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How To Write Powerful, Compelling Headlines That Increase Blog Traffic

You know that saying which goes, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’?

Well, people say that, but when it comes to choosing which content to consume, that is exactly what they do.

Readers make snap judgments about your posts all the time. Your articles with better titles are read, while the ones with less compelling titles are passed over.

That is the reality bloggers have to face.

Unfortunately, not all content creators take the time to ensure that their headlines are the best they can be to get as many people as possible to read the post.

They spend hours crafting the perfect blog post and then slap the first title they can think of on it.

That is not the way to get people to click on your posts. If you want more readers to consume your content, then it’s time you start giving your headlines the appropriate level of attention.

Headlines can make or break your blog.

You see it all around you in popular culture where sites like CNN or BuzzFeed are thriving thanks to their ability to produce some of the most sensational headlines that get clicks. Their headlines cater to certain emotions of their target market, promising to deliver juicy things, and literally driving the news cycle.

Some of your very best work on your blog may be going unnoticed if it’s hidden beneath a boring headline.

But even if tons of people read your headline, only a small percentage of that number will actually click on it and read the post.

That’s just a fact.

Luckily, there are things that you can do to make sure that as many people as possible get the chance to consume your awesome content, and that’s exactly what we’re going to be discussing in this post.

On that note, it’s time to discover how you can make your headlines earn some serious clicks.

To Craft Great Headlines, You Need To Understand A Bit About Human Psychology

Your headlines have to motivate people to click on them, which means that you first need to understand exactly what would make someone do that.

You can’t write great headlines if you only see things from your own perspective.

Remember, that headline is not about you, it’s about the people at the other end who are going to be deciding whether or not to dedicate their time to reading your post.

In much the same way, you can’t write great headlines if you’re only concerned about SEO. Stuffing your title full of keywords might get you noticed by the search engines, but it won’t resonate with the humans who have to read your stuff.

So, how do you make it work?

Use the following strategies to help you craft better headlines:

1. Questions

Pose questions that your audience empathizes with. Don’t be afraid to make it personal.

An example of a headline that might work on this blog is ‘Do You Know The Easiest Way To Make Money From Your Blog?’

2. Surprise

Catch your readers off guard by including something totally unexpected in the headline such as ‘This Blog Post Sucks, Don’t Read It’.

3. Curiosity Gap

This one has to do with sparking your audience’s curiosity by creating an ‘open loop’ that they feel the need to close (like a cliffhanger). For instance: ‘7 Online Traffic Sources Nobody Told You About. Number 5 Will Absolutely Shock You!’

4. Negatives

All humans are motivated to move away from pain and toward pleasure.

But we tend to work harder to avoid pain than we do to get pleasure. This means that a headline like ‘Avoid Making These 3 SEO Mistakes’ would work effectively because it hits a pain point, and provides a way out of it.

5. How-To

This one is a classic, and it works so well because it communicates immediate value – so long as what you are showing them is actually something they want to know how to do.

For instance, ‘How To Launch A Blog From Scratch In Just 14 Steps’.

6. Numbers

Everyone loves numbers.

They make things less vague and more specific. Use specific numbers in your posts, as opposed to rounding them off. For instance, ’21 Effective Traffic Generation Strategies. Discover What They Have In Common’.

7. Audience Referencing

This is basically where you call out the particular audience segment that you are targeting, and ensure that the headline identifies with them specifically.

For instance, ‘The Ultimate Guide To WordPress: For Bloggers Who Aren’t Tech-Savvy’.

8. Specificity

Closely related to the previously discussed ‘numbers’ aspect, this is all about providing specific information and facts that are supported by data as opposed to broad theories. People value specificity in headlines.

For instance, ‘The 3-Part Headline Formula That Generated 1,032 More Clicks In 48 hours’.

As you’ve seen, this is very different from what most bloggers are taught when it comes to writing the best headlines.

A lot of blog owners’ experience with writing comes from high school or college, but in the ever-changing online world, you have to continue to learn and adapt if you want to achieve and maintain success in your marketing activities.

This very post that you’re reading could have been titled: ‘Effective Blog Post Headlines’.

That headline would certainly be accurate at describing what the blog post is about, but would it make you want to click on it and read more?

Probably not.

But because it’s titled ‘How To Write Powerful And Compelling Headlines That Increase Blog Traffic’, it taps into the readers’ psychology and makes them eager to read the rest of the post.

How To Improve your Blog Post Headline Writing Skills

Crafting great titles isn’t natural for a lot of us, but it’s a skill that can be learned and developed. Just as with all other skills, it requires practice.

You have to write tons of headlines. In fact, some marketing experts suggest that you should write 25 headlines for each post that you create.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

But when you stop to consider it, it actually makes a lot of sense, particularly if you’re just starting out. Why?

Because most of the headlines you come up with will probably be flat, boring, ridiculous, or they just won’t make sense (sorry, but it’s true).

