You spend hours writing the most fascinating, well-researched blog post…
…only to have it read by your mom and a handful of other people.
Ouch! I know, the truth hurts, but this is the raw truth: Fewer people are reading your blog posts than you may think.
With that being said, a lot more people are dissecting your headlines than you think. In fact, the data has spoken, and on average, only 20% of people surfing the web will click through to your article after reading the headline.
Which means that even the best headlines are losing 80% of their audience.
Luckily, attracting more readers and boosting your blog posts in search results can be done with these 13 blog post headline tricks…
#1 Tell Your Readers Exactly What Your Post is About
Ultimately, why do people read anything? To get something of value out of it.
It may sound simple, but for the most part, people are immediately looking for what they can get out of your content before deciding if they’ll read any further.
That’s why you need to accurately tell your readers in as few words as possible (more on this to come in trick #7 & #8) what they’re going to get out of your post, and your best bet is to do that right up front with a concise, well-worded headline that paints a clear picture.
A study by Conductor demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that clickthrough rates increased significantly the more clarity the headlines had.
#2 Construct Your Headlines With Sentence Case Capitalization
On the more technical side of headline construction, studies have shown that the use of sentence case capitalization in headlines is preferred 300% more than the alternatives.
If you’re not already familiar with the various capitalization styles, here are examples of the three most common types for your reference:
- Sentence Case – “13 Hacks to Boost Your Clicks”
- Lower Case – “13 hacks to boost your clicks”
- Capitals – “13 HACKS TO BOOST YOUR CLICKS”
#3 Start Your Headlines With a Number to Rank Better in Google
We live in the age of lists, and for a good reason: many people want clear, concise posts that are organized by number. Not only does this technique make each point more focused, but it makes it easier for readers to scan through the entire post and digest the points they like.
Starting your headlines with numbers and using the list strategy is not just a psychological factor that will increase clickthrough and decrease your bounce rate times, it’s also something Google’s algorithm will recognize and rank higher when people search for your topic.
Here are a couple examples of how your numbered blog posts could be structured…
“7 Top Strategies to Boost Your Clicks”
#4 Forget About Even Numbers, Use the Outperforming Odd Numbers Instead
Now that you’re using numbers in your headlines, don’t just use any ‘ol number.
The Content Marketing Institute analyzed over 150,000 individual headlines and confirmed that headlines using odd numbers are, on average, clicked 20% more than the even numbered headlines.
Imagine simply restructuring…
“4 Tricks to Beat Writer’s Block”
“5 Tricks to Beat Writer’s Block”
…and getting 20% more readers as a result!
#5 Personalize Your Blog Titles by Using “You” or “Your” to Address Your Reader
Do you remember what people’s favorite word in the whole wide world is? Their name!
Since you probably don’t have all of your reader’s names, you’ll have to settle for personalizing your headlines by using “you” or “your”.
Here are a few samples to give you the gist of how you can implement this technique..
“21 Tips to Eliminate Your Writer’s Block”
“Your 5 Hacks to Beat Writer’s Block”
“11 Writer’s Block Killers Just For You”
#6 Steal “Buzz” Words From the Best to Use in Your Headlines
BuzzFeed has cracked the code to a successful headline, and they’ve spent millions doing it. Taking that enormous investment into account, your best option may simply be to swipe some tactics from the best.
You can regularly monitor BuzzFeed (and other top publishers) for headlines that catch your eye, but thanks to a fellow blogger, we’ve now got the most popular three-word phrases BuzzFeed uses in their headlines.
You’ll notice that a number of them incorporate some of the headline techniques we’ve already mentioned (and that are yet to come).
Try infusing a few of these words and phrases into your headlines and testing how they perform.
#7 Make Your First Six Words Count
You may not always be able to fit your headlines into six words, but when you can, do it. More practically speaking, just make it a rule to say the most important points in your first six words.
The age of fast-reading headline scanners we live in means that you need to make those first six words count, and a round-up of studies by CoSchedule has confirmed this fact.
