How to Write SEO Friendly Headlines That Will Get Clicks

The simple blog headline haunts all people who write online. You’ll hear how much time you should spend on a headline, but doesn’t it seem like a little overkill after writing an article that took a couple hours of your time?

After all, the content is the part that should matter, not a silly headline, right? Well, this is indeed true, but the explosion in content means your are competing for readers’ attention. A day on the internet consists of 2.73 million blog posts, 144.8 billion emails, and 500 million Tweets daily.

More reasons why headlines are important

Learn a Headline Writing Formula

The unfortunate nature of the internet is that you need to grab attention. The good news is that you don’t need to spend another 30 minutes devising your headline if you have a formula in your back pocket. Let’s check out some simple tricks I use to write catchy blog headlines.

1. Throw the Word “Things” Out of Your Vocabulary

When was the last time you used the word “things” in one of your blog headlines? Don’t kid yourself. You know it’s an awful word with little appeal. So, why use it over and over?

What other words can you use?

  • Ideas
  • Effects
  • Habits
  • Assets
  • Secrets
  • Tricks
  • Lessons
  • Reasons

Would you rather hear about “10 Things That Help You Make Money” or “10 Secrets That Help You Make Money?”

2. Make an Intriguing Promise

The promise is typically something you can place at the end of your headline. In this article my promise is “…That Spike Conversions.” You can even go for something more extreme, but make sure you can follow through with data or stories that back it up.

For example you might create an article like, “10 Creative Ways to Sell Your Home in Just One Week.”

3. Where Can You Insert Quantifiable Specifics?

Numbers are always a sure-fire way to boost click-through rates, and the more obscure the number the better. Instead of creating a list with 10 points, consider going for 13 or 17 to go against the crowd.

For example you might create an article like, “How SEO Can Generate $1.5 Million for Your Business.”

4. Sneak in Adjectives that Aren’t Used Often

The words “quick” and “easy” tend to get plenty of use in headlines, but what about the more creative and enticing adjectives?

Here are some adjectives to get you started:

  • Clumsy
  • Thrifty
  • Wild
  • Free
  • Effortless
  • Wonderful
  • Peculiar

The list is endless, but you can check out Enchanting Learning for a nice start.

5. Forget About Stuffing Keywords

Targeting particular keywords helps a bit with SEO, but when you make it the focus of your headline building process your headlines eventually become rigged and stuffed with keywords.

Most people are fairly attuned to the workings of the internet, so just plopping keywords in your headlines makes you look rather unoriginal. Understand how keywords work and write for humans and structure for search engines.

6. Raise Curiosity With Cliffhangers or Questions

Some might consider this a trigger, and I often go back and forth recommending these because too many companies take advantage of cliffhangers and questions to create click bait, which is often annoying and misleading for users.

Instead, reveal the true article purpose in the headline, but incorporate a cliffhanger or question.

For example, “You’ll Never Believe This Money Making Trick I Learned at Coachella.”

As long as you reveal the trick in your article you shouldn’t have any problems.

7. Ultimate Headline Formula

Try out this formula to simply grab a few words, mash them together and come up with a better headline in seconds:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise
Example: 8 Simple Ways to Improve Your Business Blogging Today

Bonus: Headline Examples

Here are eight bonus headline strategies that are backed by psychology.

  1. Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”
  2. Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”
  3. Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”
  4. Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”
  5. How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”
  6. Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”
  7. Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”
  8. Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

Conclusion: Describe, Don’t Deceive

If your headlines don’t lead people to relevant content then you fail on all counts. After developing a solid headline, double check to ensure it isn’t misleading.

You’ll often hear that it’s best to spend a significant amount of time writing your blog headlines; and this is true, if you don’t have a formula to expedite the process.

That said, let us know in the comments section if you have any other systems that work for your headline creation process.

About Charlie Rose

Charlie has over 20 years of experience helping companies improve and fast-track success in organic search results. He can be found sharing meme's on Twitter.

4 responses to “How to Write SEO Friendly Headlines That Will Get Clicks”

  1. […] How to Write SEO Friendly Headlines That Will Get Clicks […]

  2. This is quite an old post but still relevant to present times! I learned a lot.

  3. Anh Tran says:

    Awesome tips! I like this post very much because the tips here are practical, not just theory!

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