Learning how to write headlines is critical. Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader.
Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. But a headline can do more than simply grab attention.
A great headline can also communicate a full message to its intended audience, and it absolutely must lure the reader into your persuasive writing.
This epic guide to headline writing will show you the way …
How do you write headlines?
At its essence, a compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more.
In The Copywriter’s Handbook, copywriter Bob Bly sets forth eight time-tested headline categories that compel action and rake in sales.
Let’s take a look at each.
1. Direct headlines
Direct headlines go straight to the heart of the matter, without any attempt at cleverness. Bly gives the example of Pure Silk Blouses – 30 Percent Off as a headline that states the selling proposition directly. A direct blog post title might read Free Ebook: SEO Simplified.
2. Indirect headlines
An Indirect headline takes a more subtle approach when you’re learning how to write headlines. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind, which the body copy answers. Often a double meaning is utilized, which is useful online.
An article might have the headline Fresh Bait Works Best and yet have nothing to do with fishing, because it’s actually about writing timely content that acts as link bait.
3. News headlines
A News headline is pretty self-explanatory, as long as the news itself is actually, well … news. A product announcement, an improved version, or even a content scoop can be the basis of a compelling news headline. Think Introducing Digital Copywriter.
4. How to headlines
The How to headline is everywhere, online and off, for one reason only — it works like a charm. Bly says that “Many advertising writers claim if you begin with the words how to, you can’t write a bad headline.” An example would be, umm … oh yes … the title of this post.
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5. Question headlines
A Question headline must do more than simply ask a question. It must be a question that, according to Bly, the reader can empathize with or would like to see answered. He gives this example from Psychology Today: Do You Close the Bathroom Door Even When You’re the Only One Home?
6. Command headlines
The Command headline boldly tells the prospect what he needs to do, such as Exxon’s old Put a Tiger in Your Tank campaign. Bly indicates that the first word should be a strong verb demanding action, such as Subscribe to Copyblogger Today!
7. Reasons why headlines
Another effective technique when you’re learning how to write headlines is the Reason why model. Your body text consists of a numbered list of product features or tips, which you then incorporate into the headline. For example, 100 Reasons Why WordPress Beats Squarespace.
It’s not even necessary to include the words “reasons why.” This technique is actually the underlying strategy behind the ubiquitous blogger “list” posts, such as 8 Ways to Build Blog Traffic.
8. Testimonial headlines
Finally, we have the Testimonial headline, which is highly effective because it presents outside proof that you offer great value. This entails taking what someone else has said about you, your product or service, and using their actual words in your headline.
Quotation marks let the reader know that they are reading a testimonial, which will continue in the body copy. A testimonial example from Digital Copywriter: “Ease that lonely feeling, that fear of making a mistake.”
Why you should always write your headline first
If you want to learn how to write headlines and even better content, start with the headline first.
You’ll of course have a basic idea for the subject matter of your blog post or sales copy.
Then, simply take that basic idea and craft a killer headline before you write a single word of the body content. Why does this help you meet your writing goals?
Your headline is a promise to readers. Its job is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time.
Promises tend to be made before being fulfilled
Writing your content first puts you in the position of having to reverse-engineer your promise. Turn it around the other way and you have the benefit of expressly fulfilling the compelling promise you made with the headline.
This ultimately helps keep your content crisp and well-structured.
Trying to fulfill a promise you haven’t made yet is tough, and often leads to a marginal headline and blog post introduction. And a poorly-crafted headline allows good deeds (you know, like your content) to go unnoticed.
Headline writing that gets results
Despite the fact that every copywriter and every journalist knows the power of headlines, many still underestimate their importance.
So, here are some anecdotes, facts, and guidelines.
They’ll help you write even better headlines (and also let you know how much you should focus on them).
The 50/50 rule of headlines
According to some of the best copywriters of all time, you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on the headline.
So if you have a blog post that is really important to you or your business, one that you really want people to read, you should downright obsess over your post title.
Advertising legend David Ogilvy knew the power of headlines, and how the headline literally determined whether the advertisement would get read. He rewrote this famous headline for an automobile advertisement 104 times:
“At 60 miles an hour, the only thing you hear in the new Rolls Royce is the ticking of the dashboard clock …”
Master copywriter Gene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece — the headline and the opening paragraph. Those 50 words are the most important part of any persuasive writing, and writing them well takes time.
