Headline Writing Techniques That Just Work

  • 72 comments
  • Content Management, Favorites
  • Read Summary

    Key Points

    • Write headlines that are short, and leave the reader curious as to what it means.
    • Ask an important question in your headline.
    • Promise to teach them something new, or solve a problem.
    • Write a short headline that goes straight to the point.
    • Expose some sort of secret in your headline, or promise to.

    Summary

    The headline of the article you write is one of the most important qualities to look over while writing. I share with you 5 different techniques you can use to come up with your blog headlines.

    Close

by Alex

A good blog headline is often the only factor that determines whether or not an article on your blog will be read. The idea that content is king is true, but some people miss out on reading that great content because there is nothing interesting in the headline that represents it.

Unfortunately, writing a good headline is one of the most challenging aspects of writing blog content. It can literally make or break a post, yet it is something many bloggers fail to pay special attention to.

I have given you plenty of resources to work with in the past to help you write better blog titles, but now I want to give you something more direct to work with. I have taken a particular interest in the finer details of this blog ever since our editor, Seth left. The headlines that represent my content have been things that I have been noticing more, and wanting to improve more than anything else.

In that quest for improvement, I found a few methods that work great just about every time I use them in my blog headlines. Before I came out with any sort of title for my article, I would always consult this list of methods to see which would work out the best for the type of article I am going to write.

Use this guide as a reference for your own headlines, as the ideas listed here are a great way to get you started on producing great blog headlines.

1. Headlines that leave you wanting to know more

I’ll start this list off with a rather risky headline technique; the one that leaves readers “hanging.” What’s better to peak someone’s interest than delivering a short headline that doesn’t reveal too much, but just enough to make someone wonder the actual meaning of?

Now, I say this is risky because of the fact that you aren’t very clear in the headline, and that also may throw off some potential readers. Use this at your own risk, but take a look at some of the examples of this headline technique in use and decide if it’s something you want to try.

These articles all have short headlines that introduce an idea, but will often leave a viewer confused on the meaning until their curiosity gets the best of them and clicks the headline.

2. Ask an important question

Nothing is more engaging than asking a simple question. People like to participate in discussions that ask for their insight as it gives them an opportunity to share their “dominant” view of the topic amongst others.

If by chance you ask a question that other people would like to know the answer to, then you will have people clicking your headline in search of that answer. Whether or not you can follow through and give them the answer they’re looking for is up to you. But at least you have an interesting enough headline to work with.

All of these headlines have a question in them, and all force you to try to answer them prior to clicking on them to see what the “right” answer may be.

3. Promise to teach or solve a problem

Everyone has their share of problems, or lack of knowledge in a certain field. We want to keep learning and solving problems that we will jump into any article that can promise these things in the headline.

While every post you write on your blog teaches, the headline you write doesn’t always come out and say that. With this technique, you are saying in every headline “If you want to _____, I will teach you how in this article.” It’s up to you how you decide to dress that message up to make it sound more appealing.

All of these headlines introduce a problem that may exist for you, and has some sort of hook that will grab your interest into reading the article.

4. Goes straight to the point

A headline that is short, simple and straight to the point can never fail. It directly tells the reader exactly what the article will be about, with no fluff around it. This method can’t cause confusion, and anyone who clicks the headline knows exactly what they want from your article.

These headlines are all short in length, but more than clear in purpose. This tells the reader EXACTLY what they will be reading about.

5. Exposes some sort of secret

Everybody loves secrets. The word alone is enough to interest people in reading your material. Secrets are idea that have not been told to many people, if any at all. The mere idea of someone getting to learn information only a few others know may be just enough to peak their interest into reading what you have to say.

I can even say that sharing some sort of revelation, or breakthrough idea, you had would make for an interesting blog title. Everyone is looking to be a revolutionary and have a more unique blog, that the more breakthrough ideas you can share, the more interesting your posts (and headlines) will become.

All of these headlines imply that there is information within the article they represent that you do not know about yet. These secretive headlines should be as user engaging as possible, by using pronouns such as “me” “I” “they” “we” “us” to make it more personal.

Yay or Nay?

I have shared with you five of the most common formulas I use for creating my blog headlines. Do you think you can use these as well as I can, or do you use other approaches?

I would love to hear if you guys have any common themes you use to come up with your blog headlines. After all, they can never be too good.

Back to the top

by

To learn more about this author and see all of their posts, click below.

View Full Profile →

Discover the Real Meaning...

of what it means to master the psychology of your blogging practice. Find out one of the most missed aspects to blogging now, totally free!

