Simple ways to make a headline more compelling

Brian Bojan Dordevic
About The Author

Brian Decoded

President at Alpha Efficiency

Join me at the forefront of web design and digital marketing innovation. I am obsessed with web design, business philosophy and marketing performance.
I write Conversion Insider newsletter.

Have you ever wondered why people ignore most of the blog posts they see and read only a few? The reason is simple – with tons of information available online, people usually proceed to read articles and ads that grab their attention within seconds. And the best way to make your content irresistible for potential readers is by writing a powerful headline. Headlines are the first and sometimes only chance to make a good impression and engage the target audience into reading your content. However, you need to be careful when writing headlines, because overpromising in them can prevent you from building long-term relationships with your website visitors. So what approach do successful content marketers take when it’s time to write headlines? In this article, you’ll get useful tips and tricks for writing compelling headlines directly from the copywriting experts from our digital marketing agency in Chicago.

Table of Contents
ways to make a headline more compelling

The Secret To Writing Better Headlines

Ultimately, the secret to writing better headlines is to focus on clarity and simplicity. A good headline should be able to quickly and effectively communicate the main idea of your article. It needs to excite readers without being so over-the-top or sensational that it feels clickbaity or misleading. The key is to strike a balance between being interesting and informative.

While becoming an expert at writing headlines takes time and consistency with practice, you can improve your skills quickly by paying close attention to several factors.  First, you need to develop an analytics-based approach when writing headlines, which will allow you to better connect with your target audience and improve your headline’s SEO value. Second, you need to become aware of common headline-writing myths that might be preventing you from establishing yourself as an authority in the online sphere. Then you can move on to polishing your technique and learning about tricks successful content marketers use to make a headline more compelling.

We’ll cover all of these topics in this article, so let’s start by learning more about our analytics-based approach to writing inspiring headlines.

An Analytics-Based Approach to Writing Inspiring Headlines

No matter if you are writing a social media post or an article for your website, you could benefit from analyzing different aspects of your headline before publishing it. Here is what we at Alpha Efficiency like to check to ensure our blog post and social media profile page headlines are inspiring:

Analyzing the target audience’s needs

To make a headline more compelling, you first need to invest efforts into better understanding your potential customers. Analyzing your target audience allows you to craft your headline based on where your customers currently are in their buying journey:

During the awareness stage, your potential customers are looking for a piece of information that will help them to better understand their problem. Your headlines should clearly indicate to people that they’ll get the necessary answers if they proceed to read the whole article.

During the consideration stage, potential customers fully understand their problem, and they’ll be looking for ways to solve it. However, they are not yet ready to buy a product or service until they fully understand the pros and cons of different solutions. At this point, you can write headlines that indicate your articles are comparing various approaches to their problem. Show them how they could benefit from your products or services.

During the decision stage, people have already chosen the approach to solve their problem, and they only want to make sure to find the right service provider to help them. This is where you need to make a final push and turn them into your customers. Creating a sense of urgency, which we will talk more about later in this article, might help you with that.

Analyzing your potential customer’s needs before writing headlines allows you to target the right emotions, use words and adjectives your ideal customers can relate to, utilize the right headline type for maximizing clickthrough rate, and more. It is also a good idea to invest efforts into understanding how web design impacts content marketing.

Thinking about the headline’s SEO value

It is crucial to check search engine optimization aspects of your headlines and adjust them in a way that will increase articles’ chances of ranking better in Google and other popular search engines. Here is how to make your headlines SEO-friendly:

  • Keep character count in mind – While Google doesn’t take headline character count when ranking web pages, it is a good idea to keep your headlines between 50 to 70 characters long so they could be fully visible on SERPs.
  • Conduct keyword research before writing a headline – Comprehensive keyword research will allow you to find a primary keyword to target with your headline, as well as its long-tail variations. Well-executed keyword research will help you improve your chances of ranking a piece of content in search engines. Sometimes it will be impossible to include an exact keyphrase without sacrificing grammar. In this case, you can try to rephrase the headline to incorporate the keyword without changing the overall meaning of the headline. For example, if your keyword is “apples” and the original headline is “Red fruit that grows on trees”, you could change it to “Apples: The red fruit that grows on trees”. Ultimately, the most important thing is to create a clear and compelling headline that accurately reflects the content of the article.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing – Including your focus keyword more than once in your headline is not an as good idea as it might first sound. By unnaturally repeating yourself, you will make a headline harder to read and irritate your target audience.
  • Properly position your primary keyword in your headline – It is recommended to put your focus keyword either within the first or last three words of your headline. This way, it will be much easier for potential readers to notice it.

