When it comes to being successful in internet marketing, most people focus on SEO and ranking in Google.
That is a really important approach, but you can’t overlook the value in catchy and interesting headlines.
Even if you rank first on Google for a given keyword, you still actually have to get people to click on your site and this isn’t as easy as it seems.
The headlines you create play a huge role in getting the attention of potential visitors, and they can affect your traffic and your profit.
What about SEO?
There are really two schools of thoughts when it comes to headlines.
Some people argue that you should always have your keyword in your headline for SEO purposes.
The concept is that doing this will help your website to rank.
That’s true – but only to a degree.
The thing is, search engine algorithms are fairly advanced nowadays, and they look at so much more than just how many times you can include your keyword and specifically where you put that keyword.
So, most of the time, using a keyword in your headline will have little effect on your overall ranking.
If you can manage to get your keyword in an interesting and catchy headline – then good for you.
This is very possible with a lot of keywords. However, if you have a long-tail keyword or just a difficult keyword, it isn’t so simple.
Often you end up with a choice.
Either you have your keyword in your headline or you have an attention-grabbing headline.
Which would you choose?
With so many website results out there, there is so much value in choosing catchy headlines.
This is an approach that can really differentiate you from your competitors.
In fact, the idea of using catchy headlines is still relatively new, by doing so, you may end up really standing out, which is rarely a bad thing.
Finally, it’s important to remember that SEO is only half of the battle when it comes to traffic.
Even if you can rank first page on Google, you still actually have to get people to click on your website.
The more interesting and relevant your site sounds, the better you can do this.
So, take advantage of your headline and take advantage of your meta description and write something that makes your site interesting and enticing.
Types of Headlines
It’s pretty easy to group all headlines into the same category, but there are actually some pretty distinctive types.
You can use the different types of headlines to your advantage.
For example, changing around the types of headlines you use can help to give your site some variation. Additionally, you can try and match the type of headline to your content.
Finally, you might choose to have a different type of headline than competitors for the keyword you are targeting, as this can really help you to stand out.
So, here are some of the basic types.
1. Asking a Question
Many headlines ask questions, and it can be a fantastic way to get your audience’s attention. For example:
Can Empower Network Make You Money?
Are You Struggling with Content Ideas?
What Changes is Google Making?
When it comes to asking questions, try to avoid ones that have an easy answer, particularly if that is an answer that your audience is likely to know.
Sometimes questions can also be good for narrowing down your audience. For example:
Do You Like MMOs? Have I Got a Surprise for You!
That question specifically targets people who play MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games).
That’s a relatively narrow audience, but it’s a fantastic approach to get targeted traffic.
In fact, if you were trying to sell products related to MMOs, then you would want to be specifically targeting that audience.
2. Providing an Explanation
When a headline tells a person how or why to do something, it tells them that the article is going to have a lot of useful information. This can be important because it tells them that the page isn’t simply going to try to sell something.
Some examples are:
How to Lose Weight Fast
Ten Ways to Earn Money Online
Tips and Ticks for Persuasive Writing
3. Announce Something
Announcements can be particularly useful if you are offering something new or unusual. For example:
Finally, a Better Way to Earn Money Online
Introducing a Brand New Way to Find Traffic
4. Provide a Testimonial
Testimonials are a valuable way of proving that you know what you are talking about. Some examples of this approach are:
How I Replaced My Job with an Online Business
I Lost 50 Pounds in Four Months
When it comes to a testimonial headline, you want to make sure that the testimonial you are providing is actually interesting to your audience.
Otherwise, you will get the wrong people visiting your site, or worse still no one.
5. Make an Offer
This approach is most common if you are a retail store or selling your own products, in which case you might end up with something like:
40% of Levi Jeans – This Week Only
However, this can also be used in affiliate marketing, like this:
Get Your Free Bonus with These Top Amazon Products
In this case, you would be providing people with some type of bonus if they purchased through your affiliate link.
6. Challenge Your Audience
Challenges tend to be a bit demanding, but they often work well, particularly if you have an audience that responds well to challenges.
This includes things like:
Replace Your Job With an Online Career Today!
I Dare You to Try This New Trick
Now, you will probably find that some types of headlines work much better with specific posts than others.
