7 Proven Ways to Create Powerful Headlines for Your Content

You’ve seen the “STOP” and “SLOW DOWN” signs on your local highways, right? Even if you’re driving at 100 kph, you read them and obediently follow the instructions.

You hardly ever miss them because they’re in your face with a clear message.

That’s exactly what a magnetic headline does as well.

It makes your readers stop and take notice, even if they have a hundred other posts on their Twitter or Facebook timelines.

But if your headlines are boring, you’re effectively invisible to your audience – no one sees you.

Studies show that 80% of people read headlines, but only 20% actually read the full piece of content that follows.

So how exactly can you create headlines for your blog posts that catch eye-balls and get noticed?

Thankfully, with so much research into web copy and persuasion, there are exact formulas that you can apply to your blog headlines and make them more attractive.

Here are seven of them.

1. Deliver Tangible Value By Using Numbers and Data

Using numbers in your headlines is one of the best ways to get noticed and increase click through rates. Research after research confirms that readers are much likelier to click on a headline that includes numbers than a plain text headline.

A study by Conductor found that readers click more frequently on headlines that include numbers.

overall-headline-preferences-chart

Studies have also found that the higher the number, the more effective your headlines becomes.

That is why longer list posts have such high click through and social sharing rates.

For example, here’s a simple headline

  • Reasons Why Most People Fail Their First Driving Test

Now look how using numbers can make it more interesting

  • 13 Reasons Why 73% of People Fail Their First Driving Test

Headlines with numbers are so effective because they give your readers a certain value that they can expect from your post. It gives clarity to your message and the promise you’re making in your headline.

2. Entice Readers With a Clearly Stated Benefit

People read content because they’re looking for solutions to specific problems. The problem could be anything – curiosity, boredom, need for specific information etc.

When you create benefit driven headlines, you’re actually highlighting the solution to your readers’ problems. It gives them a strong reason to click on the headline and read the full content. The more clearly you communicate a benefit, the higher click through rates you’ll get.

Here are a couple of examples of really useful and benefit driven headlines

  • Why Do Sites Rank High on Google When They Aren’t Optimized
  • How Create Professional Client Proposal in Minutes

Notice how both these headlines make the benefit very clear. They have identified the problem their readers are facing, and they directly address the solutions.

For example, the second headline highlights a couple of benefits.

  • Create professional client proposals (effective, good looking, comprehensive)
  • In Minutes (save time)

That is how you capture the attention of your readers.

3. Trigger Action With Emotionally Driven Headlines

Your readers are humans, not just numbers. And humans have emotions. Headlines that successfully trigger the right emotions in their readers drive more action.

You can do that by using powerful words that evoke emotion.  Words like amazing, breathtaking, unbelievable, eye-opening, miraculous, daring etc. are examples of powerful words that spur your readers into action.

These are adjectives that grab your reader’s attention and make your headlines stand out.

Emotional headlines also work well since they touch the readers at a personal level. They make them feel human.

Here are a few examples of such headlines

  • The Writing Formula That’ll Make You Powerful, Persuasive and Popular
  • How To Quit Your Job, Move To Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World
  • 11 Mindblowing Scientific Discoveries That’ll Change Healthcare Forever

However, using too many adjectives in one headline can reduce its effectiveness. So make sure every power word is actually adding some value to your headline and is not just there to fill the space.

4. Use Question Based Headlines to Generate Curiosity

When your headlines ask questions, they immediately trigger curiosity in the reader’s mind. The stronger the question, the more curios your readers will become. That is why question based headlines are much more effective than plain statements.

For example, which headline will grab your attention?

  • Don’t Struggle To Attract Traffic To Your Blog
  • Are You Struggling To Attract Traffic To Your Blog?

The second headline will make you click on it, while you’re likely to ignore the first one.

When a reader sees a question-based headline, he assumes that your content answers that question. It creates a certain level of credibility and makes your heading much more click-worthy.

5. Create “How To” Headlines to Grab Attention

“How To” posts are among the most popular types of content and rarely fail to grab attention. Just like question-based headlines, they evoke a strong sense of curiosity in your readers.

But it also makes them feel that they’ll miss out on valuable information if they do not read what’s inside. How-To is a promise that you’re making in your headline. You’re promising your readers to comprehensively cover a topic and tell them everything they need to know.

That’s why you should only use this heading format when you can actually deliver on the promise. Otherwise you’ll lose credibility.

For example, here are a couple headings that’ll surely make heads turn

  • How To Build a Thriving Email List in 3 Months Even If You’re on a Tight Budget
  • How To Make Your Readers Beg You For More Content and Pay You In Advance

Typically, How-To posts are longer than other post formats, and include a step by step guideline for achieving a certain target.

6. Create Conversational Headlines for Higher Engagement

Controversy sells!

You see it every day on television, news channels and social media. Controversial topics, opinions, people or anything else associated with controversy generates interest among people.

That’s exactly why controversial headlines work so well.

They challenge the conventional wisdom and go against the beliefs of people. Naturally, this gets them interested and engaged in your content.

Here are a few examples of effective controversial headlines

  • Content is NOT the King, It Never Was and Never Will Be (And Who Actually Rules)
  • Why SEO is a Waste of Time and What You Should Be Doing Instead
  • Bigger the Expert, Bigger the Lier – 10 Content Marketing Myths You’ve Always Believed

However, these are high risk headlines that can easily get people offended. You need to use them carefully and ensure that you have solid research to back your argument. Using them too frequently can brand your business in the wrong way.

7. Use Negative Superlatives

Just like controversial headlines, using negatives words in your headlines can also trigger a strong interest in your content.

Negative headlines tap into the insecurities of your readers and create a strong sense of guilt in them. It makes them feel left behind and on the wrong track.

All of these things are good if your content is actually helping your readers.

Here are a few examples of negative headlines

  • 17 Reasons Why You’ll Continue To Struggle as a Blogger in 2016
  • The Simple Reason Why You’re Just Another Average Blogger That Nobody Cares About
  • You’re Destined for Failure in Business (Unless You Change This Habit)

However, the negative headline formula should be used sparingly. Using it frequently can demotivate your readers and make them lose interest in your content.

Wrapping Up

In the age of social media and information overload, crafting eye-catching and effective headlines is more important than ever before. Ideally, you should spend a significant portion of your writing time in finalizing your headlines.

The different types of headlines I’ve shared in this post will help you understand what makes a headline attractive and why people click on them.

But these are just guidelines. Ultimately, it comes down to how well you understand your audience and tailor your headlines according to their interests.

What other headline types do you know about? And which headline formula works the best for you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.