulness matters more than writing a pretty, punchy, or compelling sentence. When you look at headline writing from this angle, the task gets a whole lot easier.

So, what can you do to make your headlines uber-useful? How can you write them so they speak to the heart of your readers (and thus become as powerful as Wonder Woman)?

Follow me!

7 Smart Tips to Write Powerful Headlines (& Add ‘Oomph’ to Your Content)

🔥 With thousands of content out there, having an irresistible headline can make your post stand out. How do you do this? Read @JuliaEMcCoy's 7 tips on writing powerful headlines. 🔥 Click To Tweet

1. Make Your Headlines as Important as the Body Copy

Rule number one: Don’t just dash off your headline as an afterthought after you write your main content. Don’t scribble something down and call it a day.

Instead, give your headline the time and craft it needs to soar.

  • Write variations of your headline using different words and phrasing.
  • Play with various sentence lengths.
  • Add numbers, turn it into a question, or try deleting it and starting from scratch.

If you want the headline to be good, you have to give yourself time to hone it, edit it, and polish it until it shines. Great example: Jeff Goins, a successful online writer, spends as long as 30-60 minutes deliberating on his headlines – and, more often than not, he still goes back and changes them later.

'Rule number one: Don’t just dash off your headline as an afterthought after you write your main content. Don’t scribble something down and call it a day.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on writing powerful headlines. Click To Tweet

2. Write Headlines with Their Purpose in Mind (for Users and for Google)

While crafting your headline, think about the job it does in your content. This covers two areas:

  1. The purpose headlines serve for your readers:
  • It tells readers what to expect and what your post is about.
  • It (hopefully) piques their interest.
  • It aligns with their information needs.
  1. The purpose headlines serve for content, SEO, and Google:
  • It summarizes the topic of the post.
  • It uses your focus keyword in a pivotal spot for SEO – the H1.
  • It signals to Google that your content is topically relevant to various search queries.
  • If/when your post ranks, the headline will often determine whether users click or not.

As you can tell, the two main purposes of headlines intermingle. Crafting good headlines for your readers is good for SEO and Google.

In Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google explains that the page title/headline is part of the main content (MC). Above all, it must be descriptive and helpful.

As you create your headline, keep these roles it plays in the back of your mind. Try to make sure it fulfills them.

'While crafting your headline, think about the job it does in your content. This covers two areas: your readers and SEO.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on writing powerful headlines. 💥 Click To Tweet

3. Always Address the Reader (Entice Them, Play to Their Needs, or Grab Their Attention)

If you’re not talking to your reader in your headline, you’re doing something wrong.

Headlines MUST address the reader to be truly useful for them.

This can mean a few things:

  • Talking to them directly using “you”
  • Asking them a question
  • Telling them something amazing/surprising/useful/interesting
  • Above all, describing the content they’re about to read

Addressing your reader is always more engaging than talking about yourself. Your readers don’t care about how great you are – they want to know what’s in it for them. Give it to them!

For proof, let’s look at BuzzSumo’s oft-cited study of 100 million headlines.

They found that the headline phrase that got the most engagement on Facebook was “will make you”. In fact, it won by a landslide.

Is it any coincidence that this phrase contains the word “you”? I don’t think so.

As BuzzSumo explains, this phrase serves as a link between the content and the potential impact it will have on the reader. When this phrase is present in a headline, the reader KNOWS how they will benefit from consuming the content because you’re telling them directly.

The typical headlines from the study with this phrase all include a direct benefit – how the content will make you feel, what it will make you do, or how it will make your life better.

For best results, follow suit and talk to your readers in your headline.

'Addressing your reader is always more engaging than talking about yourself. Your readers don’t care about how great you are – they want to know what’s in it for them. Give it to them!' - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4. Focus on Benefits for the Reader

We already addressed this briefly in point #3, but it bears emphasizing: When you talk to your readers in the headline, tell them about a major benefit of reading the content.

What will your blog post help them achieve? How will it make them smarter/savvier? What will they learn? Will it help them boost their lives, business, relationships, SEO, marketing, skills, etc.?

The second you add a benefit, your headline becomes more engaging and powerful.

