How to Create Clickable & Captivating Headlines
Your headline on blog posts, emails or whatever content you are creating is prime real estate in the online world.
Get it right and you’ve hooked your potential clients into reading/listening/engaging with what you’ve created. Get it wrong and your content marketing is ultimately doomed.
Why your headline is so important
We all have limited time and short attention spans so many people won’t go beyond a bad headline. It’s your shop front, your first impression and you only have one chance at a first impression. No pressure then!!!
You need it to be shareable, clickable and help you boost engagement. Ultimately, you’re trying to persuade your audience to part with the most valuable thing they have, time.
In fact CopyBlogger says that “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece”
So rather than your title creation being an afterthought, it should be the first thing you do to ensure your maximum click through rate.
Your content is a slippery slope
The purpose of each word, line, paragraph is to entice your audience to carry on, gently down the slope one step at a time. So each bit has to be just compelling enough to get them reading on to the next part, then the next, until they reach the end and the all important call to action.
The start of that slippery slope is your headline.
You need an attention grabbing headline that pulls them in with the promise of value. You need to get them intrigued, wondering, keen to learn more.
Use my easy blog title generator ideas below to ensure your headlines are captivating.
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Title Generator Idea 1: Powerful & Emotive Language
Using powerful emotional works (such as never, worst, effortless, crucial, fun) will stop your copy from being bland and flat.
It is scientifically proven that we are much more motivated to move away from pain than to move towards pleasure (it’s part of our biological hard-wiring to stay safe from danger). So using negative emotive language to describe your readers problems is much more effective at getting them to open your content.
Title Generator Idea 2: Use Numbers
Numbers are used time and time again in headlines and for good reason. As humans we are biologically programmed to love certainty over uncertainty, and numbers help us to know exactly what we’re getting into.
A study by Conductor found that we love headlines with numbers more than any other type of headline.
They’re an incredibly effective way of telling the audience quickly and easily how much value they will get from your content. They help give structure to your content, making the information more accessible and more easily actionable.
Also in studies odd numbers out performed even ones in terms of Click Through Rates (CTR). It is best to place the number at the start of the headline and always use the digit (9) rather than the word (nine).
However always use them in a natural way, don’t force your content into a certain number of points if it doesn’t work. You also don’t want to overuse them, it detracts from the effectiveness.
Title Generator Idea 3: SEO & Keywords
Even if you’re headline is on point, if no one is interested in what you’re writing about, then you’re unlikely to get them to click and engage. So your content should target a specific keyword which people are actually searching for. This will also help maximise the SEO quality of what you produce and organic search traffic to your blog.
There are loads of tools you can use to help you find your keywords. I love using the Google Keyword Planner. I type in my topic and Google generates Keyword suggestions. I’m looking for words which have at least 1k search volume and low competition (making it easier to rank for).
I also use Neil Patel’s SEO Keyword Tool. I’m looking for a search volume over 1,000 and an easy SEO difficulty rating.
Once I have my keyword, I try to include it 5-7 times in a piece of content over 1000 words.
Title Generator Idea 4: Keep it Simple & Short
Google will only display the first 70 characters in the search results, Twitter has a 140 character limit and long email subjects won’t be shown fully. It is all about keeping it short, simple and to the point.
Can you include a call to action word in your title to make it directive? We like to be told what to do, it cuts back on yet another decision, so using words like click, open, action now, will help.
Also use clear, commonly used, easily understandable words. The average person will make a decision about whether to click through to the content in less than 5 seconds.
Title Generator Idea 5: Give people a reason to click
Use words that’ll trigger the audience to click through by giving them a reason as to why they should.
Trigger words include: what, why, how, when, tricks, ideas, secrets, strategies, a beginners guide to, introduction to.
Title Generator Idea 6: Activate the Curiosity Gap
Use what is known as the ‘curiosity gap’. Nicola Brown highlighted just how powerful curiosity is, in her blog on Skyword. She said “Curiosity is such an ingrained tendency that we’re often unaware of the influence of this powerful force. In a nutshell, curiosity is the desire for information, and this desire is strongest when we experience what is known as the curiosity gap—missing information”
One way to grab your reader’s attention and activate the curiosity gap is by asking a question (if you can make it deliberately odd or provoking then even better).
Questions also play to our human instinct for completion. We always want an A to a Q as we’re not good with ambiguity, so we’ll click through to the content to find the answer.
You can also activate it by making your headline deliberately intriguing (but never misleading, down with clickbait!!). You want to leave the reader wanting to click and learn more to fill the information gap your headline has created. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks situ. You don’t want to give away too much so they don’t need to click through, you don’t want to give too little away otherwise they won’t be interested, it has to be just right.
What should you to do before pressing publish to ensure your headlines convert?
Check if your headline is clear and genuinely reflecting your content. You don’t want to be using clickbait, that’s so early 2000!!. It cheapens your brand and can ruin any potential relationship with the customer. It’s also so frustrating and adds to the noise of an already noisy online world.
Use a blog title analyser tool such as the Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyser. It calculates how enticing your headline is based on whether your words are empathetic, spiritual, intellectual or a combination.
Think about doing an A/B split test on your headlines. If you’re on WordPress you can use a plugin called Title Split Testing (does exactly what it says on the tin!). You create different headlines for the same piece of content and see which has the greater click through rate. You can do the same by using different trackable links in your main social media channels and comparing the CTR. This helps you to better understand your specific audience and which headline rules they respond well to.
Always ask would I click on this? Would this make me want to read on? If not then what do you need to change so you would? What is missing? Also think about would someone be proud to share this and have this appear in their social media? Would it boost their prestige and social capital?
Your Next Steps:
What do you do once you’ve got them past the headline?
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