Julius March 1, 2010 at 12:53 am

This list basically covered all the possible techniques to make interesting blog headlines. I think asking important questions has been the most effective one for our blog. I will nonetheless try the other tips. I agree that oftentimes the blog headline either makes or breaks the post.
.-= Julius´s last blog ..A Day Through The Eyes of a Blind Woman: Part 3 =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Thanks for the insight Julius!

I do like the question headline as well, it really sparks some great interest anywhere it goes.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
King Sidharth March 1, 2010 at 2:12 am

This is awesome. I use some of the techniques mentioned above but not all. Thanks for sharing the secret behind the awesome headlines you create. They never cease to grab attention.

I usually borrow catchy headlines from print media and and you know. How do you re-enforce or suggest ‘Call to Action’ in headlines? You know you just want them to do it. Any suggestions?
.-= King Sidharth´s last blog ..Ego v/s Self – War of the Worlds =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 5:58 pm

That’s a great place to go to for inspiration on headlines! Magazine writers are like headline geniuses.

See, you want to be as brief as possible in your headline, but still talk with a lot of spunk. You can go simple and direct, as I suggested in the article and flat out state the EXACT purpose of the article in your headline. I think even asking a question in the headline and then putting a one word answer after it could work too.

I have never really thought about call to action that much in my headlines, but it sounds like something you want to save towards the beginning and end of your actual article.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Tinh March 1, 2010 at 5:02 am

Headline is the most important that convey the whole content and I only continue reading if headline is interesting. That is why skin and scan techniques apply. Thanks
.-= Tinh´s last blog ..[Thesis Tutorials] How To Fix Blogussion Inspired Sidebar Widget Bug =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Like I said – it can make or break an article Tinh! I do the exact same thing, I will skim a blog until I see a headline that I cannot refuse to click.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Shannon O | Confessions of a Loving Wife March 1, 2010 at 6:42 am

Thanks for these great techniques for creating post headlines I will definitely give some of these a try in my upcoming blog posts.
.-= Shannon O | Confessions of a Loving Wife´s last blog ..10 Ways to Wreck Your Marriage =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Glad you enjoyed the article Shannon, thanks for stopping by!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
IndianCashMaker March 1, 2010 at 8:14 am

i personally likes to ask a question or reveal a secret so that readers are curious to know the contents
.-= IndianCashMaker´s last blog ..Is There Anything Like IDEAL POSTING SCHEDULE? =-.

Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
Avil Beckford March 1, 2010 at 8:44 am

Alex,

I love it when I come across a post where I can easily use the information so thank you for that. I have to read some of posts that you linked to because the headlines intrigued me. I have a template of article headline writing templates that I follow. These were developed by some of the copywriting masters. I notice when I follow those rules I get more tweets.

Thank you! Avil Beckford
.-= Avil Beckford´s last blog ..Mentoring: Taking Advantage of the Wisdom and Knowlege Around You =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
King Sidharth March 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hey Avil,
I am glad you are linking it.
Why not share some of your templates with us here on Blogussion? You know we all cold benefit from it.

Cheers!
.-= King Sidharth´s last blog ..Ego v/s Self – War of the Worlds =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Blogger Man March 1, 2010 at 9:15 am

Great tips for writing headlines. I like to create a problem in the headline that the reader may or may not have. The reader is many times compelled to read the article out of pure curiosity, despite not having the problem.
.-= Blogger Man´s last blog ..Taking advantage of creative commons content for your blog =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

The reason why that works is because you connect with the person. They have a problem, and you magically appear with a headline that promises to fix it.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Susan Young March 1, 2010 at 9:24 am

You’ve provided lots of useful information Alex. I’ve been writing broadcast radio news headlines and copy for 25 years. The first few words must be compelling and clear enough for the reader to “want more”—read on. Clearly it’s the same with blogging. Your point on speaking directly to the reader to help them solve a problem or challenge is key. Thanks for sharing.
Susan
.-= Susan Young´s last blog ..Building Rapport in Social Media: Tapping into Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Headlines are headlines, no matter where they are! They’re just as important to a blog as they are to a broadcast radio.

Glad you enjoyed the article Susan. :)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Instant Fundas March 1, 2010 at 10:01 am

List posts like “10 tips to …” works pretty well, but like any others, just don’t overdo it.
.-= Instant Fundas´s last blog ..Change Windows Vista/7 Explorer navigation button color =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I agree, I like to throw those headlines out every once in a while. Too often just gets old…fast.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella March 1, 2010 at 10:42 am

I have always struggled with this. For some reason, sometimes I’m very good at paying attention and writing great headlines. Then I fall off the wagon and my post titles just suck.