Even for the masters.
The 80/20 rule of headlines
Here are some interesting statistics.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.
The better the headline you craft with sharp proofreading and editing, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people.
Writing a great headline doesn’t guarantee the success of your writing. The benefit conveyed in the headline still needs to be properly satisfied in the body copy, either with your content or your offer.
But great body content with a bad or even marginal headline is doomed to go largely unread.
How to write a headline
Ready for a lesson on how to write headlines?
We looked at the different categories of headlines that work above, and now we’ll look at analytical techniques for producing great headlines.
The copywriting trainers at American Writers & Artists teach The Four U’s approach to writing headlines:
Headlines, subheads, and bullets should:
- Be USEFUL to the reader,
- Provide him with a sense of URGENCY,
- Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE; and
- Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.
In a classic issue of Early to Rise, Clayton Makepeace says to ask yourself six questions before you start to write your headline:
- Does your headline offer the reader a reward for reading?
- What specifics could you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable?
- Does your headline trigger a strong, actionable emotion the reader already has about the subject at hand?
- Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding his or her head?
- Could your headline benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction?
- Could you add an element of intrigue to drive the prospect into your opening copy?
Makepeace’s six questions combined with the basic structure of The Four U’s provide an excellent framework for writing spectacular headlines. And you’ll note that just about any headline that satisfies the framework will fall into one of the eight categories you learned above.
It takes work and focus to learn how to write headlines, but the effort will make you a more effective writer and a more profitable businessperson.
What’s in a killer “how to” article that gets attention?
It’s no secret that “how to” articles and blog posts are some of the most popular content online. People want useful information, and they’ll reward you by promoting it to others when you provide it.
The biggest battle is getting enough people to read in the first place. And that battle is won or lost at the headline.
What’s more, writing a killer “how to” headline will help you write even better “how to” content when you fulfill the headline promise you made to get people to read in the first place.
It’s all about benefits
The crazy thing about the popularity of “how to” content is the fact that people don’t really want to learn how to do anything else.
They’ve got plenty to do already, thank you.
But it’s exactly due to the crazy busy lives we lead that prompts us to seek out tips, tricks, and methods to make things better, easier, and ultimately happier for ourselves. Focusing on the “better, easier, and happier” is the key. It’s crucial to keep it in mind while mastering how to write headlines.
It’s not that people aren’t smart enough to understand the implied benefits of learning how to do something. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It’s just that implied benefits don’t prompt action like express benefits do.
Get through scanning filters
People smartly employ aggressive attention filters when scanning headlines, and you’ll get through the filters of a lot more people if you spell out the benefits rather than relying on implication.
Plus, body content that focuses on benefits as well as procedures is more emotionally engaging, which leaves the reader feeling better satisfied at the conclusion of the piece.
It’s been said that it’s almost impossible to write a bad “how to” headline. That may be true, but what comes after those two magical words can make all the difference in the amount of attention and readership your writing gets.
Let’s take a look at the structure of a few famous “how to” headlines, and see if we can’t figure out why they work. Then, we’ll adapt them to new situations and content.
Double the benefits, double the power
This may be the most famous “how to” headline ever:
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Before Dale Carnegie’s classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People was conventionally published, he sold it by mail order with that same title as the headline of the sales letter. Certainly Carnegie’s content was compelling, but that headline is brilliant all by itself.
The headline structure is powerful. You’ve got benefit number one right after “How to,” with another benefit following the word “and.” Simple, right?
Deceptively so, as copywriter David Garfinkel has pointed out. There is a subtle relationship between the first benefit and the second that suggests if you can achieve the first, you can automatically achieve the second.
In this case, that implication doesn’t make sense — lots of people have friends and yet are completely lacking in influence. But that cause-and-effect relationship still likely helped Carnegie achieve greatness with his home-study course, and later with the ubiquitous book.
It’s much smarter from a credibility standpoint to use this structure when benefit one and benefit two are actually related. Here are a few examples that Garfinkel gives in his book.
