Content Writing 101: 7 Tips for Crafting Compelling Headlines That Grab Attention

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  • Crafting captivating headlines is a critical skill that all content creators must possess.
  • A weak headline can render all other marketing efforts pointless since the traffic a post receives hinges on the headline’s ability to compel and attract clicks.
  • By experimenting with different tactics and adhering to core principles when writing headlines, the success rates of your content can soar.

If you want your blog posts and articles to do well, learning how to make a headline more compelling is imperative.

make a headline more compelling statistics

Super Copy Editors’ Dave Baker says that around 80% of your audience will only read the headline of your post.

Knowing how to craft the ultimate attention-grabbing headline is a skill that all content creators should have in their arsenal – after all, without a compelling title, people may not even consider reading your blog post or article!

If you’re feeling stuck on sharpening up your headlines and want to wow your audience from start to finish, then I’m here with 7 powerful hacks that will give your content the edge it needs!

With these tips, you can take back control of click-through rates.

Dive in and discover just what it takes to write mesmerizing headlines every time.

Understanding Headlines

To craft impactful headlines, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of what headlines are and what they aim to achieve.

Headlines are short lines of text that summarize the main point of an article or news story and are essentially a “snapshot” of the content that follows, providing readers with an idea of what to expect.

Effective headlines are key to grabbing readers’ attention and encouraging them to read on, which is why they are used to convey exciting news, arouse curiosity, or provoke thought.

Content creators can shape headlines to suit their audience and achieve their desired effect by understanding their purpose.

To engage your readers, you must create well-written and captivating headlines whether you’re writing for a news outlet, blog, or social media platform.

Why Are Headlines Important?

To put it simply, headlines are like the first impression you make on a blind date—you want to come off as interesting, engaging, and worth their time. A good headline can do just that, pulling in readers and making them want to delve deeper into your story.

Headlines are like the first impression you make on a blind date— you want to come off as interesting, engaging, and worth their time. Share on X

Plus, in today’s world of social media and constant distractions, headlines need to stand out in a sea of information overload.

Like trying to spot your friend’s face in a crowded concert, your headline needs to catch their attention and be memorable.

In addition, the amount of traffic your post receives depends on how compelling and attention-grabbing your headline is, so if your headline is not strong enough to attract clicks, all other marketing efforts will be pointless.

Research indicates that a website’s traffic can be affected by headlines by up to 500%.

So, when writing headlines, don’t be afraid to be bold and make them attention-grabbing to attract readers.

What to Do Before You Begin Writing Headlines

When it comes to writing headlines, there’s a lot to consider, but before you dive into the perfect wording and phrasing, it’s essential to take a step back and think about three key things.

First, you must determine your brand’s purpose for the content. Knowing your objectives is crucial for crafting an effective headline, whether you aim to increase brand visibility or improve SEO. This will help you focus on achieving your goals.

Second, you need to determine the audience for your content. Remember the purpose of your brand’s content that you identified in step 1, which may help you identify a more specific and targeted audience than your typical persona or target audience. 

To create a headline that meets your objectives, it’s essential to link your audience with the content’s purpose that your brand serves.

Finally, having an understanding of why your audience would consume your content can help you craft headlines that capture their interest and encourage them to click. 

Understanding how your content will be perceived can reveal its distinctive elements, enabling you to create a headline that will draw in readers.

After finishing the initial three steps on the checklist, you can proceed to learn reliable techniques for crafting impactful headlines.

💡 KEY TAKEAWAY: For headlines, focus on: 1) Your content’s purpose, 2) Your target audience, 3) Why your audience would engage with your content. These insights lead to impactful headline techniques!

Tips on Crafting Powerful Headlines

Include Numbers in Your Headlines

According to marketing expert Debra Jason, numbers are like “brain candy” that our minds just can’t resist.

Numbers add a sense of clarity and specificity to your headlines, which can make them more attractive to readers.

Our brains love a good sense of order and logic, so headlines that use numbers are often more satisfying to read.

Furthermore, using digits can enhance the scanability of your web content since it’s better than using a completely spelled-out word, which would make your headline longer and clunky.

If you want to include numbers in your headline, you must understand the fascinating science behind odd numbers in particular. 

Odd numbers can aid in the retention and recollection of information.

An experiment by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that the brain tends to trust odd numbers more than even numbers. 

When they tested their hypothesis and made a small change to their headline by adding the number 7, the click-through rates went up by 20%.

Here’s another tip: When writing a step-by-step guide, limit the number of steps to nine or fewer. This is because the human brain struggles to process more than nine items at once.

