Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
There are two things you bloggers should know: One, great bloggers write great headlines, and two, great headlines often follow sets of similar formulas.
Great headlines follow sets of rules – they are compelling, specific, intriguing, and often follow sets of proven formula.
Yes, just like maths, there are formulas that can help us to write headlines that work. It’s no coincidence that three out of four Neil’s case studies headlines on QuickSprout started with the phrase “How I…”. Headlines written based on certain sets recipes simply get more clicks and reads online. And these types of headlines will always work, because good headlines tap into psychological triggers that are programmed into the human mind.
In other words, the easiest way to write powerful headlines is to follow these recipes. As a smart blogger, you should keep a set of headline formulas, templates, or cheat sheet for your writing references. And, that’s what I’m going to offer in this article – we are going to look into five most frequent-use headline formulas and some real life examples.
Brian Clark of CopyBlogger once said this about list-headline:
Any headline that lists a number of reasons, secrets, types, or ways will work because, once again, it makes a very specific promise of what’s in store for the reader. A nice quantifiable return on attention invested goes a long way toward prompting action, and as long as you deliver with quality content, you’ll have a satisfied reader.
Truth is, you can never go wrong with headlines consist of a list.
Here are a couple of recent list-headlines written by Darren Rowse. Note that how these titles state clearly the reason why you should read the articles; and without doubt, they attract me to click in and read it.
1. 9 Steps To Creating A Successful e-Course
2. 9 Benefits (and 3 Costs) Of Building Community On Your Blog
3. 7 Strategies For Growing Community On Your Blog
In case you need more samples, here are couples similar headlines extracted from other popular blogs.
4. 5 Tips to make Facebook Marketing Mobile Friendly
5. 4 ways to maximize the social media presence at your next event
6. 10 sure-fire headline formulas that work
7. 7 more sure-fire headline templates that work
8. 101 sure-fire ways to make people hate your marketing
I believe you see this type headlines everywhere. Why not? How-to headlines work like a charm always. If you are a frequent reader on QuickSprout, you should know Neil Patel loves using this headline method to hook his readers. For instances:
9. How To Use Rejection To Achieve Your Business Goals
10. How To Make Your Site Insanely Fast
11. How To Think Like Google
There are plenty of variations you can use on how-to headlines. Here’s a few that pop up in my mind while writing this article. With a little brainstorming session, I am sure you can come up with a lot more than these.
12. How to lose fats without exercising
13. How to make money without sacrificing your TV time
14. How to jump higher and play basketball like Michael Jordan
15. How to build a twitter account with tons of followers and make $10,000/mo
16. How to make use of Pinterest for your social media success
17. How to make use of your house sofa for your six pack abs
Headlines that call names or focus on certain group of views are often very effective in building rapport with the target audience and hence creating awareness.
The image on your right (extracted from Huffington Post) is a very good example: This article has information about Swine Flu for travelers. Not parents, not teachers, not doctors; but only for folks who are on the road or will be travelling soon.
Here are some real life examples displayed by bloggers at Copy Blogger, Boost Blog Traffic, and Out Spoken Media.
18. Bloggers beware: Avoid these pitfalls when you start a blog
19. What you need to know as a web hosting shoppers
20. Everything a marketer needs to know can be learned from journalism
21. The woman’s guide to having it all
22. An open letter to all the bloggers cluttering the web with forgettable content
By clipping the phrase ‘Case Study’ (or other similar words) into your headlines, you inform your readers that your articles are thoroughly researched and consist of valuable information. Beth Hayden has some perfect examples for this type of headlines on CopyBlogger.com.
For examples, Hayden wrote these two headlines recently.
22. Case Study: How To Build A Vast Audience by Mastering The Art Of The Interview
23. Case Study: How Aurelien Amacker Escaped The Cubicle
However, do note that this type of headlines might backfire if it’s not handled properly – a case-study-titled article requires lots of in-depth research and detail writings as the readers’ expectation is high. You certainly do not want to write a case study headline for your 500-words-simple-article.
24. Case study: How Jane made $45,000 during dot-com booms
25. Tax report: Why the riches are getting richer
26. Case study: The truth about unlimited web hosting offers
27. Consumer report: Are you spending too much on your SEO campaign
What is your readers’ greatest fear? What’s keeping your readers up at night? Good salesmen leverage human’s fear to sell more; a good writer should do the same his/her headlines. A threat headline gets us to take action because it creates fear. It also implies that something we trust has misled us and may be at risk. If you are serious about writing a blog that sells, you should use more treat headlines.
Here’s what Jon Morrow has to say when it comes to writing good treat headlines.
The key is to be specific. You want the reader to think, “How on earth did they guess that I’m afraid of that? Are they psychic?” Like many headline hacks, your power to use it will grow in proportion to how well you know your audience.
Now, let’s look at some samples, shall we?
28. 15 warning signs that your business sucks
29. SEO scams – 12 warning signs that you hired the wrong SEO
30. Can we really trust bought email lists
31. Suicide, shame, and the painful truth about accomplishing your goals
32. 9 great lies of online sales and marketing
33. The biggest lie in email marketing (why most email is junk mail)
34. The shocking secrets about budget hosting (must read)
35. Alert: The new social media marketing scam to avoid
Okay, so now you have five surefire formulas and 35 headline samples for reference. Ready to write some kick-ass headlines? Here’s what I want you to do, in your next blogpost, use one of the headline formulas stated above and post the link in the comment box below. I might not read everything you write. But if it comes with great headlines, I promise that I will glance thru and add your headlines as samples #36 and so on.
Credits: This article uses multiple references from various A-list blogs, including Copy Blogger, Pro Blogger, Social Media Examiner, Boost Blog Traffic, Out Spoken Media, Quick Sprout, Distilled Blog, and HubSpot Blog. Thanks a lot for all the great work – I wouldn’t have learn so many about persuasive writings without you guys.