I’m going to try out number 2 and 5. I really don’t think I’ve used those to my full advantage. Now I just have to come up with some juicy secrets I can share!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm

It’s not easy at all. Sometimes you just get so into a post, you can dish out amazing headlines on the spot! But there are just times where, for whatever reason, they take time. I try to start every post with a headline written out, but as my post goes along, I find myself changing it. I can just never get that perfect title for my articles!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Christopher March 1, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Awesome tips. You can use these for other sources of writing too.

I tend to like the ask a questions too. It gives just enough to give attention but it doesn’t give away the content. Great post.
.-= Christopher´s last blog ..A Little Story About Procrastination =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Inside the Webb March 1, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I admit that I don’t pay attention to a lot of my titles. It’s a bad habit, but I’ve started to pay a lot of attention recently. This is a great article for offering the advice you have, looking forward to more in the future
.-= Inside the Webb´s last blog ..The Newest Trending Social News Sharing Community Humsurfer =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Headlines are arguably the most important thing to a blog post, next to the actual post itself. Don’t fall back on that statement, DO take care of those headlines!

Let me know if you use any of these techniques on your blog. :)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Frank March 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Heading are like the face of the human if its good, one can say that yes the person will be good, the points you ve shared are very relevant and very perfect, thanks for sharing them with us!
.-= Frank´s last blog ..daekpriser =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Leigh Shulman March 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm

When I first starting blogging, I didn’t pay attention to headline at all. I wrote things as I would have written the title of a short story. It took a while to figure out better ways of doing this.

How great to have a clean and clear list with so many great links to more information. Thanks for the article, Alex!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm

When I first started blogging, I didn’t think too much about the headline. But, I figured it out eventually. Now, I probably over think each headline I write haha.

Glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for stopping by, Leigh. :)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Andi | WebMarketerDepot March 1, 2010 at 8:09 pm

This is one great brain dump, Alex. I think you have covered the all the major great headline creation techniques. I believe I have heard all of them before but somehow, I always stick to only 1 or 2 of the techniques from those 5. So, thanks for reminding me to mix it up a little bit.
.-= Andi | WebMarketerDepot´s last blog ..Is There Money in Making Your Own Web Show? =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Thanks Andi, this has been something I have been wanting to share on this blog for a while now.

A lot of us often stick to just one or two styles, but it is important to mix it up a bit! Best of luck to you. :)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Gautam Hans March 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I Think headlines which have adjectives like kickass or related have a very good response.
Personally I used the headline 8 Traits of a Twitter Champion and the adjective “champion” stole the show. In my opinion, it depends on what adjectives you are using in your headlines and how you are using it.
.-= Gautam Hans´s last blog ..Collecta, Google, and the Future of Real Time Search =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Adjectives are powerful, but I would rather save any swearing for the content. Some people might take offense to swear words in the title, but it depends on your audience.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex Monroe March 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Awesome list Alex. When you talked about Headlines in the beginning you talked about the risk of not exactly specifying what you are going to write about. I see it like this, bet big win big. You gotta take the risk to get the payoff. Nice post man.
.-= Alex Monroe´s last blog ..What can foursquare do for you? =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Thanks for dropping by Alex. :D

It’s a risky type of headline because it really leaves out sometimes important information. But, if you can word it out where it’ll get some people wanting to know the meaning of (and market it right), I think it’s a technique that can go pretty far.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Kok Siong Chen March 2, 2010 at 1:17 am

I always use sometimes to think of the headline of my post. I hope that the headline can really attract people to read on my article. Sometimes, it is difficult to attract people to read something that seems like unrelated to them.
.-= Kok Siong Chen´s last blog ..3 Basic Ways to Relieve Cancer Pain =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Headlines are probably the trickiest part of a post, as I have found out through writing so many!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
sudharsan @ technoskillonline March 2, 2010 at 4:37 am

By giving a controversial title will work fine …. and drive traffic

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Reza Winandar March 2, 2010 at 7:34 am

But don’t too controversial or your blog will be hated by so much readers or perhaps search engine……..
.-= Reza Winandar´s last blog ..This is blog is now Do Follow =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Is being hated always a bad thing?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter March 2, 2010 at 9:17 am

I think I’ve pretty much used everyone of these techniques. Some end up more interesting than others, but you’re right, these definitely do work.
.-= Kiesha @ WeBlogBetter´s last blog ..Blogger must reads – Weekly Link List (20 links) =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Some headlines come out better than others I guess! It’s weird, sometimes I can just look at this list and come up with a headline on the spot. But other times, it takes a lot more thinking. I’ll never understand that I suppose.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Zack March 2, 2010 at 10:25 am

I’ve been doing my headlines Cosmopolitan style lately. Keeps things fun and interesting!
.-= Zack´s last blog ..The Best Way to Meet a Link Partner =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm

That’s really something I didn’t bring up, but works just fine!