- How to Save Time and Get Things Done (Time Management Coach)
- How to Get a Better Job and Make More Money (Recruiter)
- How to Save Money and Retire Rich (Financial Planner)
The dual benefit “how to” structure will always work if you logically link the two together and deliver relevant and substantive tips with your content. Give it a try.
How to [Mundane Task] That [Rewarding Benefit]
This one look familiar? 😉
It’s often harder than you might think to extract the true benefits of learning how to do something. Often, you can simply take a normal “how to” title and make it better simply by using the transition word “that” immediately following the subject matter of the tutorial.
Once you add “that,” just ask yourself what the top benefit of your tutorial is. Then figure out the best way to say it (which usually means being as specific as possible).
- How to Get a Mortgage That Saves You Money
- How to Get a Mortgage That Cuts your Monthly Payment in Half
- How to Get a Mortgage That Gets You in Your Dream Home While Saving You $937 a Month
Leaving out the “to” works, too
Want to increase the curiosity factor of your headline, while just about guaranteeing that you’ll nail the primary benefit of your tutorial?
Start with “How” but leave out the “to.” You’ll still be making a beneficial promise to your reader that will be fulfilled in the content, but the intrigue factor will be higher and your results perhaps even better.
Let’s look at these famous headlines:
- How I Improved My Memory in One Evening
- How I Made a Fortune With a “Fool Idea”
- How a New Kind of Clay Improved My Complexion in 30 Minutes
Those are pretty intriguing headlines, right?
The more you focus on the benefits to the reader when you’re learning how to write headlines, the more readers you’ll have. And by touching on the beneficial aspects while laying out the procedural content, you’ll have more happy readers at the conclusion of the article.
The cheater’s guide to writing headlines
Imagine the creative life of someone who’s learned how to become a freelance writer … a solitary figure staring intently at a computer screen (or out the window), flexing those mental muscles to create a killer headline out of thin air that will result in millions of dollars in sales.
Well, maybe not.
A more likely scenario has the copywriter looking for inspiration in her collection of winning space ads and sales letters. She’ll also consult books that consist of nothing more than collections of headlines proven to work.
Enter: swipe files
These compilations are called swipe files, and they’re worth their weight in gold when it comes to crafting great headlines.
Because great headlines are constructed in certain time and money-tested ways that can be adapted into different contexts and re-used over and over.
Anytime a promotion rakes in big bucks, you can bet copywriters and direct marketers will be studying, and saving, that headline for future reference.
In fact, swipe files can’t even really be considered cheating or a violation of marketing ethics. It’s just the way it’s done if you want to write effective copy, especially when starting out.
Only once a copywriter has a true understanding of what works can they take a completely original approach. Even then it’s pretty rare to come up with a gangbuster headline that is 100% unique.
You need to understand why certain headlines work
Unfortunately, you’ll still find people selling headline swipe files and even software programs that promise a “fill-in-the-blank” solution based on the “greatest headlines” ever written.
Don’t get suckered by this.
The problem with that approach should be obvious. If you don’t understand why a particular headline works, you’ll never be any good at writing them. Plus, without real understanding, you’ll likely choose the wrong “formula” for any given situation, which can cause even a well-written headline to fail.
But starting with these tested headline formulas can improve your content titles immediately, which in turn should translate into more readership and traffic.
Next we’ll examine keywords and why they’re important in a headline. The answer may not be what you think.
Do keywords in headlines really matter?
The search engine optimization camp says keywords are the most important aspect of a blog post title.
How else will you rank high in the results and get more traffic, they say, if the right keywords are missing from the title?
On the other hand, you’ve got the purist “write for humans” camp, who collectively scoff at the notion of keyword research for headline writing.
What’s the point of search optimized post titles if no one reads (and links) in the first place?
Well, here’s the verdict.
But not necessarily for the reasons some SEO folks think.
Doing keyword research is a magical thing. It’s a window into the mind of your target audience.
Before search engines, there was no way to know the exact words that a large group of people would use when thinking about a certain topic.
Oh sure, you could ask a small group of people, but anyone who has ever done focus groups will tell you that what people say in front of others is not the same as what they will really do.
So if you’re learning how to write headlines, you should be doing search engine keyword research. Because any great headline should speak in the language of the audience, while wrapped up in a time-tested structure that catches attention and offers value.