Only a few will actually be sensational, but you may not hit on the one that sounds like music to your ears until you’ve written a few others first. So maybe this is a strategy that is worth a try?

But first, here are some headline formulas that you can use as templates:

Trying to craft those spectacular headlines all on your own might prove to be a bit frustrating, and even downright impossible. It helps to have some templates that you can use to make the process a little easier and to help get the creative juices flowing.

eadline Templates For Tutorials or Guides:
  • How To In
  • How To In Easy Steps
  • How To Make A More Powerful
  • How To The Right Way
  • The Complete Guide To
  • Ultimate Guide:
  • How To Know If
  • What To Do When
  • Quick Guide:
  • Advanced Guide:
  • The Beginner’s Guide To
  • Hack:
  • DIY:
  • Practical Guide:

Headline Templates For List Posts:

(Replace # with a number)

  • # Ideas
  • # Tips To
  • # Secrets To
  • # Amazing To Try Right Away
  • # Proven Techniques For
  • # Examples Of
  • # Essential Things For
  • # Reasons You
  • # That Every Should Own
  • # Little Known Methods To
Other Miscellaneous Headline Ideas:
  • Who Else Wants ?
  • What Everyone Should Know About
  • , Backed By Science.
  • The Big List Of
  • # Ways To
  • How To Even If
  • Lessons I Learned By
  • A Way To
  • # Warnings Signs Of
  • Shocking Truth About
  • # Lies Likes To Tell
  • # Little-Known Secrets That Could
  • Warning:
  • The Guide To
  • # Shortcuts To
  • Get Rid Of For Good
  • How To Like
  • ’s Top Strategies For
  • What Can Teach You About
  • How To While You
  • How To Be An Amazing In A World Of
  • # Steps To
  • What No One Tells You About
  • Who On Earth
  • You Won’t Believe
  • # Things I Wish I Had Known About
  • Quiz:
  • What The Heck Is ?
  • Why I Don’t
  • Who Else ?
  • Vs.
  • Why Beats .

Now that you have a list of formulas that you can sink your teeth into, let’s move on to the next part in the process of creating powerful and compelling headlines.

How To Find Creative Words To Tap Into Your Audience’s Emotions

Your headlines have to inherently contain a promise of what your content is about, and what your audience will benefit by reading it.

But you need to be able to do this with style.

So don’t just state simple facts, but instead, use descriptive words that not only give your headline more appeal but also get emotional responses from your viewers.

An example would be calling something ‘seductive’ or ‘chic’ instead of just ‘good’, which doesn’t have quite as much punch.

You need to find more powerful and interesting adverbs and adjectives that you can use in your headlines. Use a thesaurus to get some inspiration, but be careful not to choose words that people in your audience won’t understand.

For instance, everyone knows what the words exquisite and elegant mean, but nearly no one is familiar with the word ‘recherche’ which actually means the same thing.

So find interesting and unique words, but don’t get so fancy with your writing that you end up losing people.

Some Potential Adjectives That You Can Use Include:

Successful, Mind-blowing, Fascinating, Shocking, Brilliant, Essential, Effective, Eye-Catching, Attention-Grabbing, Juicy, Awesome, Seriously, Amazing, Valuable, Crazy, Fabulous, Powerful, Seductive, Insane, Alarming, Outrageous, Terrible, Scary – You get the picture…

The list goes on and on.

In fact, you could even keep your very own swipe file where you record all the interesting and unique headlines as well as the emotional words that you come across in your niche so that when you sit down to write your own, you have a great place to start from.

It makes it a lot easier than when starting from scratch.

Pro Tip:

When choosing the words that will resonate with your audience, you have to know the mindset and emotional tone of the people that you are targeting.

Google actually has a resource that has a load of interesting headline swipe files (and if it’s from Google, you know you can trust it, right?).

It’s actually a list of search results – specifically, PDF swipe files, containing tons of headlines that you can copy or steal to use in your own business.

You can download the files and save them to Evernote so that you can reference them when you need to.

Wrapping It Up

That brings us to the end of our post on how to write powerful and compelling headlines that will help to increase your blog traffic significantly.

Use this post as your guide and get started crafting your very own headlines that get more clicks, and you will not only bring more traffic to your blog but you will also start to see a whole lot more engagement on each of your posts.

Just make sure that your headlines don’t promise more than you deliver in the post, otherwise, you may experience the opposite effect to the one you desire.

Your audience won’t like being misled, and inaccurate headlines are a sure way of losing them.

Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!


Updated: Originally published October 18th 2018

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Padedayo

    There were a lot of great ideas in your post that I’ve never heard about before apart from WA. 

    It is  amazing how technology is really helped people in business and stepping up the marketing game in leaps and bounds. Great 👍 post. I know I will be utilizing some of those ideas going forward.What’s your go-to tool to drive traffic to site?