Important tip ⚠️ 'When you talk to your readers in the headline, tell them about a major benefit of reading the content.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on writing powerful headlines. Click To Tweet


5. Use Strong Adjectives and Verbs

A headline full of weak words will not do any heavy lifting for your content. Instead, you need strong adjectives and verbs in your headlines that pack a punch.

Examples of Weak Adjectives and What to Use Instead

  • Any adjective with “very” in front of it (e.g. very pretty, very smart, very good) – Adding “very” is a weak way to pump up a lackluster adjective. Nix this formula and instead use one word that’s stronger.
  • Replace “very pretty” with “gorgeous, or “very smart” with “genius”. (The chart below has more examples.)

Image: ESLBuzz

Examples of Weak Verbs and What to Use Instead

Weak verbs are action words that don’t convey much information. When you hear or read them, you can’t quite picture the action they’re supposed to represent. Here are some examples:

  • How to Have a Lot of Money

Picture someone having a lot of money. It’s unclear and fuzzy, right? Does it mean their wallet is fat with dollar bills? Are their pockets overflowing with change? Do they have stacks of hundreds in the bank? Or does their bank account balance contain a lot of zeroes?

We don’t know – the verb “have” doesn’t tell us.

  • 7 Ways to Be Smarter

It’s hard to imagine a person being smart. That’s way too vague to paint a bright picture in our minds. Does it happen when somebody is winning an expert game of chess? When they’re reading a 1,000-page novel? Or when they have all the right answers to tough questions?

As you can see, neither of the verbs in the above examples are clear enough to give us a concrete picture.

Let’s rewrite them and make them clearer and stronger. To do it, we need to be both specific and descriptive:

  • How to Have a Lot of Money >>> How to Fill Your Pockets with Cash by Next Week
    • This makes you imagine somebody walking around with overflowing pockets full of money. Maybe they’re trailing dollar bills everywhere. That person is definitely rich.
  • 7 Ways to Be Smarter >>> 7 Ways to Transform Yourself into a Genius
    • The verb “transform” makes you think of a complete change from one state of being to another. Coupling it with “yourself” gives the idea that you are in charge of the change from average to genius intellect.

To learn more about the difference between strong and weak verbs, read this tutorial from Sophia Learning.

🚫 'Avoid using 'very' 🚫 Replace them with strong adjectives. Examples: 'very pretty' with 'gorgeous', or 'very smart' with 'genius'.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on writing headlines Click To Tweet

6. Stuck? Use Tried-and-True Headline Formulas

If you’ve tried all the tricks and headline writing still seems agonizing, fear not. That’s what headline formulas are for.

What are headline formulas?

Easy. These are go-to sentence outlines you can use (filling in your own words) that readers love and share, according to studies.

Take that BuzzSumo study we referenced earlier. The research looked at top phrases at the beginning of headlines that got the most engagement. This list is a goldmine for writing new headlines.

Henneke Duistermaat did her own research into headline formulas using BuzzSumo – her findings are useful and she explains exactly how to write each formula.

A few of the top headline formulas she discovered:

  • The burning question
  • The unexpected comparison
  • The how-to case study

These formulas serve as blueprints for creating headlines that work. Definitely use them if you’re stuck.

'If you're out of headline ideas, you can use tried-and-true headline formulas' - @JuliaEMcCoy on writing headlines. Check out these headline formulas in this post! 🔔 Click To Tweet

7. Test Your Headlines to Find What Works (and What Doesn’t)

The final tip for writing powerful headlines: test, test, test.

You won’t know what works for your audience and boosts your content unless you try.

Test different headline types, wording, and lengths. Note what posts get more traction and engagement. Going forward, you’ll develop go-to formulas of your own that are particular for your brand and audience.

If you want to get more concrete data about your headlines, try split testing (also called a/b testing). If you don’t know how, read this post on a/b testing headlines from Wordstream.

'The final tip for writing powerful headlines: test, test, test.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on writing powerful headlines. Click To Tweet

Crafting Powerful Headlines Takes Some Elbow Grease

The best headlines aren’t necessarily showy, but they do accomplish what they set out to do:

  • Attract readers by appealing to their needs/search intent
  • Effectively summarize what the content includes
  • Appeal to Google bots with relevancy + keyword inclusion

That means you don’t need to be a wordsmith to write a great headline. You DO need to work on your headline to make it the best it can be.

Put in the work, create a headline worthy of your awesome content, and you just might reap the rewards.