How to write effective headlines that grab attention: 25 examples and tips to improve your headlines

Learning how to write an effective, traffic-generating headline is the secret of a successful blog. So here's how to make your article titles catchy.

Believe it or not, learning how to write an effective headline, capable of attracting attention and generating traffic is one of the real secrets to creating a successful blog.


And the reason is as simple as it is important: we live in an era where there is a real media jungle. Every day we are subjected to a bombardment of images, articles, news, emails and advertisements.


In this situation, do you really believe that your readers will read everything that comes before them? Or will they devote their time only to what strikes their attention most?

Obviously the latter.


And that is why it is important to be able to emerge from this media bombardment and capture the attention of our target. And how to do it?


The first step is precisely to create effective headlines in order to attract attention, generate a click and possibly lead to conversions.


So let's see how to write an effective headline and some examples of headlines that you can use for your blog.


Content index


How to write a headline in 2021: 25 super captivating headline tips


  1. Understand who you are writing for

  2. Use persuasive language

  3. Describe the benefits to your readers

  4. Use active phrases

  5. Answer a specific question

  6. Use dates in titles to make them more up-to-date

  7. Don't underestimate the power of numbers

  8. Use the "power words"

  9. Help yourself with the right tools (free)

  10. Explain (or create) a problem and offer a solution

  11. Play with words

  12. Don't disclose everything

  13. Talk to the reader

  14. Use standard formulas for your headlines

  15. Only make promises you can keep

  16. Don't be afraid to present your ideas

  17. Put the reader at the centre of everything


Optimizing the headline for SEO


18. Use the right keywords

19. Understand search intent

20. Optimize the title according to Google's parameters

21. Learn from your competitors


Avoid frequent mistakes


22. Avoid click-baiting like a plague

23. Don't stay vague

24. Take care of your grammar

25. Writing an effective headline pays off all the effort




How to write a headline in 2021: 25 super captivating headline tips


The first thing you need to pay close attention to in writing an effective headline is understanding who we are targeting.


Do you remember what we said about the difficulty of attracting attention? If you manage to hit the mark with a headline that intercepts a need from your audience, then you've hit bingo!


Only by knowing our niche deeply, in fact, can we write headlines capable of attracting attention in order to generate clicks.


Once the user has landed on your article, you need to be able to keep his attention while reading. To do this, I recommend that you read my post on how to write effective articles.

But let's go into detail to understand how to optimize a headline for our readers.


1. Understand who you are writing for


How do you know who we are writing for?

Obviously, we need to do an analysis and try to identify, for example:


  • values

  • opinions

  • interests

  • pains

  • wishes


And it is, above all, by leveraging the last three points, namely interests, pains and desires, that we can generate the greatest number of clicks. If you think about it, all clickbait titles leverage precisely these feelings, particularly fear.


Of course, you should never write clickbait titles, and we'll find out why later. The important thing to know is that leveraging people's primary needs and emotions is the first step in creating headlines that convert.


2. Use persuasive language


Attracting the attention of our audience is not enough: we also need to make sure that people actually click on our link.


And here persuasive copywriting comes in handy, a set of techniques that push the reader to take action, in our case click on the link and read the content.


Mainly there are 3 levers you can use to write effective headlines:


  1. Curiosity. This is the case of the headlines, for example, which reveal something, which tickles people's curiosity. Example: "This is how I managed to save 70% on my households"

  2. Emotion. The emotional headlines speak directly to the deepest part of an individual, for this reason, they are able to attract attention. Example: "Here's how the internet is ruining your life (and how to avoid it)"

  3. Ethics. Everyone has values. Appealing to your readers' values ​​will undoubtedly grab their attention. Example: “5 alternative methods to wash the house in an eco-sustainable and non-polluting way”.

By focusing on these 3 simple elements, you can write headlines capable of going viral. BuzzSumo also analyzed the viral headlines and put down the elements they have in common:



And if you want to learn more about persuasive copywriting, here is a list of my favourite books on the subject:



3. Describe the benefits to your readers


A simple and effective way to get your users to click on your articles is to clearly state what their benefit will be in reading the post.


I use this type of headline very often. Here are some examples from my articles, where underlined you find the benefit, the goal of reading:


4. Use active phrases


Reading is a complex activity. Reading on-screen is even more complex for the brain.


For this reason, you should always write short, clear and easy to understand sentences. Just like I do, see? Subject, verb, object. And this should be all the more true in headlines.


Therefore always prefer the active form rather than the passive one, in order to give more strength to the sentence.