But it gets better
Any SEO pro worth listening to will tell you that you don’t go after the most popular keywords. You target the niche phrases. They may result in less traffic individually, but there’s a lot more of them, and less competition.
This is perfect for writing headlines for humans. The niche phrases are much more specific, and specificity makes for a much better headline. Further, better headlines lead to writing better content.
Google and other search engines really do want to reflect what’s important to people. That’s why links and anchor text are primary determinations of relevancy.
Keywords matter for sensible SEO, because when you speak the language of the audience, you attract more readers, more links, and yes … more relevant search traffic. Both camps are right, for different reasons.
Why some people almost always write great headlines
What are some of the characteristics of people who crank out content titles that work really well most of the time? Is it something anyone can learn?
Yes, and except in very rare cases, writing great blog post titles and other headlines can likely only be learned.
Rather than relying on natural talent, people who know how to write headlines have learned to do three basic things:
1. They understand that all compelling headlines make an intriguing promise that makes it almost irresistible to its target audience. Understanding the intended audience is key — a really great headline generally won’t appeal to everyone, and watering it down for mass appeal will only hurt you.
2. They study headlines that have been proven to work, and that usually means direct response advertising headlines. In that context, “proven to work” means people responded to that particular headline by pulling out their wallets and making a purchase. You can also learn to write better headlines by studying some of the top magazine editors, and even the tabloids you see at the supermarket checkout lane.
3. Most importantly, rather than simply mimicking great headlines, professional writers understand why the headline works. Therefore they can make an educated decision as to which type of headline structure is most appropriate, and how to tweak it within a certain context.
So, what about this subheading of the post you’re reading right now?
1. Starting any heading with “why” at the beginning of a declarative statement (instead of a question) is one easy way to focus in on the benefit of reading your article. That’s one of the reasons why this method works, but the words that follow the “why” are what’s most important.
You can do the same by starting with “here’s why,” “what,” “when,” or “how.” Or you can simply make a strong statement that clearly demonstrates that the elaborated answer will be provided in the body content. And of course a carefully worded question can magnetically draw in your intended readers as well.
2. This subheading is modeled after this famous advertising headline:
Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market
Within the context of what I wanted to convey with this section, the basic structure of this classic headline works perfectly. Why?
3. Credibility. The use of the word “some,” and having “almost” modify “always,” make the headline much more plausible. Not even the highest paid copywriters in the world always nail a headline that works. And some people never write great post titles, because they don’t take the time to learn how.
Many people feel that a great headline is bombastic and full of hyperbole, but that’s usually not the case. If people don’t believe you can deliver on your promise, they won’t bother reading further, and your over-the-top headline fails.
You’ll gain an advantage over your competition by becoming a true student of great headline writing.
Understanding what type of headline is appropriate to a specific context is the real key to learning how to write headlines and subheadings that get your content embraced and shared.
Reader Comments (278)
Michael Martine says
There’s an SEO/AdSense component to this, too, because your post title becomes the single page title, and titles are of the utmost importance in search. They’re important for AdSense, too, but AdSense also pays attention to your meta tags.
Jeff Goins says
Interesting, Michael. I never thought of that aspect to this, but it makes perfect sense.
Esoos Bobnar says
Great advice; you can never underestimate the importance of a good headline.
It’s unfortunate that headlines that work best for direct marketing or link baiting often are not the ones that work best for search engines. With search, you generally want to target a keyphrase, then have it appear early in your headline, phrased exactly as you would expect someone to search for it. Tends not to create the catchiest headlines.
Just another case of SEO running headlong into good copy. It can be a bit of a balancing act to get them to work together, but (especially when blogging) it’s generally best to go with the title that will bring you the most readers and links, and perhaps sacrifice that keyword-optimized title.
Yayson Potter | Build Internet Business says
This is completely true. It’s odd that Google is trying to determine good content with a headline and then look for a keyword or phrase when this can be very difficult to get in a title that would actually attract a reader. But I guess as time goes on Google’s search engine will get better and the two will mesh more.
The funny thing is, I get lots of search traffic to this very post, because people search for “how to write headlines,” and a nice bunch of links have me high in Google for that phrase.