If nothing else, you can always try multiple different approaches and see what works best for you.
Picking Words Carefully
Regardless of what type of heading you choose, writing attention-grabbing headlines isn’t really about what you say, but about how you say it.
You are very limited in the space you have, so you need to make sure that take advantage of every letter you have.
Some words are very powerful and grab the attention of your viewers pretty much instantly, but other words just don’t get the same effect.
Here are some examples of words that are good at grabbing attention.
All of these terms are things that make people look twice and they can turn a normal headline into something great)
I also found this fantastic headline analyzer from a site called CoSchedule (you can visit it here).
This is a free tool that gives you a score for any headline, based on a number of different factors.
The tool takes into account the words you use, the type of headline, its length and a few other factors.
The tool is great for offering guidance.
However, you should use it with care. The tool scores headlines based on an algorithm.
That algorithm is never going to interpret things exactly the same as an actual person.
So, sometimes you might end up with something that the algorithm hates, but that people really like (the reverse is also true).
Despite that, the tool is useful as a general guide and I find that it helps me a lot during the brainstorming process.
Why Should People Visit?
Your headline should focus on the major benefit that your page offers.
You don’t have enough space to explain every benefit, but you need to make sure that people know exactly what the site is about and why they should go there.
For example, if I was writing about persuasive writing, my headline might be:
Five Killer Techniques to Maximize Persuasion
However, I might take a different stance and say:
Maximize Your Sales through Persuasive Writing
In the first case, the emphasis is on persuasion.
However, in the second case, the emphasis is about making money through persuasion.
Because of this, the second example is well suited towards internet marketers.
Both of the titles provide information about why a person should visit the website, but they are targeted at different audiences overall.
Specific Headline Formulas
Some headline formulas can be surprisingly effective at getting the interest and clicks that you are after.
These are some good ones and there are many others out there.
However, when you use headline formulas, you need to be very careful.
If you use the same formula multiple times on a site, there is a chance that the people who come across your site will start to recognize it.
With any headline formula, you don’t have to follow it exactly; the idea is to follow the general theme or approach.
1. Lies about [something common]
- All the Lies about Fat versus Carbohydrates
- Are You Being Lied to About Making Money Online?
- Questions You Should Be Asking About Weight Loss
2. [Threat] [Solution]
This is particularly useful for problems that don’t seem to have easy solutions.
- Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Quickly and Naturally
- Avoid a Heart Attack by Changing Your Diet
3. Secret of [anything]
While this formula can be effective, be careful with it, as it is often overused.
- The Number One Secret For Protecting Yourself Online
- A Sneaky Secret for Getting Your Loan Approved
- The Secret that the Best Internet Marketers Use
4. Who Else Wants [anything]
Terms like who else wants are important because they provide a type of social proof.
When you say ‘who else’, you are implying that there were already some people interested in what you are promoting.
- Who Else Wants a Free eBook?
- Who Else Wants to Make Money Online?
You could also use other terms in a similar way, such as:
- Who else needs to [anything]
- Does anybody else [anything]
5. Quick Ways to [something that takes time]
People are always looking for fast ways to do things, particularly when it is something that takes a long time.
- Quick Ways to Make Money Online
- Fast Ways to Lose Weight
A similar approach to this is something like:
- Easy Ways to [something difficult]
6. This [something] Trick is Just Too Easy
There are a lot of different variations to this particular formula, but the general idea is to make it sound like whatever tip or trick you are offering is easier than what people would expect.
This is a formula that you need to be careful with because you risk making your page sound scammy.
It is an approach that scam internet marketers often use to promote products that simply don’t work.
7. Top [number] Ways to [something]
This type of headline is very useful if your post is a list of things or ideas.
- Top 5 Ways to Earn Money Online
- Best 3 Secrets for Weight Loss
- 10 Fantastic Ways to Improve Health
Now, these are only a few of the many different headline formulas out there, and honestly, I could dedicate a whole post to different formulas. But, I’m not going to.
Headline formulas are fantastic tools, but I think they are a bit limiting.
If you can figure out catchy and interesting headlines yourself without using a formula, then you are more likely to have headlines that are different than anyone else’s.