To give you an example:


ACTIVE FORM: The dog ate a bone ✅

PASSIVE FORM: The bone was eaten by the dog ❌


An example of a real headline? Ok!


Here's how I got rid of snails in my garden in just 10 minutes ✅

This is how my garden was disinfected by snails in just 10 minutes ❌



5. Answer a specific question


Your headlines should always be clear, specific, get to the point right away.


What is your article about? Explain it right away and no-frills in the title.


Examples:


✅ Good headline:

  • 10 ways to clean your refrigerator in half the time

  • How to make the skin clearer with a simple natural product

  • Furnishing the house with less than $1,000: here are all the solutions


❌ Headlines too general, unspecific or unclear:


  • How to clean the refrigerator

  • How to clean your face and make it clearer using just one thing

  • Furnish your home according to your budget, whether high or low


6. Use dates in titles to make them more up-to-date


I bet you found yourself in this (frustrating) situation too:


Go to Google, search for example "How to create a blog" and you will see in the first position an article may be written very well but outdated. Maybe you start reading and you realize that tools and techniques that have been out of use for years are suggested.


Tools that no longer exist, old screens that no longer report a current situation, antiquated techniques that have been replaced by more innovative methods.


A widely used technique to make an article current and to show that it has been updated even if it was written a long time ago is to add the date in the headline.


Here are some examples from my articles:



The important thing is that the article is really up to date, otherwise, your readers will feel cheated and never come back to your blog.



7. Don't underestimate the power of numbers


Numbers are a really effective element for writing a headline capable of attracting attention and generating clicks. The reason is very simple:


  1. The numbers give an exact result

  2. They can be analyzed

  3. They are specific

  4. They can be verified


Here are some examples to think about:


  • How to clean the refrigerator

  • 15 ways to clean your fridge in 10 minutes


  • How I made a lot of money

  • Find out how I earned € 5,834.98 in 12 days

Do you understand what I mean when I say that numbers can really be very effective?


Another tip.


Don't be like these pseudo-marketers who write "If you read this post you will increase your conversions/sales / open rate by [RANDOM NUMBER] per cent!"


I swear, when I read these numbers shot at random, I get really upset!


How can you reach exactly the same numbers as them? There is no way you can.


Show REAL numbers, with REAL case studies if you don't want to pass off as a failed marketer. Remember that you can fool someone once or maybe all of them for a while, but you can't fool everyone forever.



8. Use the "power words"


There are mainly two types of words that manage to break through better than others. These words are:

  • superlatives

  • power words.

Superlatives are adjectives that express absolute qualities, for example, "the best", "the greatest", "the most powerful" but also "beautiful", "fantastic", "incredible". You can use them in both a positive and a negative connotation such as "The worst".


Power words, on the other hand, are words that evoke strong emotions, such as curiosity or excitement. They are powerful words, for example:


  • secret

  • seduce

  • easily

  • instantly

  • terrible

  • dark


9. Help yourself with the right tools (free)


There are some tools that allow you to analyze and optimize your headlines.


If you want advice, however, use these tools only as indications. In fact, I am convinced that the real optimization must come from you, from your analysis and from your skills as a copywriter.


Here are the tools I prefer. They are optimized for the English language but are able to offer interesting ideas:


  • Content Idea Generator. Create a title based on the reference keyword

  • Headline Analyzer. Analyze the emotionality of your headline

  • Sharethrough. It analyzes your headline and gives you suggestions for improving it, giving you a result like the one in the image below.




10. Explain (or create) a problem and offer a solution


One of the most effective techniques for writing an effective headline is to present both the problem and the solution in the title itself.


Maybe the problem is real or the reader didn't even know they had it until they read your title. And that is why he will want to read the article.


I'll give you some concrete examples:


I assure you that writing a headline using this very simple but super effective technique will generate a lot of more clicks on your article.



11.Play with words


I have to paint a large part, it takes a large brush
It doesn't take a large brush but a great brush.

In Italy, where I was born and grew up, this TV ad was very popular.


Some time ago I read an interesting conversation on Quora where some users reported the best headlines containing puns.


Take a look to find new ideas for your headlines (and if you haven't done so yet, follow me on Quora!)



12. Don't disclose everything


To increase the interest to read the article, you must also be able to write a headline that hides a bit of mystery. To do this, two main techniques are used:


  • open questions

  • the lever of curiosity, sending the message “I know something you don't know”.

