You probably know that if you can create the best blog headlines you can get more traffic to your website.
But most bloggers struggle to create a great headline that relates to their article.
Don't fret though amigo... Because headlines have been studied in great detail and there are some clear winning tactics that can help. In fact, once you start using the "perfect headline formula" it becomes as easy to write great headlines as saying 1-2-3!
This post will show you the findings of the best headline research ever done and how you can use this to create the best blog headlines.
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Why are Headlines so Important?
Here's a fact for you:
You get less than 5 seconds to make someone's mind up as to whether they want to read your article.
11 tips to write attractive headlines for the blog post— GEC Designs (@gectouch) February 4, 2019
Read more at: https://t.co/jZZUDo71XT#blog #DigitalMarketing #DigitalStrategy #SEO #blogging #marketingtips #marketing #socialmediamarketing #startup #onlinemarketing #bloggingtips #ContentMarketing pic.twitter.com/po4wQAaVel
Now, let me ask you this...
Do you think it's important to spend time on something that accounts for 50% of your blog posts effectiveness?
Optimize all your Headlines for maximum results.— Thriam Digitomation (@3Mdigitomation) February 26, 2019
Visit: https://t.co/WzmtIeZbfR#Digitalmarketing #Tip #Headlines #Searchengines #Results #Optimize #Thriamdigitomation #Weconnectyou #Curatingforyou #Socialmediamarketing #Updates pic.twitter.com/Q82iUqQkwY
The best digital marketers, such as Neil Patel, have identified the main reason that bloggers should spend more time on their headline.
8 out of 10 will read the headline and only 2 will read your feature. Interesting tips. http://t.co/jQtXYOK0Gl pic.twitter.com/fapBUnakyD— gabrielle nicole (@gabbynikki) August 22, 2014
The rule of thumb is to spend the same amount of time on piecing your headline together as you spend writing your blog post. Are you beginning to see why the best bloggers spend so much time on their headlines?
Is There a Science to Writing Headlines?
It's more of an art combined with some science! But since there's no way to guarantee what people will click on, this post will focus on the science side as much as possible. There are studies that have produced some incredible stats about what people tend to click on more often.
The more you read this article the more you will begin to understand how you can use these studies to your advantage!
So what are some of these results from these headline studies?
1. Use a Number at the Start
A number in the title resonates the most with readers by far! So try to use a number in your headline in at least 50% of your blog posts.
Conductor did a study and produced the following table...
Overall Headline Preferences http://t.co/ZQaVOUNAMH via @peeplaja pic.twitter.com/bclMRnQiPA— etohum (@etohum) July 28, 2014
2. Odd Numbers Get 20% More Clicks Than Even Numbers
Not only do we now know that we should use a number, but it's been proven that odd numbers get more clicks! Content Marketing Institute discovered this when they analysed 150,000 of the most successful headlines. Do not ask me why... it's weird!!
Odd numbers in a headline get 20% more clicks than even numbers @BrandonGaille @CMIContent https://t.co/LKsxN6WrM8 pic.twitter.com/fvK29wF6Hm— Mike Beatty (@maketimeonline) February 28, 2019
3. Use Caps For The First Letter Of Each Word
The Conductor study also analysed the best way to use capitals in your headlines.
They looked at 3 different ways:
Sentence Case - Effortlessly Create the Best Blog Headlines
CAPITALS- EFFORTLESSLY CREATE THE BEST BLOG HEADLINES
lower case- Effortlessly create the best blog headlines
As you can see "Sentence Case" was the clear winner...
@Conductor did a study that found the best way to use capitals in your headlines- headline capitalization preferenceshttps://t.co/J7qctg0cXF pic.twitter.com/Lpppe3mpaY— Mike Beatty (@maketimeonline) March 2, 2019
#4 Use 57 Characters or Less
If your title gets cut off in Google then it may not have the same impact. Google cuts off headlines that are wider than 600 px wide on desktop.