    1. Steven

      I’m happy to hear the post gave you some inspiration about headlines. They are some of the most important words you will write for any article, so, choose them carefully.

      Thanks for the comment Padedayo!

  2. tim

    This comment is going to blow your MIND!   How’s that for a title?   Seriously…great article.  Absolutely how you have connected the dots on these blog title strategies.  These are all very compelling ways to stand out in the crowd.

    People by nature are looking for solutions…but they also want to be entertained while they do it.  I appreciate the templates you’ve provided as well.  I definitely have your site bookmarked for future use.   I was wondering if your use these strategies along with Jaaxy to optimize keywords?

    I clicked through on your link to Wealthy Affiliates…is this something that is a good fit for someone new?

    1. Steven

      I don’t stress and strain much about keywords. They come second to a good headline. I figure, if I can work keywords in without ruining the effectiveness of the headline, then bonus. But I won’t ruin a headline just to force keywords into it.

      I do use Jaaxy for research and it helps with headline creation, but again, keywords aren’t my top priority when crafting them.

      And yes, Wealthy Affiliate is geared toward beginning affiliate marketers.

      Thanks for the comment Tim!

  3. Chris

    I have noticed, from my own experience, that crafty headlines get the most attention in the internet world – they always seem to stand out from the crowd on a page of search engine results. 

    Out of all the ‘techniques’ for headlines you have covered here, I’d say the surprising headlines work the best. For example, I once got a email from an affiliate and it’s title simply read ‘Don’t Open Me’ – absolute simple genius in my book, I HAD to open it! 

    1. Steven

      If you want someone to open a box, write ‘Private – Do Not Open’ on the outside. Curiosity is my favorite, we are wired to examine what makes us curious and it works really well with headlines. Think of a headline as something you would write on the outside of a box you wanted people to open.

      Sparking curiosity is surefire and not too difficult a technique to master.

      Thanks for the comment Chris!

  4. Daniel

    Very helpful and instructive article. I must agree with you that headlines are very important today and they can have a great impact on our business. I know many people who don’t care about headlines, they just worry about the content but headline is that will make people to click. I am using most of the tips written above but I see something that I need to improve. Thanks Steven

    1. Steven

      What good is quality content if no one ever sees it?

      Your headline is almost all the reader has to go on at first. If it doesn’t get their attention, one that will is close by, count on it. It’s some of the most important words you write for any article.

      Thanks for the comment Daniel!

  5. julienne murekatete

    Thank you for your post. I am writing a blog content but i didn’t know how to attract my audience attention by using attractive words as listed in your post. It is very crucial that the headline must be well shaped to make the writing interesting to the audience. With your post i got some ideas i am going to use to finish my website post.

    1. Steven

      You will get better with practice. You can also change the headline later if it performs poorly. Never change your perma-link text though, your article’s rank could tank if you do.

      Write out several versions of the headline, play with the words, rearrange, substitute…

      Once you have something YOU couldn’t resist clicking, try that out and see how it performs.

      Thanks for the comment Julienne!

  6. HappyB

    This is the help I have been looking for.How to grab the readers attention and then lead them through an excellent article.

    I think people’s attention span is very short these days and there is so much data competing for their attention that only the best wil get read.

    I confess, I have copied and pasted your lists into a word file for reference when I am writing articles.

    I rarely get stuck for words but there is always something better to say and a more exciting way to say it.

    I will gather some more adjectives together to add to your list, as I write.

    You mentioned SEO and I have in the past (200 articles, so far,) exclusively used strong SEO phrases. Do you suggest adding the “emotive” phrases on as a second half? or simply searching for strong keywords which include the emotive phrases.

    I have used JAAXY a lot recently to find ideal keyphrases and it has worked to a degree, but I am not yet getting the traffic that I should be.

    Thanks again for a really helpful article.

    1. Steven

      Creating good headlines is a tough art. Mix the requirement for keywords in there and you are approaching an impossible art…

      Try your best to mix the two together as best you can. You want your keywords as close to the beginning of the headline as possible while keeping it attention grabbing and emotive, all in a short, descriptive sentence. If you can manage that consistently, you are a true artist.

      Try several combinations of the wording before settling on a final headline and take your time.

      Sounds like you’re doing most of this already and with 200 articles under your belt, maybe I should be asking you questions. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment HappyB!

  7. Jurgen

    I invest a lot of time in thinking about the perfect headline for my articles, sometimes even a few days. It is so important because it really makes a difference as a good headline can easily win you more visitors, even if you’re lower ranked than a competing site with a boring headline.

    1. Steven

      You’re correct. A good headline could win you more traffic at spot 3 in the SERPs than the position 1 spot if done well. Of course, your article would eventually move to the first spot if that were the case.

      Sounds like you already knew how things are done. It’s worth the extra effort to craft excellent headlines.

      Thanks for the comment Jurgen!

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