Open questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Here are some examples from my blog:



13. Talk to the reader


Using imperative verbs when addressing your reader is a great way to create the first connection. Very effective words to do this are for example:


  • Find how…

  • You know that…?

  • 10 tips for you to ...

  • Stop…!

  • Start to…!

  • Here's how you can too ...


14. Use standard formulas for your headlines


When I talk about standard formulas, I don't mean that your titles must always be the same.


However, I mean that there are some formulas that can help you generate interesting titles from time to time.


Here are some examples:


  • Like [ARGUMENT] in [NUMBER] simple steps

How to learn English in 5 simple steps

How to become a successful entrepreneur in 7 easy steps

  • Like [TOPIC] in [TIME]

How to unclog a sink in 5 minutes: this is the secret of the professionals

How to earn 5,000 euros in 24 hours

  • [NUMBER] secrets for [RESULT]

7 secrets for always perfect skin

10 secrets for a home that is always clean and tidy

  • [NUMBER] things about [TOPIC] that no one has ever told you

10 things no one ever told you about sex

15 things on social media that no one has ever told you

  • [NUMBER] things to know before [ACTION]

12 things to know before buying a new car

9 things to know before buying a new camera

  • Why not [ACTION]? Here's how [ACTION] in [TIME]

Why can't you find work? Here's how to find a job in 48 hours

Why don't you lose weight? Here's how you can lose 5 pounds in a month (even without a diet).


Obviously, these are just some of the possibilities we can use to write an effective headline but undoubtedly having preset formulas can guide you in writing always original titles.


⚠️ PRO TIP: avoid, avoid and avoid (did I already say "avoid"?) writing "the definitive guide". It's the worst presentation you can make of your blog.


“The definitive guide” was popular 10 years ago, when marketers copied the American trend of “The definitive guide“.


Now everyone is writing a "definitive guide" and this means that no definitive guide is really definitive. So let's definitely close the discussion of the definitive guides!



15. Only make promises you can keep


A very important thing for creating a serious and lasting relationship with your audience is to always make only promises that you can keep. Otherwise, you will inevitably be labelled a bullshitter (excuse my French).


Writing a headline "If you watch these videos you will increase the chance of success by 427%" ...



Tell me how exactly can I track the result? How can I actually analyze that my chances of being successful have increased by 427% after watching your videos?


Avoid, really.


Rather, present a real case. Show me how you managed to increase the open rate of your emails by 300%. Then a title like "Apply these strategies and increase the open rate of your emails by 300%" already makes more sense.


Real numbers. Real cases. Real results. Real promises. I will never get tired of repeating it. We don't need more crap, the web is already full of it.



16. Don't be afraid to present your ideas


A headline that still works great is one that breaks down a common opinion.


People are crazy about controversial theses. So don't be afraid to go against the crowd and express a counter-current idea.


Here is one example from my blog:


To find out the truth (read "the bullshit") about the Return on Investment of guest posting, I have interviewed 20 SEO experts all over the world and analysed 379 guest posts. I really did. It took me 4 months.


Anyways, you want to know what's the bullshit? I am not going to spoil it, read the post :-)


The important thing, however, is that what you write in the article is also in line with a title that goes against common opinion.


I'll explain it.


A common opinion is that in the UK it is difficult to find great, high-quality food. Is that right?


So, you could write a headline like “Eating amazing food in the UK is possible. Here are 15 places where you can enjoy healthy, tasty and well-cooked food”.


However, please respect the promise of the title and explains exactly how to achieve that result that everyone believes is impossible to achieve.


When promoting your post, for example on social media, expect an avalanche of comments (not necessarily positive!) And a strong increase in the visibility of your article.



17. Put the reader at the centre of everything


If you want to trigger the spark and attract the attention of your potential reader, it is important that he is at the centre of the title and not you.


I'll give you an example:


  • Here's how I earned $10,763 with an ebook

  • Here's how I earned $10,763 with an ebook (and how you can do it too).


The first title will generate many clicks because people are perhaps intrigued by how it is possible to achieve this result. But with the second title, you will be able to reach a target not only of curious people but also of people who want to try on their business first hand.



Optimizing the headline for SEO



Now that you understand how to write a headline and optimize it for readers, the game doesn't stop there.


Yes, because Google is also watching our content. And we know that non-positioned content is content that will never be read.


And if our content is not found, we cannot make money with our blog.


Come ottimizzare quindi le nostre headline per Google? Vediamolo insieme.



18. Use the right keywords


A mistake that many bloggers make when writing articles for their blogs is not paying attention to keywords, i.e. keywords, and their position.