Moz studied over 28,000 headlines on Google's first page.
They found that the headlines get cut off between 42-68 characters long. The average was 57.7 characters. It's important to note that some letters take up more space than others i.e. "w" takes up 4 times as much space as "i".
If you're like me you are gonna want to test that...
(Seems about right to me!)
If you want to air on the side of caution then use 45 characters max. But remember you can often use more emotional or powerful words the longer the title is, so it needs to be long enough to do two things:
- Make sense
- Grab attention!
@Moz Found that the title's get cut off in Google between 42-68 character count. The average was 57.7 characters, so keep your title character count below 55! @thewebmastercom https://t.co/2XueaRP7rI pic.twitter.com/Aw5rta0ZKg— Mike Beatty (@maketimeonline) March 2, 2019
The Webmaster tweeted me back on the above link. Moz found it actually increased to 70 characters in 2016 and 78 on mobile...
Moral of the story, longer headlines can be found so don't scrimp! Make sure your message comes across in your headline and it makes sense.
#5 Stack Your Targeted Keyword at the Start
Verbilo did a report on how to use CoScheduler to write great headlines. They found that readers tend to skim headlines and so really only take in the first and last 3 words.
If you want your readers to know what you are writing about then try to use your keyword at the start of the title.
#6 6 Words is Optimum
Since readers skim headlines, you can help them to read it all by trying to use 6 words. Remember, they tend to read the first and last 3 words of a headline
Makes sense, right?
What Really Is The Best #Headline Length? #contentmarketing http://t.co/0onFSVCacL pic.twitter.com/r1pIkOE5fO— 10x Marketing (@ContentHackers) April 26, 2015
#7 Use a Strong Adjective (Superlative) at the Beginning of the Title- But Don't Overuse Them!
Remember the one job of your title is to get readers to click on the link. This means they want to know what it's about! If you just write a load of descriptive words the message gets lost... so don't overdo it!
However, a great superlative adds more emotion and can make people want to click. That's probably why 1 superlative did the best in the Conductor study!
@Conductor discovered 1 supurlative gets the best response! @BrandonGaille https://t.co/LKsxN6WrM8 pic.twitter.com/nXNUxd0HeF— Mike Beatty (@maketimeonline) March 2, 2019
#8 Scare People Into Clicking With a Negative Superlative
i.e. 11 Worst Things That Will Destroy Your Business
CoScheduler discovered this interesting fact:
Negative superlatives performed 30% better than positive ones!
Blinking human nature eh?! Why does this not surprise you?
Have you noticed that the news always seems to be depressing? This probably explains why they choose these types of headlines more often!
@CoSchedule found that negative supurlatives do 30% better than poitive ones! May explain why the news is always doom and gloom! pic.twitter.com/kAlA4kDWzK— Mike Beatty (@maketimeonline) March 2, 2019
#9 Use You or Your
Make it about the reader. How are you going to help them?
Putting "you" in the title makes the reader believe you are talking to them! Buffer analysed the most highly shared titles and found that posts most shared were list posts and then "you/ your" posts (that's why using a number was tip #1!)
The Most Popular Words and Phrases in Highly-Shared Headlines: http://t.co/L1kB99qWeZ pic.twitter.com/gcM19IZFoW— Buffer (@buffer) August 26, 2014
#10 Using a Question? Only Use “How”
Buzzstream did a study that looked into the 10 worst shared phrases in titles. Among these 10 phrases were:
The only question word that does well to create the best blog headline is "how". i.e. How to Win Friends and Influence People.
What You Can Learn From The Worst-Performing Headlines On @Buzzfeed http://t.co/iy7cwdaeGH #Content pic.twitter.com/R4v3gHt2Nj— Larry Kim (@larrykim) August 20, 2015
#11 Use the Most Shared Keyword Phrases
Check out Buzzsumo's awesome research and see how Max Woolf has broken it down into easy to see phrases.
The best 3-word phrases are...
