Despite a massive influx of interactive multimedia, writing still rules the web. That makes powerful headlines essential for the success of any online blog or business. Everyone on the Internet is competing for clicks, so the skilled creation of alluring headlines is necessary to garner a large audience and increase the click-through rate (CTR) of your content.
Luckily, the science of attracting attention through headlines can be condensed into a handful of simple formulas and tricks. When it comes to increasing reader engagement, the following nine steps have been proven to work time and time again. These tips and tricks will help you write more enticing headlines that increase your CTR.
1. Tell Them How To
Readers love to learn, and a headline that promises to help them polish a skill or learn something new is pretty enticing.
- How To ___________
- Your Step-by-Step Guide to ___________
- Learn to ___________ in Only 10 Minutes!
2. Use Powerful Action Words
Use psychology to earn more traffic by employing subliminal messaging. An alluring vocabulary can play into a reader’s desires and entice them into clicking on almost anything.
Readers want information. Create a magnetic headline using action words that promise the reader an experience if they click. Words like secret, new, now and free promise exclusivity, immediacy and value. Using the word “You” in a headline makes each reader feel like you are writing specifically for them.
3. Use Clever Punctuation!
Little symbols can change the interpretation of any headline. Punctuation carries a lot of emotional weight between the lines. For example, an ellipsis (three periods in a row) can be used to instill curiosity and quotation marks can be employed to represent official remarks.
- Ten Ways to ___________ [+Examples]
- Are You Doing ___________ All Wrong?
- "Don't Do It!" Six Experts Voice Their Concerns About ___________
4. Learn the Art of Intrigue
Suspense works wonders. It is an especially helpful instrument within the world of headline formation. Basically, the best titles leave out the juiciest details. Insinuated drama is much more effective than the direct truth. To learn the whole story, readers have no choice but to click the link!
- This Ingenious ___________ Will Leave Your Friends Speechless!
- Are You Making These Common ___________ Mistakes?
- She Said What?! We Have the Juicy Details.
5. Apply Thumbnails
Many of today’s headlines are accompanied by a thumbnail, or miniature picture. This tiny thumbnail can make or break a clicker’s final decision. To maximize traffic, this space should be filled with something that is simultaneously flashy and relevant. A lot of hard work can be erased by a mismatched icon, so make sure the image bolsters the story. Check out this Marketing Land post about Google+ thumbnails alongside headlines.
6. Never Shy Away From Controversy
Offensive or controversial headlines can be a boon for bloggers. By tackling controversy head on, writers can earn a reputation for gonzo journalism. Still, there is a fine line between shocking and distasteful. Finding the middle ground is crucial for long-term clicks.
One of the best ways to write about controversial topics is to shed new light on a previously held belief. You don’t necessarily have to have all the proof to debunk it entirely, just enough to make readers pause or take action.
- 7 Lies the “Experts” Made You Believe
- The Shocking Truth About ___________
7. Pose Questions
Statements are quickly becoming old news in the realm of journalistic headlines. Questions let writers flub the truth without actually lying. The entire piece can be composed as speculation, so the headline can pose any question even if the answer is eventually negative.
- Is Your ___________ Really Safe?
- Can Your Trust Your ___________?
8. Address the Reader Directly
Give the audience a sense of purpose or ownership by commanding them personally. Avoid generalities in favor of a second person voice. Tell the readers, “You need this information!” Explain how beneficial the article will be to their lives or livelihoods and they will feel foolish for not clicking the headline.
9. Tell How Many
Using numbers in your headline tells readers exactly what they will get in exchange for clicking. Numbers can also work to your advantage by conveying brevity and simplicity, as in the first example below, or a desirable mass value such as in the second example.
- 3 Simple Steps to Improving Your ___________
- 27 Awesome Resources for ___________!
No matter what methods, tricks and tips you employ to make your headlines more clickable, just remember to follow through on content. Titles are important, but they are not the sole element of a successful blog or website. Subsequent clicks can only gained by providing trustworthy content on the page.
For more information on writing clickable headlines, check out this Writtent blog post full of resources for writing killer headlines.