So, the next time you write a headline like “How to Save Money on Utility Bills,” consider using something like “5 Effective Ideas to Reduce Your Utility Costs” instead!

Use Rationales Unique to Your Content

Have you ever come across content on the internet that just didn’t seem worth the read? Maybe it lacked a compelling reason to keep you interested.

That’s why having a strong rationale in your headline is critical to making your content stand out.

It is vital to ensure that your headlines appeal to those who may not read all of the content, as research indicates that approximately 59% of individuals share content without fully reading it.

Ask yourself: “Why should people bother reading what I have to say?” Giving your readers a solid reason to click, read, and share your content will help them perceive it as valuable.

Some examples of commonly used rationales in headlines include:

  • Reasons
  • Tips
  • Ideas
  • Ways
  • Strategies
  • Lessons
  • Facts

If you combine rationales with the first tip I gave you, you can come up with enticing headlines like:

  • 17 Facts About Content Creation You Need to Know
  • 15 Lessons I Learned The Hard Way as a 5-Star Restaurant Chef
  • 5 Crucial Tips on Crafting Effective Landing Pages

See how using numbers and explanations in the headlines added an extra punch? Doing this will likely attract readers to click on your articles.

Ask Questions or Impose Challenges

Curiosity is a powerful emotion that can do wonders for your writing, and one way to amp up the curiosity factor is to add specific questions to your headlines.

Surveys show that headlines that involve asking a question get about 23% more shares by readers, so if you’re not into adding numbers or rationale, you can opt for asking a question!

This strategy helps engage your audience by highlighting the questions they might have.

Plus, question headlines can be a smart way to target certain keywords—think about it: when someone types a question into a search engine, they’re looking for a specific answer, and if your headline can align with their search prompt, you might be able to snag a higher rank on the search engine results page.

For example, if you’re writing an article on the importance of short leashes for pups in training, instead of phrasing your headline as “The Importance of Short Leashes for Dog Training,” pose it as a question like “Why Are Short Leashes Crucial When Training Dogs?”

To add an extra punch to your question headlines, you can combine it with a challenge.

Using a challenging headline can be intriguing to readers as they may experience a feeling of fulfillment once they have engaged with your material.

These types of headlines are commonly used for interactive content, such as articles with quizzes, but they can also be used for other types of content.

Following the example we used earlier, you can write something similar to “Do You Know Which Leash Is the Right One for Dog Training?”

So, the next time you’re crafting a headline, consider adding a probing question, challenge, or maybe even both! It just might be the key to unlocking your readers’ curiosity.

💡 KEY TAKEAWAY: Use questions and challenges in your headlines to spark curiosity. They boost shares and improve keyword targeting for better search engine visibility. Pairing both may enhance effectiveness and give readers a sense of fulfillment.

Be Specific and Accurate

Let’s talk about the importance of being specific and accurate in your headlines.

Making headlines is not just about catching someone’s eye or sounding catchy; including specific facts such as statistics and names can actually build your credibility and show readers that you’ve done your research.

In order to convert prospects into loyal readers and customers, it’s crucial to provide them with an ultra-specific headline and the answers to their questions.

Being more precise will increase your authority in your industry and help you establish stronger connections with customers.

It’s also essential to ensure that your article’s headline accurately and clearly conveys its content.

Media companies often manipulate headlines to create misleading or exaggerated claims, leading to reader dissatisfaction and increased bounce rates.

If the headline of your content doesn’t clearly indicate its topic, it may deter people from clicking on it.

For instance, if you use a vague headline to arouse curiosity among your audience, such as “You Won’t Believe What These Businesses are Doing to Cut Costs!” it doesn’t explicitly reveal the content’s theme.

Instead, you can apply the tips I shared with you so far and craft something like “4 Tips to Save Your Company Money”.

The headline clarifies how the article can help entrepreneurs and the benefits they can gain from it.

Add In Strong Verbs and Adjectives

If your headline is full of weak, flimsy words, it won’t give your content the boost it deserves.

We can’t settle for mediocrity here – you need strong verbs and adjectives that can deliver a knockout punch.

Every word in a headline is significant, as evidenced by an A/B testing case where modifying only one word in an email subject line resulted in a 46% improvement in click-through rates.

If you’re adding adjectives to your headlines, ensure that they aren’t weak and can enhance your output.

Here are some examples of adjectives that are simply unacceptable and words that you can use instead:

  • Very important -> crucial
  • Very necessary -> essential
  • Very interesting -> captivating
  • Very good -> outstanding
  • Very smart -> genius

So if you have a headline like “Very Smart Tips to Make Better Headlines,” you can turn that into “7 Genius Tips to Craft Compelling Headlines.”

