10 Ways to Write Headlines that Grab Attention

10 tips for writing powerful headlines

Powerful headlines grab attention and make readers want to know more. The right headline can help your post get found by search engines. When used as an email subject line, a good headline gets readers to pay attention to and open your email campaign. Those two reasons are why wording matters when you write blog headlines and email subject lines.

Your blog headlines and email subject lines function like the headlines in print ads. Their goal is to grab attention and get the reader to act.

In print or on a blog page, a good headline makes the reader want to scan down the page to learn more. In email, or search engine results, the headline or subject line must work harder. It has to convince the reader to take an action (click to open the email or click on the search result and go to your page) before they can see the post or article.

A good headline can be the difference between someone clicking on your post or ignoring. Writing a good headline (subject line) is how you get people to open your email. The following 10 tips will help you craft eye-catching headlines that drive clicks for your email campaigns and clicks from search to your blog content.

1. Keep your headlines and blog titles short

The headline should be short and to the point. Nobody wants to read a long headline, especially when browsing your newsletter or the web on their mobile devices. People scan through email, web results and social media posts to decide what, if anything, they want to read. Long headlines aren’t very scannable.

You should get your point across with as few characters as possible. The important part of the message should be in the first couple of words to catch a reader’s attention and improve your email open rate. Those words need to let the reader know what the post is about and why it’s important to them.

2. Make your headlines relevant

The headline should be relevant to the content of the blog post. You don’t want to mislead people into clicking on your article, only to find out that it isn’t what they thought. You want your headline to be as closely related to your content as possible.

For instance, if you’re writing about social media marketing, don’t make the headline read, “How to Be More Social,” or “5 Ways to Retain Customers.” Instead, write something like, “How to Get More Social Media Followers,” or “5 Social Media Strategies to Boost Sales.”

If your headlines are misleading, all the clicks you get will be worthless, giving you a high bounce rate.

3. Optimize your blog titles using SEO keywords

Keyword research is crucial to writing a successful blog post. Keywords are words and terms people think about and type into search engines to find products, services or information online. Your email subject lines and blog headlines should include those keywords, so they catch the attention of your subscribers and site visitors. If the terms they’re interested in aren’t in your headline or subject line, they’re not likely to read your email or blog post.

In addition to putting the keywords in your titles, be sure to include related keywords in the subheads and body of your content.

4. Write a “curiosity gap” subject line

A curiosity gap headline or subject line is one that deliberately withholds information. It makes people want to click on your link so that they can find out what the missing information is. This type of headline makes people more likely to read your article.

For example, if you write about managing money, a blog headline (and email subject line) that reads, “Are you making these money mistakes?” will make your readers want to know what the mistakes are and if they’re making them.

Similarly, using a headline to ask a readers if they have a common problem can get attention. For example, if your audience is homeowners, the headline “Got Ants?” will get clicks from people who are worried they might have them or who hope you offer a solution for the problem.

Related: 10 types of emails to send to send your customers

5. Use numbers in your blog titles and email subject lines

People love lists, and they love to read numbers in headlines. A headline with a number and words like “tips” or “ways to” implies that the reader will get a list with an achievable amount of steps that they can follow to do a task.

That’s why working a number into your headline, can help make it capture attention. For example, the post you’re reading is titled, “10 Ways to Write Eye-Catching Headlines and Subject Lines” Not only does a number help explain what readers can expect, but numbers also tend to stand out in a sea of text, thereby helping attract the attention of your audience.

6. Add urgency to your titles

Adding a sense of urgency can help prevent potential readers from skipping over your links. You can do this by using words like “right away,” “now,” or “immediately.” For example:

“How to Start Losing Weight Right Away!”

“Last Day to Save 30% on Designer Jeans”

“Sleep Better Tonight!”

Implying urgency helps get your audience excited so that they don’t want to miss out on what you have to say.

7. Don’t be vague

Make sure that your headline sets clear expectations. Subject lines that get opened are specific. If you’re writing about ways to improve engagement on Twitter, don’t make the headline “How to Improve Engagement.” That’s too vague and could mean anything. You want to be specific with your headlines so that people can quickly know what your blog post is about.

For example, if you’re writing a post on how to improve engagement on Twitter for restaurants, make the headline, “How to Engage Restaurant Customers on Twitter.” You want your readers to know what they’ll be getting when clicking on your blog post.

8. Provide a reason to read your blog content

People don’t just want to know what your blog post content is about; they also want to know why they should click on it. You can do this by adding a reason to click in your headline. For example, “Get the Most Out of Twitter: 20 Tips That You Can’t Miss.” This title provides two reasons to click on the blog — to get the most out of Twitter and to gain access to 20 tips. Many words inherently offer a reason to click on a link. These words include “tips,” “strategies,” “facts,” “secrets,” “tricks,” and even simply “reasons.”

An even better “reason” headline: include a potential benefit in your headline or email subject line. “Look thinner without losing weight” and “Luxury you can afford,” are good examples. Of course, the content show how the reader can get that promised benefit.

9. Make your blog titles personal

People like to hear stories, and they also want to learn from the experiences of others. If you can make your headlines personal by including “you” or “I,” it will make them more likely to click. For example, “You Won’t Believe What I Learned About Twitter.” Such headlines make people feel like they’re a part of the process. However, keep in mind the tone of your blog content. If you’re using a slightly less casual tone in the second person, “I” or “we” may not be appropriate for your titles.

10. Don’t be afraid to create unique headlines

Finally, don’t forget that you can be unique with your headlines. For example, “How to Start Losing Weight Without Working Out.” Such a title is eye-catching and will make people want to read more. In the same vein, you may even want to add a title that’s meant to be humorous or sarcastic if it’s appropriate for your brand and your audience. For example, “5 Ways to Lose an Argument” Such headlines are attention-grabbing, and they can make people chuckle, thereby immediately creating a positive first impression.

When writing blog content, you have to understand that there are probably hundreds of other blog posts that are similar in subject matter. Even if you’re writing about something incredibly niche, you’re going to have competition. As such, you need your content to stand out — and the best way to do that is by creating an eye-catching title. So be sure to keep these 10 tips in mind when writing your blog titles to help attract your target audience’s attention and increase click-throughs to your blog posts.

By Janet Attard

Janet Attard is an author and small business expert who has been using email marketing to grow online sites for more than 30 years.

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