Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The headline is the one part of your content that gets the most exposure since 80% of the readers only read the headline. The quality of the headline determines whether a reader will stop scrolling, look at your content and click on it.
If the headline seems unappealing, your content may not get the attention it deserves, no matter how valuable, informative and engaging it may be. This is perhaps why traffic can vary by as much as 500% just because of the headline.
Therefore, compromising on the quality of the headline is the last thing you want to do.
How to write great headlines
Fortunately, writing powerful headlines involves no rocket science. You can quickly start churning out impactful headlines with a bit of practice. Writing great headlines is a combination of art and science. The internet is filled with formulas for headline writing. And they work too. But only so much.
You must blend your creativity, audience understanding and a bit of data with these formulas to create resounding headlines.
Here are a few tips on how you can go about doing that:
1. Think about your readers
It’s a customer-first world we are living in. In this case, reader-first.
You have to identify your audience’s problems and deliver effective solutions in an appealing manner to solidify your reputation and build loyalty.
Since the headline gets the most exposure, reflect your audience’s understanding and concentrate on the value your content adds to their life within it. This is the best way to show your audience you understand their struggles and get them to read your content to further hone in on the emotional bond you intend to create.
Be clear about what the article has for the reader. Will it entertain, educate, inform or inspire them? Will it answer a question or solve a problem?
For example, if you sell office chairs and know your prospects struggle with back pain, you can create a headline focusing on the pain point. Something like “7 Exclusive Office Chairs to Help Alleviate Your Back Pain” may help generate good results.
2. Use power words
Notice the word “exclusive” in the example headline above? That’s a power word.
Certain words trigger a psychological response, an emotion within humans. These words are called power words. Power words are divided into multiple categories based on the emotions they invoke. These categories may include greed, curiosity, trust, anger, fear, etc.
Including one of these words within the headline maximizes its impact. Your headline now triggers an emotional response within the readers and is more likely to get a click from them.
Let’s revisit the example headline above.
“7 Exclusive Office Chairs to Alleviate Your Back Pain”
Let’s take the power word out.
“7 Office Chairs to Alleviate Your Back Pain.”
Did the impact visibly reduce? It sure did.
That’s the power of power words. You can find a comprehensive list of power words here.
3. Don’t forsake authenticity
It is easy to go overboard with power words. But that would bring you closer to creating click-baity headlines. And savvy modern readers can spot click-baity headlines from miles away and dismiss the content and the brand that pushes such headlines.
Therefore, strike a balance when using power words.
Make sure the headline promises what the content delivers. Nothing is more annoying than clicking on an article to learn about one thing and finding something completely different, incomplete, or irrelevant instead.
Mold your headline to fit the article. For this, create the content and then write the headline to ensure it reflects the article’s content.
4. Stay on brand
The headlines may get the most eyeballs from your online content. Therefore, they must align with your brand’s personality. Think of the headlines here on Entrepreneur and compare them with those on Buzzfeed. You will be able to identify how brands stick to their brand personality through headlines.
5. Use numbers
The age-old headline tip. Use numbers.
Using numbers in headlines is an approach that is often overused. But it still works.
Numbers are more appealing to the human brain than words. They are easier to process and understand. More importantly, numbers help readers determine how long the content is and what they should expect more easily.
This is why 36% of readers prefer headlines with numbers.
Which of the following headlines do you think will be better:
“7 Exclusive Office Chairs to Alleviate Your Back Pain” or
“Office Chairs to Alleviate Your Back Pain.”?
The former. That’s because it tells the readers they have seven options inside and promises them that the article will be easier to skim through.
So, try and write numbered headlines. But again, don’t go overboard. Mix it up with other headlines to ensure your brand appears authentic.
6. Take care of the headline length
It is easy to get carried away when creating headlines. You want to write the most straightforward and impactful headline, after all. However, you have to stick to a character limit. 60-100 characters, to be exact.
Readers are almost always short on time. You have a few seconds to grab attention and deliver value. Therefore, stick to the character limit and consolidate all its value.
Do justice to your content
Creating content can be challenging. And once you are done writing your blog, you need it to be seen to serve the purpose it was designed for. Therefore, make sure to write headlines that generate clicks and do justice to your content.
You can do this by aligning the headline content with the user’s pain points, clarifying the value, including numbers and maintaining optimal headline length.
Also, test your headlines to see what resonates best with your audience. See which posts have garnered the most clicks and analyze their headlines. You might be able to pick critical headline-writing insights this way. Implement these insights to improve your headline writing game.