It is important to note that verbs are equally significant as adjectives. This is evident from the continued popularity of the “Just Do It” and “Got Milk” taglines, which are both simple and compelling due to their focus on verbs.

Weak verbs are action words that lack detail and do not paint a clear picture of the action they are describing, and when you encounter them, it can be challenging to visualize the intended action.

For example, if you wrote a headline like “7 Tips to be Smarter”, it is difficult to form a clear picture of a smart person as the statement is too broad.

Instead, create something like “7 Techniques to Turn Yourself into a Genius.”

Appeal to Your Audience’s Emotions

Have you ever read a headline that immediately sparked your curiosity or got your heart racing?

Well, chances are that headline used powerful words and emotions to appeal to your emotions.

Powerful words are powerful tools that can evoke feelings of fear, excitement, or even anger from your readers.

But it’s not just about getting attention; it’s also about conveying a strong message and prompting change.

Words have power, and some hold more weight than others, so it’s essential to use them wisely and correctly to increase conversion rates for your emails, blog posts, copy, and adverts.

Here are some powerful words you can use to motivate your readers and inspire them to take action:

  • Conquer
  • Courage
  • Amazing
  • Fearless
  • Fulfill
  • Spectacular
  • Sensational
  • Surprising
  • Stunning

If you have a headline similar to “How to Stop Writer’s Block,” you can apply this tip and transform it into “5 Tips to Successfully Conquer Writer’ Block.”

Make sure the colorful and emotional words you use serve a purpose for the user and sound natural, as this will prevent you from receiving a Google penalty for “keyword-bombing.”

Highlight Your Content’s Benefits

Have you ever come across a blog post with a headline that simply reads “New Study Finds X” or “The Science Behind Y”?

While those types of headlines might work for larger publications, your goal is to hook readers in and keep them engaged.

Before creating your headline, I asked you to determine your audience first because if you want to highlight benefits, this is where it will come into play.

Julia McCoy, VP of Marketing for Content at Scale, suggests a simple method for creating effective headlines: identify the main benefit or key takeaway of the content and summarize it in a single sentence.

By highlighting what your readers will gain from reading your post, whether it’s new knowledge on a particular subject, skills to improve their own lives or businesses, or information that will help them become savvier in their chosen field, you’re showing your audience not only that you understand their needs but also that you’ve taken the time to create content that will actually benefit them.

When readers feel like they’re getting real value out of your content, they’ll keep coming back for more.

Furthermore, readers are more inclined towards articles highlighting the benefits they would receive, as it revolves around their interests, so feel free to continuously emphasize the advantages without hesitation!

Julia McCoy’s article cites an example of a strong headline: “Can’t Get That Click? 5 Simple Strategies for CTAs That Convert”.

Remembering all the tips I shared with you, this headline is effective because it addresses the reader’s problem, highlights the benefits, and uses powerful language.

By following the strategies outlined here, you can write stronger headlines that create a positive initial impression of your writing abilities and can enhance your sales.

💡 KEY TAKEAWAY: Create engaging headlines by highlighting your content’s benefits. Identify key takeaways and summarize them in a single sentence to show your understanding of your audience’s needs. By emphasizing the advantages of your content, you’ll retain readers and bolster your sales.

Start Writing Captivating Headlines Today

If there’s one thing content writing has proven, it’s that you need an exciting headline to grab the audience’s attention.

It can take a bit of experimenting with different tactics, but having a few core principles to adhere to can make the success rates skyrocket.

Remember to consider numbers, rationale, questions or challenges, accurate and specific language, adjectives and verbs, emotional appeal, and benefit focus when crafting your headlines.

Above all else, though, be creative and experiment–you’ll never know what might work until you try! 

For those needing a bit of guidance along the way or looking for further advice on how to write powerful headlines that attract your target audience, don’t worry–we’re here to help. Reach out to our team at Content Hacker for more information about writing compelling headlines.

Slye Joy Serrano

December 1, 2023

Slye Joy Serrano

Meet Slye, a passionate individual whose enthusiasm for inbound marketing is matched only by his love for learning. With advanced degrees in Political Science and International Relations, Slye uses his knowledge to empower brands through his work at Content Hacker. When he's not helping businesses flourish online, you can often find him lost in a Beatles song or spending time with his eight furry friends. Whether it's mastering the art of content marketing and SEO or strumming a guitar, Slye enjoys the simple yet profound moments in life.

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