Measured by Facebook shares:
- Character are you
- Before you die
- You probably don't
Measured by FB engagement:
- Will make you
- This is why
- Can we guess
Top B2B headline phrases and more - interesting insights from @Buzzsumo for #B2BContentWriting https://t.co/WrZYUlyjEw#ContentMarketing #B2BSocialMedia pic.twitter.com/73dRCNmxKd— Radha Giri (@RadhaGiri) February 25, 2019
@maxwoolf Check out the most shared phrases on @facebook amazing stats provided https://t.co/hhJXXB4mwq pic.twitter.com/mamMBrBcOO— Mike Beatty (@maketimeonline) March 2, 2019
#12 Use Power Words! Create Emotion
You probably already know that emotional blog titles are shared much more. CoSchedule proved posts that were shared over 1,000 times had a much higher emotional marketing value (EMV)
Here is an infographic with CoSchedule's "power words"! Use these to create emotion...
Looking for a list of power words to use in your next headline? Here's an infographic to help! https://t.co/pezZgs5c04 pic.twitter.com/3BCKJiEwXM— CoSchedule (@CoSchedule) December 29, 2017
As you continue to read this page you will discover 2 amazing headline tools that can help to see the EMV score for your headline!
#13 Use a [Bracketed] Word!
People pick up on the bracketed word(s) because it is promising a certain type of content. For example:
Vb3 found that people tended to click on a bracketed headline 38% more often.
The Perfect Headline Formula- Top Secret Blueprint
Now I can almost hear your mind thinking... "I don't know where to start!!"
So let me put all of this information into the perfect headline formula. This formula can be used to churn out the best blog headlines as easily as burgers in McDonald's.
Of course, you've heard that you should spend just as long on your headline as you do writing your posts. You probably know that you should write 25 titles to create the best blog headlines. But this formula can help you come up with emotional, precise headlines that people will want to click!
Here it is amigo:
|odd number| + |superlative| + |keyword| + |additional wants|
The first thing to do is decide what your blog topic is going to be about. If you're anything like me then you probably want to get a constant stream of free traffic to your website. Of course, you know that you will need to improve your SEO and rank on the first page of Google to be able to do this!
Therefore, the most important thing is obviously your keyword.
Unless you'd like an epic 5,000-word article, this is not the time to get into finding great keywords that people search for every month but don't have too many competing websites for it.
Top tip: There are some great AI writing tools that exist now that can really help with creating your headlines.
Steps to find the best headline
Now, you have your keyword we fill in the other blanks from the formula. This is how you can find out what number you should use, what superlative would work and what the additional wants should be...
- Type in your keyword into Google
- Make your number odd and higher than the highest number on page one of Google
- Note if there is a common superlative
- Take note of what the additional parts of the headings are
And do you begin to notice how you are creating a title that already ranks on page 1 on Google? But it doesn't finish there!! You are going to make your title stand out and better than everyone else...
Let's walk through an example together...
Let's use the keyword "fat loss tips"...
1. Type in Fat Loss Tips into Google
2. The highest number on the page is The 77 Best Fat Loss Tips... So we want an odd number higher than 77 (as the highest number often gets clicked!)
3. The superlative's on page one include "effective" and "best" (none are in more than one headline)
4. The top 4 out of 5 headlines mention "experts" or "backed by science".
So if your keyword was "fat loss tips" a great title would be:
85 Effective Fat Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based 
You have made your title stand out in 3 key ways:
- You now have the highest number (human nature likes more!)
- Your superlative is related to the most common emotional pull ("effective" in this case)
- You have taken the most common additional wants and gone one step further (put 2019 in brackets)
Now let's compare your headline with the top three on page one:
- 20 Effective Tips to Lose Belly Fat (Backed by Science)
- How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science
- 26 Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based
- 85 Effective Fat Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based 
You decide what title you would click on here.
Headline Tools That Give You the Edge
OK so that was the juicy part but there's one last step that you MUST do if you want to make sure you're writing the best headline possible!