Things to Consider
Should You Play on Words?
There’s a bit of debate about whether your headline should be a play on words or not.
A lot of websites suggest that your headlines are always straight to the point and clear.
Honestly, I don’t think so.
You have two tools at your disposal for convincing your audience to visit your site.
These are the title and the meta description.
You can use your title to grab the attention of your audience while the meta description provides you with the chance to explain your site a bit better.
This can actually be a really good approach if you are in a niche where most websites use similar headlines.
Because of this, being clever or even being somewhat obscure can sometimes pay off.
Another approach is to use your headline as a way of getting people curious.
One example of this is offering a new approach of doing something, like losing weight, getting healthy or earning money.
How Much to Reveal
With a headline, you often have to decide how much to reveal about your post.
For example, if you are writing a review, you mightn’t want your readers to know whether it is a positive or negative review until after they have actually read it.
This is particularly important for people who are trying to change their audience’s mind.
Another thing is that you might choose to mask what product or service you are promoting.
For example, it isn’t uncommon to develop a site that promotes a specific product or a very narrow range of products.
If you were doing this, you probably wouldn’t want to advertise what you are promoting in every headline that you make.
Ultimately, how much you reveal is up to you, but it’s worth remembering your main goal is to get people to click on your link.
Should You Be Misleading?
Being misleading in a title is never a good idea.
It might sound nice in theory, and this will get you the clicks onto your site that you want, but in the long-term, the strategy doesn’t work.
I mean, what happens when you click on a link that ends up being something completely different than what you expect?
If you’re like most people, you will leave the site immediately.
Even if your audience does stay on the site, they are very unlikely to actually make a purchase.
The whole point of using keywords to rank your site to start off with is to get traffic that is related to what you are promoting.
Specifically, you are looking for people who are likely to purchase your product.
If you are misleading in your heading, then you will probably attract the wrong group of people, in addition to annoying them.
For example, a common approach for reviewing internet marketing products is to attach scam to the title, such as.
Don’t Get Fooled by the Empower Network Scam
However, in many cases, the review itself will actually be promoting the product or service, rather than exposing it.
This is a very bad technique, and it simply won’t lead to profits.
In fact, it will dramatically undermine your online reputation, and that reputation is really what contributes to your sales.
A lot of fields have very specific jargon.
Whether you use this jargon or not really depends on what audience you are looking for.
For example, if you had a site focused on camera equipment for people who were experienced and passionate about using cameras, you might pick terms like:
- DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera)
- Exposure compensation
- Macro lens
However, you wouldn’t want to use any of those terms if you were targeting an audience that used cameras casually or was just starting to get involved in photography seriously.
Using jargon for an audience that will understand it does have significant advantages.
In particular, it helps to make sure you get the audience you are looking for, as those are the ones who are most likely to buy what you are promoting.
Think about Headline Length
Finding a good length for your headline can be tricky.
In general, the longer you make your headline, the more you can say in it.
However, if your headline is too long the end will get cut off.
Sometimes this won’t matter, but if you have a clever title, then you will lose some of your impact.
Having the title cut off like that also looks sloppy because it seems like you couldn’t be bothered working out the right length (which is probably true).
So, to most people, this second example will probably look better than the first one.
Getting the headline length right can really make your post stand out and more importantly, it makes sure that some of your message doesn’t get lost in the process.
It used to be that there was a set length for a headline to show up in full. So, if you had a title of around 55-60 characters (including spaces), you could be reasonably sure that the entire thing would show up.
That’s not really the case now.
Recently, Google redesigned its headlines, increasing the font size for titles, but not changing the space that fonts go into.
So, headlines that used to fit perfectly now get cut off.
Writers tend to look for an exact length that will fit into the title frame, but it just doesn’t work like that.
Realistically, the number of letters (and spaces) you have in your heading is only half of the story.
What letters you actually choose are just as important.
If you are writing a headline that is close to the maximum length, there are few things you have to consider.
1. Letters vary in width
In writing, you will find that some letters take up much more space than others.
Most of the time, this isn’t something you notice because it doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference.
However, when you only have a small number of characters to work with, the difference in letter size can make the world of difference.
