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Writing great blog headlines which are both SEO relevant and engaging can be difficult, not to mention time consuming, which is why many bloggers may not be giving their headlines the attention they deserve.

However, if you’re willing to spend a little time upfront wrapping your head around how to engage your users by getting better at it, you’ll be surprised by how much of a difference a good headline can make when it comes to user engagement and click-through traffic from Search Engine Results Pages.

So, what’s in the secret sauce when it comes to writing great headlines?

It’s a combination of things.

But most importantly, it involves thinking like a copywriter. This means that you must understand your audience, think like them, and then make a conscious effort to persuade them using every strategy available.

So, here’s my advice covering 7 tips for writing great headlines:

1. Make a Big Promise

Use your blog post heading to make the promise of a huge benefit to your readers, after all, users like to know what is in it for them.

For example, your blog post might show readers how to use a new Internet marketing strategy or technique which is not adequately explained somewhere else.

However, if you do not communicate the benefot of this information to your viewers, they won’t see the benefit upfront and may not be interested in reading your blog, no matter how informative it may be.

An example of making a big promise upfront would be considering the use of a headline similar to the one below:

  • “How to Do Your Keyword Research 3 Times Faster.”

For all readers, the blog subject matter and its benefit to the user is obvious, and if it’s relevant to them, then there’s a greater chance that they’ll click through to read the entry. The upside here is that you’ve also managed to create a more engaging snippet for the Search Engine Results pages, meaning a greater opportunity to engage new users already searching for information on the topic.

2. Arouse Curiosity

Another effective strategy you can use to improve your headlines is to arouse the curiosity of the user. By arousing the curiosity you will entice the reader to click-through to your content from a Search Engine Results page or convince them not to leave the page that they are on without first skimming through your entry to satify their curiousity.

Once again, using our Internet marketing example, we could spice up a headline and arouse users curiousity by using something like this:

  • “Discover the Weirdest Strategy for Conducting Effective Keyword Research”

3. Use Trigger Words

If you’ve ever spent time researching techniques to improve copywriting success, you’ve probably come across the concept of using “trigger words.”  which refers to the use of words and/or phrases which can trigger an emotional response from a user and thus create more engaging copy which resonates with users and convinces them to take desired actions.

The use of trigger words has been proven to be very useful when used effectively and may compel readers to take action and make decisions when an alternate choice of regular words would not.

The following is a list of some “trigger words” that you may want to incorporate into your blog headlines to improve your user engagement and encourage people seeing your headlines to take action:

  • announcing
  • introducing
  • free
  • news
  • explosive
  • new
  • shocking
  • proven

Be aware of the headlines you click on when browsing the Internet and it will quickly become clear to you just how effective and widespread the use of trigger words is.

Using our Internet Marketing example once again, we may choose to revise a vanilla headline to something similar to the one below:

  • “Shocking Truth: Why Your Keyword Research Strategy is Flawed”

4. Be Specific

In order to compel readers to click on your headline, or convince them to read your blog post, helping users to visualize the story suggested by your headline can improve your readership greatly. If your visitors struggle to visualize the story that your headline suggests and identify with it, there’s a strong possibility that they will not read your blog post.

Being more specific when writing blog post headlines is a great way in which to assist potential readers with visualizing your story. As an example, compare the following two headlines:

Example 1:

  • “Make as much as $200 with this keyword research strategy in your first week.”
  • “Make as much as $197.83 with this keyword research strategy in 7 days.”

Example 2:

  • “Lose 20 kilograms in two months.”
  • “Lose 19 kilograms in 60 days.”

In each of the cases above, the second headline does a better job of helping users to visualize the story as it contains more specific details. It alludes to facts, rather than a vague promise by being more specific.

5. Speak Directly to Your Audience

While it is true that the people you target with your blog posts have other interests, it is NOT true that you know what they are. All you know about the people who visit your blog is that they have an interest in your subject matter.

For improved user engagement it is vital to target these interests specifically, rather than targeting a person with generic interests. This is especially true when it comes to writing great headlines which resonate with a specific group of users or user persona.

For example, if you run a weight loss blog, then your headlines probably wouldn’t work equally well on a gardening blog – because the user personas and interests differ greatly.

By ensuring that your blog post headlines address the interests of people wanting to lose weight, rather than general human interests, your blog posts have a better chance of engaging the right audience.

6. Learn from Successful Bloggers

A great way to learn how to write better headlines is to identify those who are great at writing engaging headlines and study their techniques in order to replicate their success.

One simple way to do this is to pay attention to the trending stories on your favourite social media website such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Digg.  If a story makes it there and receives hundreds or thousands of shares/votes, it’s usually an indicator that the headline was successful. It’s then worth spending a few minutes analyzing their techniques and leveraging them to improve your own writing and headlines.

7. Test, Track… Tweak, Repeat!

In addition to employing good headline strategies, you must also test them. Successful writers continually test them and tweak them for maximum traction.

By failing to run proper tests and track results, you will have no idea of whether a particular strategy was successful or not. The simplest way to check your results is to pay attention to your traffic statistics to see whether a certain headline technique increased the clicks to the post and/or the amount of time which the average visitor spent reading your blog post.

Note: It is not enough just to test and track your click rates. Although it may be easy (and tempting) to mislead your visitors and make them click through to a specific blog post; what really matters is how relevant your headline is to the post content.

So, as much as you keep track of your “most popular” blog posts” don;t forget to track the readership level of these popular blog posts by checking out the amount of time users spend on that page. If your readers are leaving the page without reading your content, you may need to make some changes to improve the relevance of blog post and the corresponding headline to rectify the issue.

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, remember to employ best practices by not making changes to your blog post headlines after publishing. Instead, you will want to review the results for many different headlines and blog posts to see if you can determine which techniques are consistently yielding the besrt results.

Conclusion

Writing great blog headlines is an integral part of running a successful blog which engages users, ranks well and also encourages repeat visits.

There are many methods you could employ to write great headlines, I have listed my 7 favourite ones above. In addition to writing great headlines, it is also important that you track your results and test new strategies in order to refine your headline writing techniques for best results.

Additional Reading

What Makes a Good Headline (Infographic)

If you’re a sucker for a well designed infographic likemyself, you’ll probably love the infographic below by Neil Patel from Quick Sprout which illustrates an additional simple formula for producing enticing headlines. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all headline technique that guarantees a flood of traffic, the tactics illustrated  should help you tweak your headlines to get your posts the attention they deserve.

The Formula For a Perfect Headline

Infographic Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Share Your Thoughts

If you have any other techniques or tips for writing great blog headlines which you’d like to share, please do so using the comments, I’d love to hear about what’s working for you.