How to Write an Eye-Catching Headline

Headlines matter. Not only do they provide you with page visits from post previews, they also impact your site’s reputation. If you want to improve your traffic and gain conversions, you need to start by considering how an eye-catching headline can bring your more visitors. 

Readers Skim Headlines

Most websites generate traffic from content-rich sources including, social media, SEO, email marketing, and backlinks. Each of these mediums require a strong statement to compel readers to click. Understanding how each medium drives traffic to your website can help you craft attractive phrases. 

Social Media

When users post links to your website, the title on the page automatically generates. Most of the platforms don’t let you edit it after the fact.

For blog posts and articles, this allows users to preview the title, the feature image, and the first sentence (about 150 characters). Make the most of this preview.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Although some writers focus solely on keyword saturation within the body copy, your position on search engine result pages (SERP) matters little if readers never click on your content. In fact, these teasers can boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) over time.

The more users click through to your website, the higher trust ranking your website will earn. Search engines take many factors into consideration when evaluating website and trust rankings play a role in that decision.

So, you must start your content with a statement that will both attract readers and preview the upcoming content.

Email Marketing

Whether you are sending a one-time email blast, an automation, or a newsletter, links to content can generate interest in your website. However, users only click on an eye-catching headline.

Obviously, you can choose to build your email preview with a different title and featured image. But, this is both confusing and creates extra work. Let the reader know what to expect by adding a preview to your post that reflects the destination page content.

Backlinks

For trust rankings, SEO and traffic, backlinks are a golden source of conversions. Internal backlinks occur when you link to your own pages or posts in your website. External backlinks occur when another website links to your content. In each scenario, the title will give your articles credibility.

First, the person back linking can easily create a preview of your content when they use you as a source. Second, the person considering a backlink to your content will be more likely to find your article if the title is strong.

Top Tips for an Eye-Catching Headline

If you want to write eye-catching headlines, take the following tips into consideration.

Use Action Verbs

Although passive voice can work, action verbs drive a responses. An action verb tells someone what to do or shows what the subject is doing.

If the phrase tells your audience to do something, whether mental or physical, they are more likely to act. Additionally, this helps them visualize their next steps. 

To craft a compelling statement, consider adding an action verb.

Examples

  • succeed
  • accomplish
  • beat
  • exceed
  • amaze
  • astound
  • energize
  • electrify

Each of these words punch through the clutter. It automatically links your unread article with something they should do. This makes the upcoming content tempting. When in doubt, an action verb makes your headline irresistible.

Avoid Extra Adjectives, Adverbs and Filler Words

Adjectives and adverbs boost writing when they are interesting or unique. However, filler words like “very” just make the sentence longer without adding meaning.

In general, readers avoid long phrases and gloss over wordy sections. For example, Buffer talks about how people scan headlines saying, “Readers absorb the first 3 and last 3 words of a headline. Start strong, finish with a flourish.”

Knowing that readers won’t read a long string of words encourages writers to make every character count. If you are going to use descriptive terms, pick words that clarify and define your statement. Then, read it back to make sure each word deserves a spot at the top of your content.

Stick to One Point

This tip starts with the content of your article. When you read your body copy, there should be one main point for the reader to glean. Otherwise your body copy will confuse and frustrate the reader. Similarly, the eye-catching headline must focus on that key point. If not, it will both mislead and confuse your audience. Even if you are crafting clever wordplay, the topic should be clear. Key words, usually the object or subject of the statement, will tip off the reader about the forthcoming content. Then, the conversion rate on your article will reflect an audience attracted to your particular topic. So, stick to one point to make sure the reader knows what to expect in the content.

Start with the Facts

Numbers, statistics and facts always intrigue readers. It turns an idea into something newsworthy and relevant. For example, Kissmetrics reviewed a Bing advertisement that leads with a disturbing statistic about Google tracking Safari users. The ad says, “Google hit with record $22.5 million penalty for improperly tracking Safari users.” 

The number in the middle of that sentence draws your eye because it appears newsworthy. When readers see facts or numbers, they become curious about the story associated with those numbers. Facts compel people to click, which creates more traffic for your website. If you want to grab your reader’s attention, start with just the facts.

Get Personal

Often, writers craft blogs and articles in the second person to create a closeness to the reader. In the same way, you can use this tactic to drive traffic. Pick friendly, personal phrases to draw in your audience. Do not be afraid to use the words “you” and “yours.” This method speaks directly to your reader and creates a connection with them from the first phrase. When a writer uses the word “you,” the reader feels both validated and acknowledged. When you write using personal words, your reader will build a connection with you as the writer.

Ask Strong Questions

Question marks work if the questions make people think. For example, Business Insider collected eye-catching headlines including, “O’Malley, O’Mara…O’Bama?

This makes the reader curious about the content to follow. Similarly, writers can use questions to tease their audience or prompt new thoughts. Then, they will read the following content to find out more. 

Additionally, questions align with long-tailed keywords for SEO. Often, people type in questions during an online search because they seek an answer. SEO specialists refer to this as “solution selling” and it is quickly becoming one of the top tactics for attracting website visitors. If your content contains their question, they are more likely to click on your link and convert. 

Cleverness Must be Clear

Often, attempts to create clever statement create confusion. Audiences appreciate wordplay. However, the concept needs to be relatable and easy to understand. If the statement is abstract, readers may feel alienated and dismiss the article altogether. As an example, NPR reviews of a statement that is both witty and clear. It says “For Sale: One Used Internet Company Called Yahoo.”

The phrase is somewhat snarky yet, cute. Although the sentence is unexpected, any reader can understand it quickly. This signals that the following article will be both readable and humorous.

Use Winning Formulas

With the advent of big data, writers can track the success of headlines. Online readers favor specific types of content, usually preceded by the same formulaic phrases.

For example, lists and “how to” articles dominate on click-throughs and traffic. As readers seek solutions to problems, this content format provides answers. Additionally, popular writers have identified several winning formulas that usually raise your conversion rate. 

  • Who Else Wants…
  • The Secret Of…
  • A Method for…
  • Little Known Ways to…
  • Get rid of (problem) once and for all
  • A Quick Way to solve (problem)
  • What you need to know about…

Statistically, readers favor these formats. So, if you want to write a compelling teaser, craft it around one of the options above. Then, your readers will click on your content to learn more.

Write An Eye-Catching Headline

Writing an eye-catching headline starts with an emphasis on the reader’s desire to skim. If you apply these tips to your articles, your efforts boost your attraction and generate more traffic to your website.

If you liked this article, you’ll enjoy 5 Tips to Get More Out of Your Marketing Team. Inside, I discuss the common reasons why your marketing efforts may be underperforming.

Published by Danielle

I'm a writer and artist in Lynchburg, Virginia.

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