How to Write a Headline That’s Catchy

Posted on December 2nd, 2016

how to write a headline

Did you know that people are five times more likely to read a headline than to read the article? Headlines make or break your click-through rate. According to web guru Neil Patel, writers should spend half the time they spend writing the content on writing the headline alone. That means if it takes two hours to write the content, it should take an hour to write the headline. And according to advertising wizard David Ogilvy, headlines are worth 90% of the money invested in advertising.

No doubt about it, headlines are critical to click-throughs and conversions. A good headline equals money in the bank for your business. So, how can you start writing ones that stick?

Here are some headline types and tips:

Be Original

Being original means not being commercial. It means discarding clichéd slogans in search for something new. Copying someone else’s unique idea isn’t the same as coming up with your own. There’s no formula for creativity, but if you think about the stats on how important headlines are, it’s worth the time it takes to come up with something good.

Be Daring

Taking risks can feel scary but the rewards can be worth the leap. Whether you’re being risqué, or politically polemical or daring to call into question something that’s universally accepted, the point is you’ll catch the reader’s attention. Here’s a daring headline I found today: “The No-BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Vote Recount”

Be Mysterious

A headline that makes a reader puzzled or intrigued can be a great way to get their interest. Enough to click perhaps. A headline I saw today: “Uber, But for Millennials Who Want Orchestras in Their Living Rooms”. It definitely makes you go “Wait, what?” Another one I saw that left me hanging: “This New Hipster Parenting Trend is Really Something”. Even if you’re not a hipster or a parent, it makes you curious. The title tells you what it’s about without giving away the prize. For that, you need to click.

Be Funny

This may be the most difficult and elusive type of headline to write, but if you can make someone laugh, your headline is worth its word count in gold. I honestly couldn’t find one besides a couple of headlines on recent politics that made me titter but not laugh out loud. Like I said, these babies are hard to come by.

Be Informative

This article obviously has something to teach the reader: “To so Many Africans, Fidel Castro is a Hero. Here’s Why”. Depending on the nature of your blog, newspaper, magazine or website, articles that appeal to readers seeking credible information can benefit from informative headlines.

Offer Benefits

“So. Yeah! Just a Few Clicks Can Change the Way Your Mac Works” and “This Trick Will Free You From the Frustrations of Rolling Out Cookie Dough” are headlines that let the reader know you’re going to help them solve their problems.

Use Numbers

Lists and numbers had their heyday a couple years back, but are still quite popular: “The 5 Things Bartenders Actually Do Hate” and “Five Rules to Finally Tame Your Inbox.” Yep, still works.

Use Statistics

Statistics give your headline credibility and also drive home the point of why your subject is important. Like this headline “Deforestation of The Amazon Up 29 Percent From Last Year, Study Finds”. Statistics also have a way of creating a sense of urgency with numbers instead of words.

Use Negatives

You know these. The “Stop Throwing Your Money Away”, “Stop Being Stressed” headline type. They actually work. People don’t want to throw their money away or be stressed and they want to find out how to stop. That’s what makes these headlines clickable. Here’s a great one I came across: “If You Don’t Stop Doing These, You’ll Waste the Rest of Your Life”. This could have been titled something like “30 Ways to Change Your Life for the Better”. But it wouldn’t get as many clicks. Appealing to the negative also appeals to people’s fears and insecurities which is powerful stuff.

Use these tips to help you write headlines that convert.