To ensure that our article ranks well in the Google SERP, it is very important to do thorough keyword research and make sure that the keyword you have chosen is well positioned both in the title and in the content.


Look at my articles for example. The keywords are always in the headline, as far to the left as possible.


You will then need to use the same keyword in the article itself, avoiding repeating it constantly, otherwise, you will encounter the classic Keyword Stuffing, the SEO practice that consists of stuffing the article with the same keyword.


In addition to making the article really bad to read, it is a penalizing practice on the part of Google. So yes to the keywords in the text but they must be flowing, inserted effectively in context.


And also use please many synonyms: Google can read!


19. Understand search intent


Another way to better position the articles is to not limit yourself to the keyword, which over time have assumed less and less importance for Google, but to focus on what is called "Search Intent".


What is search intent?


Search intent is the actual intention of a Google search by a user. There are mainly 4 research aims:


  • inquire about something

  • view a website

  • request services

  • buy products

Your skill lies in understanding what users are really looking for and meeting those expectations, both with your article and with the headline.


I'll give you an example.


If the search is "Sushi bar New York", the user is probably looking for a Sushi Bar in the area. But if he's looking for “Best Sushi Bar in New York”, he's probably looking for reviews.


Being able to understand this subtle difference and create ad hoc articles and this will help you make a difference with your blog compared to your competitors.



20. Optimize the title according to Google's parameters


If you followed my advice when we talked about how to create a blog, surely you have already installed Rank Math, a plugin that helps you to optimize your articles according to the standards dictated by SEO.


Through this plugin, you can optimize the title, which is not the title you write at the top of the WordPress editor, but the title that Google will insert on its search engine.





With RankMath it is possible to optimize it in a very simple way. Just enter the data in the box under the article.


As you can see in the above example, the meta title of this article is not the same as the H1 title of the article itself:


TITLE: How to start a successful blog in 2021

H1: How to start a blog like a Pro in 7 easy steps


In this case, the optimization does not only concern the keyword but also the length of the title.


  • If the headline is too long, it will be shortened by Google with the classic "...", thus losing interest

  • If the headline is too short, however, it risks not being effective enough.


So what's the perfect blog title length?


According to research, the best performing headlines contain on average around 6-12 words, around 50 - 80 characters.



21. Learn from your competitors


Another way to know how to write a performing headline is to take a peek at what your competitors are doing.


Obviously, it is only for inspiration and not to copy the entire title, which could also lead to a penalty from Google.


To do this, the tool I use most frequently is Semrush. Through its Topic Research tool, it allows you to go and analyze what works best on a given topic with titles, questions and all related topics.


To use it, just go to Semrush, click on Topic Research in the right menu and enter the topic or keyword you want to analyze.


Then select the state (for example UK) and possibly also the region and the city if you want to create local content.


Now click on “Get content ideas” and… experience the magic! 😀



Avoid frequent mistakes


Now that we have seen how a headline should be optimized, let's complete the topic by going to find out what it should NOT be like, and what are the mistakes that are most frequently made.


22. Avoid click-baiting like a plague


First of all, avoid click-baiting. Really.


An article with a clickbait title can also generate many clicks but once the user realizes that the content does not keep the promises of the title and is disappointed, they will leave your site and never set foot on it.


And if you build a serious and lasting relationship with your users, hoping they will buy your products and services, this is certainly not the best way to do it.


23. Don't stay vague


Writing a deliberately vague headline does not encourage you to click to find the solution within the post but is just frustrating. Especially if that answer is not even there in the article.


If you want to create a blog and be able to make money with it, it is important to build a relationship of trust with your followers. And this is done precisely with clarity.



24. Take care of your grammar


I'll be mundane, I'll be repetitive, but if you want to really stand out for your content, then you definitely need to be careful with grammar.


Personally, when I come up with a headline full of grammatical errors, I subconsciously feel that I can't trust that person. If he can't even write correctly, can he really teach me how to build an online business?


Checking your grammar is more than just literary purism. It is showing that you pay attention to detail, that you are not writing just to write but to benefit the community and knowledge.



25. Writing an effective headline pays off all the effort


If you thought writing an effective headline was child's play… well, maybe now you have to change your mind! 😀


But I am very sure that now you will be able to write incredible titles, capable of generating interest and clicks.


In fact, writing a title for a blog that can convert properly is quite simple if you know your audience well. Then just optimize for Google and that's it!

© 2020 by Luca Tagliaferro. All rights reserved.