Thanks for dropping by Zack. :)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Dekky March 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Alex,
I am so overwhelmed about this. To tell you the truth as an upcoming blogger I find it hard to really find so much people reading the contents of my blog even though I know how interesting they are. After reading this I realized that I was just boring them off with my headlines,I gave this a try and oops 5 comments in few minutes.You are a blogging genius.Thanks!!!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Those are some really great results! Glad you found this resource so useful. :)

Isn’t it incredible how just one simple change of a headline can really bring in some buzz?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Dennis Edell March 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm

#1 isn’t merely risky anymore, it’s really just a bad idea, especially on a business related blog/forum.

Those reading this type are probably busier them most others and you will find more “skimmers” in this category…breezing headline to headline and skipping completely the “teasers”.

The question title is my favorite, followed up by the same thing in the cal to action conclusion and you have massive comment participation.

Start commenting on Commentluv enabled blogs and you will instantly notice yourself paying more and more attention to your titles. ;)
.-= Dennis Edell´s last blog ..DEDC Updates – What the (Near) Future Holds for You and I! =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Finally, some disagreement. :)

I will agree with you, that people who are in a rush may be less likely to want to try and decipher an uninformative title. But, how many people who are busy really go to a blog and just read around? Unless they’re procrastinating or something, I think that if you are going onto a blog to read something – you have time. And with that, you just may have the curiosity to check out that headline with the lack of details, provided it’s ingeniously constructed. ;)

I have also realized that mixing CommentLuv with a great headline can be very beneficial. Thanks for brining that up man. :D

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Latief@AnotherBlogger March 3, 2010 at 2:19 am

Thanks for the tips, I did all your list and that works, my readers love to read my articles :)
.-= Latief@AnotherBlogger´s last blog ..Why We Need To Create Similar Contents? =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Glad to hear that! Keep up the good work. :)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Agent Deepak March 3, 2010 at 3:12 am

Foe me headlines are very important. I always tend to think a lot on it.
.-= Agent Deepak´s last blog ..Interview with James Richmond – The InfoPreneur =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
jan geronimo March 3, 2010 at 7:54 am

One thing more about keeping your headline short: you’ve more chances of being retweeted. A long headline can be a stumbling block in getting your post promoted, making your readers frustrated how to fit it in 140-characters. Some readers are enterprising, of course, but there’s a good chance your headline might be truncated or mangled in the process. And we don’t want any of that, do we.
.-= jan geronimo´s last blog ..Here’s Why I Unfriended Darren Rowse in Facebook =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I have actually never worried too much about social media websites when I write headlines. Yes, they’re a very important source of traffic no doubt, and the easier you can make them to share the better.

But you do bring up a good point, I think I’ll want to write about that the next time I bring up headlines!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Arun Basil Lal March 3, 2010 at 8:31 am

Going straight to the point is one of my favourites, it works for me most of the times :)
.-= Arun Basil Lal´s last blog ..Custom Image and Link for Each Post using WordPress Custom Fields =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Scotty March 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I think the ‘how to solve a problem’ titles work the best. I used to get Frontpage with Digg with those sorts of headlines too.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Those sorts of articles do well on Digg now that I think about it. I have yet to hit frontpage though!

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Gil Pizano March 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Wow! This is good content. It’s always amazing to me how common sense sounding something when you hear it (or readt it) from someone else. Thanks for taking the time to publish these straight forward and, in my humble opinion, important points for creating headlines that will help a reader want more.

Best Regards,

Gil

.-= Gil Pizano´s last blog ..There is No ‘I’ in Team…But There is an ‘M’ and an ‘E’ =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny April 13, 2010 at 12:07 am

Hi Alex,
I love these titles and your approach to coming up with new ones. I’m thinking of how I can spice up my titles for new posts and I’m looking back to see how I could have made my old titles more compelling. Thanks for spicing up my future blog posts :D
.-= Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny´s last blog ..Delicious or Deadly? Give Up Soft Drinks and Stay Young from the Inside Out =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Albert Maruggi April 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

that’s weird there are 63 comments and not a single RT, that’s seems odd I would have never guessed that out of 63 comments there would not be a few RTS. But since Alex is great about responding to commenters I’m going to give this one a big RT

nice post and I’m going to ping it as an update to something I just posted.
.-= Albert Maruggi´s last blog ..3 Reasons Why This Headline Works =-.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
Bamboo Forest - Pun Intended August 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm

This was a really solid article on writing good headlines. And I’ve read many of them. Thanks for writing this.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: