How To Write a Headline: 6 Tips for Writing Headlines That Work

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How do you attract readers to your blog posts and articles? With a strong headline, of course!

Despite being the first part of an article that people see, headlines are often overlooked and written as an afterthought. 

However, the reality is that headlines can determine whether or not someone decides to read your content. Even the most innovative and engaging content can suffer from a poor headline.

With that in mind, we’ve put together six tips on how to write a headline that will capture your reader’s attention. 

Don’t let all of your hard work on creating amazing content go to waste with a bad headline! Implement these tips and you’ll be able to craft engaging headlines that convert.

What Is a Headline?

A headline is the title of your article or blog post. It’s the line of text that appears at the top of the page, separate from the main body of content.

A headline should offer a concise and compelling summary of the content, using words and phrases that convince users to read the article.

Headlines can be used in a variety of places, including in traditional newspapers and magazines, in videos, and on blogs.

Why Does a Headline Matter?

Your headline is what gives your readers their first impression of your content. 

When writing for the web, a good headline encourages people to read your content, drives clicks and traffic to your website, and when optimized with target keywords, can help to improve your posts for search engines.

For many people, the headline is the deciding factor in whether or not they’re going to commit to reading the rest of the content.

What Makes a Good Headline? 6 Tips.

Let’s take a look at these six tips that will help you get to grips with how to write a good headline for an article. 

#1. Be Specific

There’s no point in being vague in your headlines. You should think of your headline as a way to explain your article to a potential reader as quickly and concisely as possible. Being specific is crucial.

When a user reads your headline they’re going to decide there and then if they want to carry on reading your content. You need to make sure that you include enough details for them to make an informed decision. 

A specific headline will ensure that you’re attracting the right audience for your content too. The last thing you want is for users to feel tricked into reading an article that doesn’t relate to the clickbait headline.

Some examples of specific headlines include:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Learning French
  • 1 in 3 Adults Are Joining the Gym, Here’s Why
  • Why LinkedIn Is the Best Social Media Platform for Networking

All three of those headlines are concise and specific. The reader immediately knows what the article is going to be about, and they can make an informed decision about whether to continue reading.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: Adding statistics is also a great way of keeping your headlines specific and on topic. 

#2. Create Intrigue

Adding a little intrigue to your headlines is headline writing 101. You don’t want to give your reader all of the information in the headline. What would be the point in them reading the article then?

Giving away just enough information to target the right readers, while leaving enough information out to keep them intrigued, is a hard balance to strike. 

Huffington Post headline
This Huffington Post headline leaves the reader wanting to find out more.

Creating intrigue doesn’t mean that your reader should have no idea what the article is going to be about. It just means that they don’t know how the article is going to end.

Take a look at the example below. Imagine you’re writing an article about the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. Which of the two headlines creates intrigue and makes you want to read the article?

  1. Yoast SEO: The Best WordPress SEO Plugin
  2. The WordPress SEO Plugin Will Transform Your Website

It’s number two, right? After all, number one has already told you everything you need to know! There’s almost no need to actually read the article.

Headline two however creates a sense of intrigue. Readers will be desperate to know what the plugin is, and they’ll read on to find out. 

#3. Keep It Brief

If your headline is too lengthy then readers are going to skip past it and look for something else.

Brief and concise headlines help to keep a reader’s attention firmly on your content, and allow them to quickly decide on their next action.

When your article appears in search results, or on your website, you only have a couple of seconds to grab the attention of your reader before they’ve moved on. That’s why a brief headline is so important.

Brief headlines also ensure you aren’t giving too much information away. As we’ve already discussed, a little bit of intrigue goes a long way.

Check out the examples below of brief headlines that work:

  • Common Gardening Mistakes to Avoid
  • How to Cure a Common Cold Quickly
  • 5 Tips for Tennis Beginners

#4. Test. Test. Test.

Testing out potential headlines is a great way to understand what works and what doesn’t. 

An A/B test, or split testing, is the ideal way to test your headlines. You take two or more different headlines for the same piece of content and see which performs better.

There are various ways you can conduct split testing, such as:

  • Email marketing – Send out 50% of your emails featuring headline A, and 50% with headline B. You can then assess the open rate and effectiveness of each headline.
  • Social media – You can promote your content multiple times on social media, using a different headline each time. This way you can see which headline gets the most engagement.
  • Plugins – Some plugins for website builders, such as WordPress, will split test your headlines for you (what is a WordPress plugin? Find out here).

For example, if we wanted to conduct split testing for this article, we could compare various headlines:

  1. How to Write a Headline: 6 Tips for Writing Headlines That Work
  2. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Amazing Headlines
  3. 6 Tips for Writing Headlines 
  4. How to Write a Headline That Works

Once you’ve conducted your headline testing, the key stats to pay close attention to include click-through rate, bounce rate, and time spent on the page.

#5. Make a Promise (and Deliver)

Some of the best headlines are the ones that make a promise to readers. 

Headlines such as “How to Make $100 Overnight”, or “The Life Hack That Can Save You Thousands Every Year”. 

A promise of value can make your headline stand out from the crowd, and readers instantly know what value they’ll potentially be getting from your article. 

Headline from College Info Geek
This headline from College Info Geek promises the reader value straight away.

Of course, it’s all very well to make a promise in your headlines, but you need to make sure you’re delivering that value in your content.

Failure to deliver will lead to unhappy readers who won’t trust you, and a lack of trust will be a disaster for your business. 

#6. Use Digits

When learning how to write headlines, here’s a simple tip to remember: use digits. 

Numbers are a great way to get your headline noticed. The digit automatically stands out against the words, which helps to capture the attention of your readers. 

Buzzfeed often uses digits to help its headlines stand out.

Look at these two headline examples: 

  • 10 Back to School Must Haves
  • Ten Back to School Must Haves

The first headline that uses digits catches the eye more than the second option which spells out the number.

Including numbers in your headline, such as “5 Ways to Collect Business Leads” also ensures that your audience knows what to expect from your article. The headline tells them that they will gain five actionable tips. 

How to Write a Headline: Summary

Learning how to write a headline is crucial if you want your content to succeed.

A good headline comes with an array of benefits including attracting readers, driving traffic, and boosting your search rankings. 

To recap, our six top tips for writing headlines that work are:

  • Be specific
  • Create intrigue
  • Keep it brief
  • Test your headlines
  • Make a promise and deliver 
  • Use digits

Now that you’ve got to grips with how to write a headline, why not explore some more of our expert content to help you on the path to blogging success? We recommend this article on what to blog about! 

Frequently Asked Questions

A good headline tells potential readers what your content is about. It helps to attract them to your article in the first place, and convinces them to read on. Headlines can also play a major part in how well your content ranks for your target search terms. 

The best headlines are brief. Aim for no more than 55 characters to ensure your headline grabs the attention of readers and doesn’t lose it. 

Yes, absolutely! Your headlines can have a big impact on your website’s SEO. Make sure you feature your target keyword in your headline, preferably near the start. 

Written by:
Black and white headshot of Lucy Nixon smiling at the camera
I’ve been a content writer for Website Builder Expert since 2021. Through almost a decade in the digital marketing industry, I’ve built up knowledge on everything from growing ecommerce businesses to building websites. I love breaking down tricky topics into digestible and engaging content for readers. Breaking down the jargon and uncovering the best platforms, tools, and strategies, I’m a meticulous researcher who’s committed to providing our readers with tips and advice that’s tried and tested.

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