Often things just work out if you write for people first.
John Dilbeck says
I’m enjoying this Copywriting 101 series.
The advice you’re giving about headlines reminds me of what I read years ago. Unfortunately, much of it has leached out of my tired old brain in the meantime.
I look forward to following this series and learning some new skills.
All the best,
[…] How To Write Headlines That Work […]
This is awesome stuff. I forget how I found your site, but I’m sure glad I did.
I never knew that headlines meant so much. Definitely a great resource for a newbie blogger like me. 🙂
Congrats and keep up the good work!!
This is really good stuff, thanks!
I believe I found another catchy category of headline:
The offensive or strange statement.
I remember how I jumped at the headline:
“HTML Considered Harmful”. I was really curious and a bit offended by this statement, and immediately read the article.
The original seems to be a statement about programming “Goto Considered Harmful” by Edsger W Dijkstra.
Custom Web Design says
I am searching for 2 hours now and this is the best resource I found about headlines.
Great Website 🙂
I just found your blog, I really like it (and I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed). The reference to Seth Godin (whom I follow almost religiously) was awesome!
Krista Johnson says
I thoroughly enjoyed you installment of 10 blogs for Copywriting 101. You provide a lot of great content as well as another opinion for my readers to gain knowledge from. Thanks again!!
The Opinionated Blogger says
Great post. I have really had a hard time drawing in readers and I am going to try titling my posts more adequately to grab some fresh readers.
Really nice and very useful I will be back.
I keep meaning to get that book… =)
John Carlton says something like, “The best headlines are the ones where the skinny guy wins a fight over the big guy, the one legged golfer can drive a ball further than a two-legged golfer, the dork gets the girl.” I found that to be insightful…
I also liked your last post about speaking simply and clearly. I think it’s something we need to do more often. Eugene Schwartz calls it “Speaking to the chimpanzee brain.”
Minh Hieu says
Great site! It’s much helpful to me. Thanks!
Affiliate Marketing Guide says
Thanks for the excellent post!
I have always been a fan of the How To & 7 Reasons Why headlines. Those are my personal favorites.
Internet Marketer says
What a great post! Headlines are the key to everything pretty much, getting and grabbing the readers attention. Headlines are very important as well when coming down to Google Adwords and creating the customers interest to click and read more.
Definitely a great blog on copywriting. Will definitely stop by again and let people know where to get some great advice on it and how to write effective headlines.
Excellent points from Bob Bly about the 8 categories of headlines. The Copywriter’s Handbook is one of those classics I consult all the time.
I agree totally with your point about the importance of headlines. Victor Schwab put it like this in “How to Write a Good Advertisement” (published in 1962):
“The headline of an advertisement is like a flag being held up by a flagman alongside a railroad track. He is using it to try to get the immediate attention of the engineer of an approaching train–so that he can give him some kind of message. In the case of advertising, on that flag is printed the headline of an advertisement.”
The headline is like the gate keeper
I just wanted to say thanks for all of your excellent advice. I actually took the advice in this post and used it for a few projects. I can say my titles received a huge amount of traffic in internet forums. HUGE – which in return I got more sales.
I am by far no expert but there are many lessons to learn here.
A catchy heading will always win ! great article with some excellent tips thankyou.
la lng says
how should that help me win a headline making contest?…… -_-
Sandy Rivers says
Hot tips! Being creative can be easy as using a Thesaurus.
You forgot teaser headlines!
That’s what I was looking for.
These tips are absolutely timeless. The guy I bought the book from bought it a long time ago. I think it’s absolutely amazing how helpful it was when I read it and I think that you hit the nail on the head with this post.
Headlines hurt my head, but you make it seem so much easier. I’m definately going to put these tips to work. Thanks.
Going through the headlines is always increase traffic but in my view its good to updating the contents and post in regural interval, thanks any way for the info
S.K Sharma says
Headlines can catch the reader into its well(Content)
Daniel Johnston says
Definitely the headline is one of, if not the most, important aspect of your blog posts. I’ve written about that, but I’ll just say it again here that the title is key, because that’s what people see first.
With all the blogs out there now, if you have headlines that don’t interest people or catch their attention, chances are good that you’re not going to do very well.
