How to Write a Traffic-Stopping, Scroll-Halting Headline

Headline act

It is the smallest part of your article, but arguably the most important – your headline. Deciding on these few words strikes fear in even the most seasoned content creator. There is so much riding on writing a great headline – search rankings, reader engagement, and ultimately, sales. All of these rely on your reader pausing long enough in their feed to register an interest before they even consider reading more.

No pressure, right?

Your headline is effectively the advertisement for your content. It is the eye-catching, attention-grabbing lure that draws in your audience and snags them into reading on. You can have the most compelling article ever penned broadcast proudly on your website, but if the neon light that is your headline does not shine bright enough – neither will your painstakingly put together piece of writing magic.

So, let’s cut to the chase and look at what makes a traffic-stopping headline, and how you can catch your audience’s (and Google’s) attention in one swift moment.

Here is the process I like to take for writing a winning headline:

1. Before you begin ANY writing, know who you are appealing to (your avatar) and the tone that best resonates with them. For example, is your target audience a no-BS small business owner who just wants to get things done? Or are your clients desperately seeking a solution to their problems? Is it a younger crew who responds to street-style language, or the suits who appreciate a more formal tone?

Jot down a few points about your avatar and imagine you are having a conversation with them. What words would you use? Do your keyword research as well and pick out a few words that rank well and match your avatar’s needs. This step is essential not only to writing your headline, but writing your entire article!

2. Now, go ahead and get the body of your blog post written. There is no point coming up with a killer headline, only to find your actual article ends up completely different! (trust me, this happens!)

3. It’s finally headline writing time! Don’t get bogged down with perfection; start with your keywords, and play with a few variations and interesting descriptive words. You will no doubt write a few horrid headlines before landing on something half-decent. Keep it simple and to the point.

Consider using a pre-head or sub-head – this is a few words either above (pre) or below (sub) the main headline to clarify the message or signal attention to a specific audience.

4. Read your headline out loud and recruit the constructive criticism of a passer-by (partner, child, unwitting colleague – whoever!). If your headline doesn’t make sense when you say it, it just doesn’t make sense!

5. If in doubt, test it out. Go ahead a publish that beauty and see what happens. You may even find yourself cringing when it comes time to publicise – in which case, go back and have another go. Or, you may love what you have written, but when it all comes together, it just doesn’t convert. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your headline at any point.

6. Create a few variations to use across different social media platforms. Facebook preferences 40 characters or less, whereas Google shows up to 60 on one line. On Twitter, you can use up to 100 characters, and email is more-or-less infinite.

Headline formulas

There are tried-and-tested formulas that work well for most blog articles – and no doubt you will recognise every single one! Ultimately, each of these headlines aims to solve a problem for the reader, but the approach differs according to the style and target audience. Try these on for size, and mix and match your headline writing efforts across your blogging content to keep things interesting.

1. List – search engines (and humans) love numbers.
10 Ways to Fall In Love With Exercise

2. Are you…
Are You Ready to Make Exercise Your Friend?

3. How to…
How to Fall in Love with Exercise

4. I’ve Discovered….
I’ve Discovered the Secret to Making Exercise Easy

5. Why You Need…
Why You Need to Fall in Love with Exercise

6. Ask a question

Are You and Exercise on Speaking Terms?

7. Give this, get that

Give Yourself 10 Minutes Each Day for a Stronger, Healthier Body

8. State a fact or statistic
9 Out of 10 Adults Don’t Exercise Enough to Reach Their Health Goals

9. Address the reader directly
YOU Can Learn to Love Exercise Once Again

10. Lastly, the hyperbolic headline – think sensationalist media outlets and celebrity gossip. These can be very effective, but use sparingly and only with the right audience!
She opened her inbox to find an email from her trainer, but what she saw will rock you to the core…

If you would like some help with your content or blog writing, drop me a message or email
I offer a range of writing services, including complete content as well as re-writing, editing and proofreading.