Your new blog article may be a masterpiece, but without a good headline, your post is basically dead in the water. There is a lot of competition for your reader’s attention – so you need to grab readers and compel them to click. For copywriters and marketers, that makes writing great headlines a must-have skill.
Luckily, there are some proven formulas for hooking your readers and getting them excited about your content. In this post I’m going to teach you how to write a powerful headline that your readers will love (and click).
Here’s What Makes a Great Headline
Your blog article title or headline is just one ingredient of a great piece of content – but it’s a pretty important one, as it’s the first thing your readers see.
There have been all kinds of studies done on the ideal length of a headline, words most likely to be clicked, words least likely to be clicked, and even capitalization styles. While these structural guidelines are important, capturing the “so-what” in your headline is critical.
A great article headline:
- Appeals to a specific target persona
- Demonstrates value – what’s in it for the reader?
- Is emotional – headlines with positive sentiment perform best
- Sparks curiosity in the reader – also known as the “curiosity gap”
A number of copywriters also rely on the “four U’s” as rules of thumb for writing great blog and article headlines.
Your headline should be:
Did you know that headlines with numbers perform extremely well?
Numbers are scannable, specific, and offer a preview of what’s to come. Headlines like 7 Ways to Groom Your Dog are some of the most-clicked titles on the web.
One more thing – never, ever be click-baity. Don’t promise something your content doesn’t deliver. It’s frowned upon and no one likes to feel duped.
2 Free Tools for Writing Great Headlines
When writing, spend some time with your headline. Rewrite it. Tweak it. Change one word and then maybe change it back. Spend a lot more time than you think you should on writing the best freaking headline you can write.
There are some tools to help you test and make improvements. But the final decision is yours.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer is one tool I swear by for testing out different blog post headlines. Paste your headline in the box and you’ll get an instant score, plus a quick assessment of what’s working and what’s not.
Use the suggestions provided to test and retest your headline until you’ve got a score of at least 70 or above. If your score is above 70, you’ll see a green circle. For lower scores, the circle is yellow or red.
The tool breaks your headline down into types of words contained in your headline:
- Power words
Shoot for a high ratio of emotional and power words to improve your headline.
Results also evaluate the headline’s:
- Number of characters
- Number of words
- Headline type – list, how to, generic
Let’s look at the title for the post you’re reading right now. While testing out headlines, my score jumped 4 points simply by adding the word “powerful”.
Headline Analyzer tells you when your headline is “too wordy”. According to this tool, headlines between 6 – 8 words get the most clicks.
You can also optimize for characters used:
I like to use this tool and then compare against a second free tool.
Writing an email campaign instead of a blog? Check out this email subject line tester.
Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer
Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is not the prettiest. But what it lacks in style it makes up for in insight.
You’ll receive an Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score in terms of a percentage, and a breakdown of which types of emotions your headline sparks within your customer.
Here are AMA’s results for one of my headlines:
Like with the other tool, you can test and test again with different variations. If you’re trying to target a specific phrase, I recommend trying to use the keyword phrase in the title.
Whether you’re a freelancer, SMB, marketing agency, or in-house marketer, content marketing can seem overwhelming or even mysterious at times. But know that you have access to expert support, plus a wealth of knowledge & tools out there. I promise – you’ve got this.
If you have any more questions about writing headlines or content strategy in general, let me know in the comments below, or message me here. And when in doubt, always bring it back to the basics – your customer and your why.