Beware Of These Common Headline Writing Myths

What would you think of this article if its headline was something like – “You won’t believe this new formula for writing best headlines really exists”, “OMG these headline writing tips helped us boost sales x100”, and similar? While such headlines have become very popular recently due to several headline writing myths inexperienced writers easily get trapped by, and they might get you additional clicks  – we strongly advise you to avoid this approach when trying to write headlines for your blog posts or ads. In this section, we’ll debunk three popular myths that might be preventing you from writing compelling headlines:

1st Myth: Always exploit the knowledge gap with your headlines

As people have an evolutionary need to obtain new knowledge, writing headlines that create a specific knowledge gap allows you to evoke strong curiosity within your readers. While providing new valuable information to your target audience plays a crucial role in content marketing, exploiting the knowledge gap with your headlines without giving proper answers later in the article is a highway to losing credibility. One of the most important aspects content marketing vs native advertising have in common is that if your content doesn’t live up to expectations set by a headline, people will see your brand as less trustworthy and they will become unlikely to read your blog posts, click on your ads, or do business with you next time. So next time you write headlines, make sure not to create any knowledge gap you can’t fill.

2nd Myth: Shock your audience with headlines

Shocking headlines evoke a high level of excitement in readers and therefore generate a high clickthrough rate, but there is rarely a piece of content that can support the claims made in such headlines. With tons of information online, managing to shock your audience usually requires sacrificing quality and bending the truth. While it can be tempting to use shocking headlines to grab people’s attention, it is important to remember that this tactic can also alienate and even offend your audience. Experienced content marketers understand that this can damage your credibility, therefore they completely avoid shocking headlines and content based on rumors.

And to make things clear, there is nothing wrong with evoking excitement in your readers if your article contains high-quality information. Just make sure people don’t end up feeling manipulated after reading your content.

3rd Myth: Use sensationalism in your headlines

Sharing blog posts with sensational headlines on your social media profile page might get you a lot of clicks at first, but more often than not – this approach results in long-term traffic loss. People usually get intrigued by such headlines, but once they realize that the actual content is not delivering on the promise made in a title – many of them will not return to your website or social media profile page again. That’s why we recommend completely avoiding sensationalistic headline writing.

11 Tips To Make Your Blog Headlines More Compelling

Constantly failing to make website visitors click on your blog posts can be frustrating if you spend precious time preparing content strategy each day. Fortunately, learning how to make a headline more compelling can help you turn the tables in your favor. Let’s check some of the tips and tricks you can apply to start writing better blog post titles almost immediately:

Write headlines first

You should make it a habit to write headlines before moving on to the rest of the article. As headlines are promises to your potential readers that they will obtain specific information by reading a complete article, this approach will allow you to write a blog post in a way that fully delivers on all the promises made in a headline. This way, it will be much easier for you to stay on the right track during the writing process and build trust with your target audience.

Include numbers and data

Including a number is a powerful way to make a headline more compelling. This is because numbers are eye-catching and can communicate a lot of information in a short amount of space. When reading headlines, people are more likely to notice something numerical. And headlines such as “7 tips for…”, “10 ways to…”, and similar, provide a clear article structure your readers can then easily follow and better understand what to expect from a piece of content.

Also, it is good to know that small numbers are more visually attractive and that odd numbers look more authentic compared to even numbers. With further analysis, we’ve found out that the number seven, written numerically in a headline, usually leads to the highest clickthrough rate.

Make your headlines unique

Crafting a headline that stands out of crowd might sound like an obvious tip, yet many inexperienced content marketers seem to be afraid to experiment with headlines so they settle for templates, “safe” formulas, or even copying other people’s headlines. Next time, before publishing a blog post, try using Google’s search console to find out whether an article with the same headline already exists online. You can do it by putting your headline in quotation marks. The goal here is not to target a completely unique keyword. You just need to make sure your piece of content will stand out in the SERPs.