There you have it: sometimes less truly is more. Just consider these sample headlines to see how much you can say in relatively few words…
“3 Secrets to Getting More Referrals”
“7 Writing Tricks to Boost Readers Fast“
#8 Keep Your Titles Under 57 Characters to Avoid Google’s Cut-offs
While you’re analyzing your headlines first six words, take a look at how many characters they have in total.
Moz studied thousands of titles on the first page of various Google results and found that post titles were frequently cut off between 42 to 68 characters.
That means your headlines should average around 57 characters – right in the middle of the safe zone for avoiding cutoffs.
Some letters take up more space than others (“m” vs. “i”) so you can get super technical on this if you want, but really, just focus on concise titles that fall under that 57 character guideline and you’ll be well ahead of the competition.
#9 Insert Superlatives for Lots of Clicks and Insert Negative Superlatives for Even More
Placing a strong adjective at the beginning of your title adds extra emphasis, and studies have demonstrated that 51% of readers surveyed are more likely to click a headline when there’s a superlative in it.
More isn’t always better, though, so keep it to only one strong superlative per headline.
Even better than using a boring old positive superlative, use a negative one for extra clicks. A study by Outbrain found that using negative superlatives is actually significantly more effective than using positive ones in your headlines.
#10 Use the Only Question Worth Asking in Your Headlines: “How”
BuzzFeed has determined that questions in headlines often fail, so as a general rule, avoid using them in your headlines. Remember, unless you ask the perfect question and know your audience exceedingly well, you might not get the answer you want from your reader.
If you are going to use a question-style headline, BuzzFeed determined that the most effective of the bunch are “how” questions such as…
“How to 2x Clicks on Your Headlines”
#11 Incorporate [Bracketed] Words for More Specificity and More Clicks
Bracketed words serve as a short, clear identifier for specific types of content.
Marketing firm V3b recently found that the clickthrough rate of their headlines increased by 38% when they used bracketed qualifiers.
Here are a couple examples of instances where you could use brackets in your headlines…
“How to Double Your Readers in 30 Days [Tutorial]”
“3 Welcome Emails That Make Conversions Skyrocket [Templates]”
Just make sure that there’s a valid point to bracketing the word and that it will, in fact, mean something to your audience. Otherwise, it may just be confusing.
#12 10x Your Headlines by Using the Most Effective Power Words
Headlines that feature more emotional power words are ten times as likely to be shared, so you can imagine the effect it has on click-through rates as well.
You can take advantage of this fact in your headlines by utilizing some of the most effective power words of all time, and what better place to start than with star copywriter Karl Stepp’s list of 180 power words.
You don’t have to be a copywriter per se to know that stirring up emotion in your readers is a surefire way to increase your reach, and some of the most tried-and-true power words like “free,” “sale,” “new,” and “special,” still do the trick nicely when you’re trying to capture a reader’s attention.
#13 Be Persuasive in Your Headlines, but Not Too Pushy
We’ve all heard the story of the salesman that sticks his foot in the door to prevent it from being closed, but that’s not what you want to do with your readers.
There’s a fine line between being persuasive and being pushy. See if you can tell which is which in these two headlines:
“19 Headlines You Must Use in Your Blog”
“11 Highly-Effective Headlines You Can Swipe for Your Blog”
If you guessed that the first was pushy and the second was persuasive, you’re correct. Now, tow that line carefully in your own headlines and work towards mastering the art of persuasion.
You’re Nearly There, You Just Need These Final Pointers to Really Knock it Out of the Park…
Congrats, you made it to the end of the list and are officially 1,052,0123% more effective at writing headlines! Ok, maybe that number was made-up, but you’ve no doubt got a few tricks up your sleeve now that you can use to write more effective headlines.
Just remember, writing headlines is an art, and it takes time to perfect. Practice writing 20+ headlines for each post and weeding it down to the top ten, top five, and finally, the one golden headline. Even better, have another experienced writer (or even your family and friends) pick their favorites. Getting more eyeballs and feedback on your work means that your headlines have a better chance of doing their job.
Most importantly, keep on testing, testing, and testing some more. There are no firm rules when it comes to headlines, just best practices that have been proven by extensive testing.
Pick out a few of these tricks to test with your next headlines and evaluate the effect it has on your click-through rates.