Your tips definitely help a lot, it all depends on your content and your personality which title you choose. Thanks!
I read your blogs on a daily basis and it helps with all the ads I write thanks! Keep up the good work.
Cindy Kim says
This type of information is invaluable as more marketers understand the new role of content. I recently wrote my blog on How Bad Headlines Can Kill Good Content and found a great deal of inspiration from your blog. I think headline is equally important as the content that you’re trying to market to your audience. Without a great headline to capture the audience, there is a great chance that readers can bypass reading the entire material. This is true for blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, newsletters, podcasts, webcasts, etc. Marketers are in the business of publishing content and without the support of a good headline, you can kiss that content goodbye.
Bani Online says
Another effective technique is called the Reason Why Headline. Your body text consists of a numbered list of product features or tips, which you then incorporate into the headline, such as Two Hundred Reasons Why Open Source Software Beats Microsoft. It’s not even necessary to include the words “reasons why.” This technique is actually the underlying strategy behind the ubiquitous blogger “list” posts. I like this!
Mark A. Griffin says
All great ideas. I am bookmarking this page, surely I will get writers block. I like using the “Reason Why Headline”, it draws the reader in nicely by giving them a reason to read the list, and I also like the “Question Headline” example: Do You Close the Bathroom Door Even When You’re the Only One Home? That catches people as well. I think the hardest aspect for me is to shift from corporate writing style to blog writing style, although I realize writing in blog style actually is more natural than the way we are trained to write in the corporate world as presented by our universities.
you have taught me a great deal about copywriting, i have tried several headlines for my gym marketing. the best one i have found yet is one that tells everything we are and makes them curious enough to go to my website or come into the gym, it is “24 hour fully automated gym with FREE 24 hour automated Tanning included with every membership at Temple Gym”,
I also have great success with funny headlines for my gym, like “do you look like you shoved 20 lbs. apples into a 3lb. bag?” or “when you get onto the weight scale, does it say please one at a time?”
My wife says i may offend someone, but no one has come forward yet, EXCEPT to sign up!
I even started teaching my own gym marketing copywriting how to at my website at fitnessmarketing.tv thanks to you getting me interested in copywriting. thanks.
Link Building says
I really like the Reason Why Headline. It’s always made sense to me to start any pitch, email or blog posts(if applicable) like that. Somehow, it’s easier to just write down the features and justifications than it is to do a classic sales pitch.
Flipping Websites says
Great tips on writing a headline. I’m trying to come up with a few headlines for a banner on my site to recruit guest post bloggers so I found this site searching for headline ideas.
All of these headlines sound great so how does a guy know which one to use??? I wish there was a resource that explained when and why you would use a certain type of headline.
Northwest Indiana Website Design says
I think its a great part of your series. Coming up with headlines can always be a challenge, and breaking it down like you did is incredibly helpful. Thanks!
Matthew Loop says
Good post, Brian… You could have the best email content in the world, but if no one opens the email, it doesn’t matter. Same holds true for a blog post people find on Google search.
Using these headline insights is guaranteed to give you higher open rates 😉
Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg says
Really enjoyed this article… although I’d advise people shy away from question style headlines, because if the answer might be “no” to the question in the headline, you would be elimination a substantial portion of the prospects visiting your sales page.
When the question-headline is “Would an additional $347,822 in passive income make a difference in your life?” then at least it’s a fair assumption that most people, no matter how wealthy, would answer yes. but in many cases question headlines are killers…..
Indianapolis SEO says
Thanks for the excellent post!
I have always been a fan of the How To & 7 Reasons Why headlines. Those are my personal favorites.
Timber Shelton says
Thanks so much for the great tips! Still, if I see one more “Want to Get Rich Quick?” headline, I will barf.
If there is one blog I love reading every day, it’s this one.
Thanks a million for your inspiring articles.
This article is great resource for a newbie blogger like me.
Your blog is my inspiration.
Thanks for all of the positive advise you provide to me and other Bloggers, it really pays to listen and learn!
Gerald from Gold-Goldbarren.com says
Actually i use usually the direct headline and the “how to” headline. You post makes me think also about using the other techniques more often. I think it always depends on the topic of blog or website you have what headlines i use.