Be more specific in your headlines

Another powerful way to make a headline more compelling is by being ultra-specific. People have different questions they want an answer to, and by targeting a very specific topic with your headline and answering your target audience’s problems in the article you can build a loyal follower base and establish yourself as an authority within your niche. Ultra-specific headline enables people to immediately understand which knowledge they can obtain by reading your article. From time to time, it is okay to use mysterious headlines to intrigue your readers. However, only experienced content marketers can successfully pull such a technique off. By writing headlines that are too broad, you can easily confuse your target audience and lose many readers due to that.

Create a sense of urgency

You can make a headline more compelling by evoking a sense of urgency, as fear of missing out is the driving force behind many clicks on blog posts and ads. Unless you manage to create a sense of urgency with your headlines, some users might bookmark your article and never open it again. The goal is to make people step out of their routines and start reading your content immediately. You can achieve this by promoting a time-limited offer, a piece of information readers could quickly put to use to improve their lives, and more. Fear of missing out is very popular among copywriters, as they widely use it across various digital marketing platforms for making more potential customers explore their offers.

Provide useful information

In the digital era, people are constantly bombarded with content of different quality. To get more blog readers and followers on your social media profile page, you need to make it easy for people to quickly notice that you have written something that might help them. By putting useful information in your headlines, you can show potential readers that they’ll be able to learn something new if they invest time into reading a whole article. Try to evoke hope within your target audience and let them know that there is a solution to their problem. Providing useful information is especially important for small business owners who look for ways to expand their audience.

Use simple words

People quickly skim through blog post titles, so it is important to use words that are easy to read and understand. As simple words make good headlines, you should avoid trying to sound smart and aim to immediately let people know what knowledge they will obtain by reading your web article. Aim to include words your target audience uses in everyday life. For example, the words “dangerous” and “perilous” might mean the same thing – however, by using the first word not only will you avoid confusing your audience but you will also increase the SEO value of your headline as it has a much bigger search volume. Targeting the right keywords with your headline is crucial if you want to improve your web page ranking in search engines, and if you don’t have resources for comprehensive keyword research – consider hiring a professional SEO agency.

Address the readers in your headline

Addressing readers as “you” is another powerful way to make a headline more compelling. This word is attention-grabbing and it allows you to speak to your target audience on a more personal level. It can help you make people feel special by showing them that you have written a piece of content specifically for them. An example could be the headline of the article you’re currently reading.

Use strong adjectives

By using adjectives such as: free, essential, incredible, effortless, easy, proven, etc. you can grab the reader’s attention more easily. Adjectives are very important in both spoken and written English, so you don’t have to worry about sounding unnatural if you use them in your headline writing.

Write more than one headline for the same article

Brainstorming sessions can help you come up with better headlines. Never settle for the first headline for an article, as you can never know what ideas might come to your mind if you keep squeezing creativity juice. Also, don’t be too judgemental when brainstorming headline ideas – instead, write everything down and build a list from which you can choose later. Next time you’re writing a headline for your blog post, challenge yourself to come up with 20 different versions. You can combine tips and techniques we have written about in this article and see where it leads.

Practice makes perfect

While the “perfect” headline might not exist, improving your headline writing skills requires a lot of patience, so prepare yourself to go through a trial-and-error process. When you write headlines daily and invest efforts into studying other content marketers’ styles, after some time you’ll gain enough experience to quickly identify an amazing headline from the rest. Also, by getting to know what works for your target audience, you will be able to develop your own approach to writing headlines and use it to build long-term connections.

Get in touch

Are you having trouble engaging people with your website’s content? Our copywriting services in Chicago can help you evoke desired emotions within your target audience and turn leads into regular customers through the power of words. We look forward to learning more about your company so we could find the right marketing strategy platforms and enhance your content to open new business opportunities for you. By utilizing an effective content creation framework we can regularly produce high-quality content for your website and your profile pages on various social media platforms.

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