This is actually particularly significant in Arial, which is the font that Google uses for its headlines.
You can see this difference from these two images (sorry for the random meta descriptions).
The search terms might have been completely nonsensical, but the outcome does illustrate my point well.
As you can see, the five w’s in the first image take up much more space than the five l’s in the second image.
So, if you have a title that is heavy on the larger letters, like W and M, it will take up considerably more space than a title that is heavy on l and i.
This brings me to my next point.
2. Beware Capitals
Not surprisingly, capital letters are wider than their lowercase counterparts.
So, if you put a title all in caps, it is going to take up considerably more space than a title that is a mix of the two.
Personally, I suggest that you only use capitals at the start of words or for words like NATO that are actually supposed to be written like that.
If you write whole words in capitals any other time, you look like you are shouting, and this isn’t a good way to engage your audience.
3. Search Query Matters
Whenever you search for something, Google bolds the search phrase in your results.
This is a useful feature if you are the person searching, but each word that is in bold takes up a little more space than it would otherwise.
Most of the time this won’t make much of a difference, but it you are close to the cut-off limit and if the search phrase is long, it may just be significant.
In the example below, the difference between the two search queries was about two characters.
While there is no perfect count, titles that are around 50-55 characters in length are safe most of the time, unless you are using a lot of capitals or something like that.
Now, you don’t have to have titles that fit within this limit, but it does help to make your titles engaging.
How to Write a Good Headline
With all that we have talked about so far, you can probably see that there are a lot of different things to consider when it comes to writing a good headline.
Even when you know what features make a good headline, actually figuring one out can be challenging.
Much like writing, I still find myself sitting and staring at the screen sometimes, trying to figure out what I want to say and how I want to say it.
So, how do you get around that?
Practice helps of course, but there are a few other approaches that can help too.
1. Write the title last
When you’re writing, it’s tempting to do things in order and start with the heading.
The problem with doing this is that you don’t really know how the writing is going to turn out before you start.
Personally, I always put a placeholder heading in and write the document, then go back and work on the real headline last.
That means that as I am writing the headline is always at the back of my mind.
Often, I have a good idea of what I want for the headline when I get to the end of my writing because of that.
2. Wait a little
If you don’t need to post the piece of content the day you write it, waiting until you are in a more creative mood can often help.
Often, when you take a break, the problem you are working on keeps on ticking in the back of your mind and sooner or later you come up with an answer without even realizing you were thinking about it.
Personally, I find it easiest to work on a number of titles in one sitting.
This lets me get into that frame of thinking, and after one or two titles the process gets a lot easier.
However, this approach only really works if you have a tendency to write content in advance, which isn’t something that everyone does.
3. Get input
I love having someone to bounce ideas off when it comes to anything creative.
This is particularly true with headlines because your space is so limited to start off with.
There are a few different approaches to doing this.
For example, you might choose to chat with someone else in the internet marketing field, and talk about headlines that are likely to get clicks.
Alternatively, you might have some ideas already and talk to a friend about which of them seem the most appealing.
4. Read other headlines
Sometimes other people’s headlines can provide a whole lot of inspiration for your own headlines.
I wouldn’t suggest directly taking anyone’s headlines, but often you can get an idea of a specific structure or an interesting term to use.
Sometimes doing this can be enough to give you a jolt of inspiration.
Applying These Concepts
There is a lot of advice in this post, and it would be pretty much impossible to follow all of it for any given headline.
However, keeping some of these concepts in mind can really help you to design headlines that stand out from the crowd.
After all, your headline is one of the most important things for getting people to visit your site in the first place.
If your headline is boring or doesn’t provide enough information, you will probably lose traffic because of it.
When it comes to figuring out headlines, sometimes you can just get stuck. Perhaps you run out of creative energy or maybe it seems like all the good ideas have already been used by other sites.
One way around this is to get ideas or feedback from other people.
I find that the community at Wealthy Affiliate can be a great way to get feedback on a title, or on pretty much anything for that matter.
Wealthy Affiliate itself is actually a training site that teaches people how to build websites and make money from them. But, it also has a large community and that community can be a great way to get feedback and advice on any topic that you can imagine.