Many factors go into creating a successful blog post, but one of the most important parts is an eye-catching headline. Your article may be full of valuable content, but you have to draw an audience’s attention. A strong headline has the potential to bring in a lot of traffic, while a shoddy headline can make people turn away– and a headline written without SEO in mind may not even appear in search results.
Let’s get into Modthink's seven tips for writing blog headlines that work.
1. Start with a brainstorm
Ever heard the saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? That saying applies to many situations, including blogging.
The most common mistake made during the brainstorming process is getting locked in one idea for your title. It can be helpful to write out a number of different ideas. This process gives you different options to choose from and can help spark creativity and get your ideas flowing.
We generally try to write out at least five different headlines for each blog, but you don't need to limit yourself to that number. Sometimes it is necessary to write out 10+ ideas before finding the one that fits perfectly.
At Modthink, we prefer to brainstorm in front of the whiteboard– but sticky notes, your favorite pen and journal, or even just a blank Word document are great places for the ideas to flow! You can write a list or organize your ideas into a web or chart. Here's an example of a brainstorming web for this blog:
If you’re having trouble brainstorming on your own, consider pulling in a buddy (or giving your mom a call) to run your ideas past a neutral party. If other people say they wouldn’t click on your headline, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
2. Numbers to add up to success
The next easy tip for writing better headlines is to use numbers in your headline. A study from Conductor showed that the brain is more receptive to numbers. It’s easier for people to understand the value they will get from reading your article whenever the headline has a number.
Using a number also makes your blog stand apart in the crowd. It’s important to use the numeral form and not the word form of the number. In this case, “7” instead of “seven.” This makes your title shorter and looks cleaner, especially if your headline uses a title above 10.
Pro tip: When choosing a number, go with an odd number. It has been proven that odd numbers are seen as more authentic.
3. Rank high with keywords
Using keywords in your headlines is a great opportunity to help with your blog’s search engine optimization (or SEO). One way to do this is by using keywords that your audience is already searching for.
Use tools like Buzzsumo or SEMRush to find out what words associated with your blog title are getting the most engagement. If a term has a high search volume and low competition, it’s worth looking into.
You can also Google your blog topic to see what articles pop up first. These articles are your competition. Take a look at what's already out there and evaluate. How long are their titles? What kinds of words do they contain? Do they use any variations on the keyword? Look for opportunities to plug in relevant keywords or use unique wording that other blogs aren’t.
Check out our other blogs on SEO for more tips on optimizing your blog posts for search engines.
4. What’s your style?
Just like everyone has a unique sense of style, headlines have their own style and flair! There are a few different kinds of titles you will come across on the internet. Certain styles fit better with certain articles, but ultimately it is up to you to choose the kind of headline that will fit your blog like a glove.
Some of the most common styles include:
- Neutral (Writing a Blog Headline)
- Question (What is the Best Way to Write a Headline?)
- How To (How to Write Better Blog Headlines)
- Number (7 Ways to Write Better Blog Headlines)
- Addressing The Reader (The 7 Tips You Need to Write Better Headlines)
- Topic First (Blog Headlines: The Best Methods)
- Guide To (The Guide to The Best Blog Headlines)
The most important part of picking a style is to choose the headline that will fit your audience and article the best. For example, if you want your article optimized for voice search, consider going with a “question” headline.
The format of your article also can determine your headline style. A “guide to” blog will usually be longer and more comprehensive than a “how to” blog. A “number” blog will be written in a listicle or steps format. A “topic first” blog may be one of several blogs in a series.
Consider trying out different styles for multiple blogs and seeing which ones draw in the most engagement. You may be surprised with the results!
5. Keep it accurate
There is nothing worse than clicking on a headline and realizing that you have fallen victim to click bait. The internet is full of catchy titles that entice the reader but don’t represent what’s actually inside the article.
Use a headline that gives an accurate portrayal of what a reader will be able to see whenever they click your headline. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use certain wording or phrases to peak interest, but it will negatively impact the trust of your audience if you over-exaggerate or outright lie.
6. Capitalize on headline structure
This may seem like a rather obvious point, but it can have a big effect when it comes down to it. A study by Conductor showed that readers have a very high preference for headlines that are title case over alternative options (such as sentence case.)
An example of a title case headline would be “How to Write Better Blogs” instead of “How to write better blogs”. This helps the title come across as more structured and reliable, and will demonstrate your effort and attention to detail.
If you don’t know how to format a headline, or you just want to double check your work, free online tools like Capitalize My Title (pictured below) can help you with correct capitalization.
7. Not too long, not too short
When going over all your potential options from your brainstorm, eliminate or edit the titles that aren’t the right length. As a general rule, you do not want to exceed 60 characters. Any headline that goes over this character limit can be cut off on Google searches.
If you put the time and effort into crafting the perfect headline, only for it to be cut off, your work may never be seen in full… and your audience may scroll past to click on a shorter, pithier headline. Headlines under 60 characters are also better for SEO.
Like any other art, writing a successful headline requires a bit of science and a bit of magic. These tips are just the beginning of your titling journey. And don’t forget that providing value to your reader is what truly makes or breaks your content. Having a solid headline is just the icing on the cake!