These are the 2 amazing headline tools:
- CoSchedule- Great to get a quick rough idea
- Aminstitute- More accurate at giving an emotional score
CoSchedule is a great tool to get an idea quickly about whether your headline would work to drive traffic and shares. It's monkey simple to use and gives some great tips to improve the score.
Once you think you've settled on your headline head over to Aminstitute. This is where you can find out your headlines EMV (Emotional Marketing Value). This score is without a doubt the one you need to focus on the most as if you can get a good EMV (above 50% is pretty good!)
As you can see below, the average EMV score is almost 40 of posts that get shares of over 1,000. So if you can get the score above 50%, have an odd number in there with a great keyword you'll definitely be doing something right!
Posts With a Higher Emotional Value Get More Shares [via @CoSchedule] #smlondon pic.twitter.com/74krhQpMbH— Social Media London (@SocialMediaLond) July 29, 2014
Going back to the example above it shows why these are the top 3 rankings on Google!
- 20 Effective Tips to Lose Belly Fat (Backed by Science) - CoScheduler 64 Aminstitute 40%
- How to Lose Weight Fast: 3 Simple Steps, Based on Science - CoScheduler 67 Aminstitute 27.27%
- 26 Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based - CoScheduler 65 Aminstitute 50%
- 85 Effective Fat Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based - CoScheduler 65 Aminstitute 55.56%
All of this can be a lot to take in at one sitting. So get your free headline templates and a different example of the perfect blog formula sent to your inbox here...
Use The Perfect Headline Cheatsheet To Make Click Worthy Titles
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Create the Best Blog Headlines Summary
So writing a headline is part art part science.
However, are you beginning to notice you can use these studies to your advantage when creating your headlines?
There's no easy way to create the best blog headlines and it will require some time and work. But if you can use the perfect headline formula you will be on your way to making your headlines stand out like an honest man in the White House.
Keep changing for the better,
P.S. Check out this video explaining exactly how I created a passive income online within a year.
Great Post Mike – I am evernoting this 1!
although maybe it should have been called ’11 Proven Blog Headline Tips, You Probably didn’t know, Guaranteed. 🙂
If i can hazard a guess about the odd number of things rather than even – is because most things in nature look ‘right’ in odd numbers. in fact 3 is the most pleasing cluster when you are planting out a garden. just a thought.
Ok – off to revamp some old blog headlines!
Haha! Ooo yeah, that is a good title! As you can tell I’m still learning!
There’s a lot to be said about keyword research I’ve learnt a lot about this recently… particularly batching time (as in a whole week) to do it properly as it can have a huge impact. It’s definitely not something that you can just dip into (like I tend to do) in 20 minutes or so as you need to go through hundreds (if not thousands) to really find the best keywords (high traffic & low competition).
Thanks again for stopping by. We defo need to have a catch-up soon
Very helpful, Mike! I’m not sure what my next blog topic is going to be but I could see myself writing a piece soon that is titled something like this: “7 SURPRISING BENEFITS OF FAILING”. Or. “9 REASONS YOU MAY BE BURNED OUT”.
I always enjoy your posts!
My Best Friend Adeline
Thanks so much for stopping by as always! I would definitely read both of those posts. One of my favourite books is Scott Adams how to fail at almost everything and still win big!
Take care, I’ll be sure to check out your website to see when you’ve posted them!
Such great and useful tips !!! The title/headline you choose is SO important!! Thanks for sharing ❤️
Thanks Jessica, I hope it was helpful! Do let me know if you have any questions or anything I could help you with.
All are smart tips Mike. I dig using numbers to draw folks in. True; odd numbers do seem to nab more clicks. More than anything, solve reader problems through your titles. This non-negotiable needs to be in place to drive blog traffic.
Thanks Ryan, yeah there are some great little stats that can improve the headlines like those mentioned. But like you say solving a problem and actually helping people is without doubt the best way!
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