I’m so happy I found copy blogger. I first found about CB from Pat Flynn on his smart passive income site. I started listening to the podcasts because my day was so hectic I didn’t always have time to read the posts. It’s addictive because every time I listened or read an article I found new things to help me write. Thanks!
As a journalist I’ve always found writing feature article headlines fairly easy but for some reason scoring the “right” headline that grabs the targeted audience while copywriting has presented a challenge. Many thanks for your insight. Very helpful. I’ll be checking out David Ogilvy’s book too.
Brian M Connole says
I have built a fairly successful blog by following the techniques laid out here on this site. In fact, 80% of my income comes from my blog. The best part about it all … it doesn’t cost a thing. The information you’ll find on this site is just as good, if not better, than anything you’ll find in a those make money online ebooks.
Thanks Copyblogger –
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Abdul Cholik says
I agree with you that the headline is very important to attract visitor to read the article. There are many tips to write a good headline.e.g headline should be consist of keyword and also begin with that keyword. Is that right ?
I totally laughed when i read the bit about angelina jolie 😉
Martin Malden says
I just finished the Magnetic Headlines webinar with Jeff Sexton (I just bought Premise 2.0) and have a question:
Is there a problem if you make your META title different from your actual post title?
Using those fascination and relevance triggers won’t always work well as META titles, so I’m thinking about making my META titles SEO friendly and my post titles human friendly – would that cause any problems?
Sonia Simone says
Martin, that’s what we do. Just remember that the title information is also visible to users, so don’t make it incomprehensible for human readers. But as a rule of thumb, the title tag is for the search engine bots and the headline is for humans.
Martin Malden says
That’s great, Sonia, Many thanks!
Mark Simchock says
Actually, Sonia that’s not quite 100% accurate.
If the concern is SEO then there should be relevance and consistency between article title (most likely wrapped in tags), meta title, URL, image file names for the article, and then keywords in the article.
Can display title / headline and meta title not match? Yes, that’s doable. However, they should still be close, at least in terms of keywords. Also keep in mind that (for example) WordPress will take the display title / headline and automatically create the post’s URL “slug”. You can change the slug, provided you don’t forget.
Mark Simchock says
I think it’s worth mentioning that no matter what you write, the content should live up to the promise (read: expectation created) of the headline. You’re only doing your readers and your brand a disservice if the info-consumer finishs your article and believes they didn’t get what they expected.
For example, “How to Write Headlines That Work.” With all due respect, this article/post isn’t as much about how but about what. Perhaps it’s just me but there’s more words devoted to defining the various types of headlines than there are devoted to the promise. That is, how to.
Sonia Simone says
We 100% agree with your first paragraph.
We’ve tried hard to keep this resource incredibly useful and to, in fact, keep the promise of our own headline. Sorry this one didn’t work for you.
Mark Simchock says
Thanks Sonia. Understood.
None the less, it’s still true that the article is 25% How to and 75% definitions. Regardless of intent and/or wishful thinking the headline of this page stands to be much more accurate.
Copyblogger is such an amazing place for amazing content!!! I forget to go here. Everytime I´m in here I think to myself “this is all you need”………and then I get overwhelmed by other things and forget………
I get stuck in the headlines often. How do I write a good headline that also is SEO optimized? I always feel limited by my wanting to write freely, but need to think strategically as well……….My restraint!
Thanks again for inspiration!
Trung Nguyen says
Thanks for great guide on write headlines that works, it’s really useful for me on blogging journey.
In my opinion, even two word headlines may take attention of readers if they are interested on topic. I always try to use headlines less that 40 characters and so far it works.
Thanks for the detailed guide as content marketing strategies emerge every day, it becomes difficult to focus on what works and what does not for a blog. Thanks a lot!
Christopher Sheridan says
Fantastic article, Brian! This info is going to be super helpful for our marketing newsletter and for our blog. Thank you!
Alison Ver Halen says
Thanks for the great tips! I’m always a fan of the “How to” headlines, as well as the “What is/are” headlines. I’ve even been known to combine them.
Wow! Congrats! I like your article. It brings out something extremely valuable. I have learnt a lot from this article. Thank you for being a solution to my problem!
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