The Anatomy Of The Perfect Headline

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Your headline is arguably the most important element of your blog post, because that title what’s going to attract your viewers and entice them to read your content. If you don’t have a strong title, it doesn’t matter how valuable your content is – no one’s going to click on it.

Keep reading for the 7 things you need to know to create great titles! At the end of the post, I put these criteria in action and analyze my own title to show you how it measures up!

Solve your readers’ problems

Pain points are the best place to start when thinking of ideas for your blog posts. You’re way more apt to gain readers for your blogs if you’re claiming to solve their biggest problems!

Use an abstract number

This tip is obviously situational, because it wouldn’t make sense to include a number in every single post (and that would be a little bit overkill if all of your blog posts began with “32 ways to…”). Long story short: our brains are weird. We’re more apt to trust a number like 17 or 49 than we are a more round number like 5 or 100. These abstract numbers sound more specific and trustworthy.

Evoke emotion

Your blog post headline should make people feel something. Whether your title evokes a positive or a negative emotion, you’re gaining their interest, and making them more inclined to share your post.

The rule of the 3s

Make sure the first 3 words and the last 3 words are strong. Remember what I said about your readers wanting digestible content? This is where your potential reader’s brain automatically goes when skimming a title.

Short & sweet

Keep your headline as short and informative as possible. Tell your reader exactly what they’re getting into from the jump, so they can click over to your post right away & get reading! Headlines around 6 words (55 characters) perform the best, because most people read at an 8th grade level. Even if they’re the most educated intellectual in the world, people like easily digestible content. It can be tempting to use bigger, fancier words in an effort to sound different and exciting, but your readers care more about quickly getting the idea of your general topic than they do about that fancy language.

Balance your words

Your title should have a good balance of commonly and uncommonly used words, as well as power words and (as aforementioned) emotion-evoking words. This can be difficult to do when your word count and character limit are supposed to make for an easily skimmable title.

Common words: 20-30% of your headline (ex: about, what, how, this, why, your, things, a, after, and)

Uncommon words: 10-20% of your headline (ex: more, social, year, world, see, here, beautiful, right)

Power words: at least one per headline (ex: will make you, you need to know, what happened to, no questions asked)

Emotional words: 10-15% of your headline (ex: confessions, attractive, danger, dollar, worry, spotlight)

Hint: if you’re looking to include your headline vocab, here’s a giant list of words to spice them up.

Focus on the benefit

Focusing on the benefit of the reader is a must. People are much more likely to click on a title like “How To Become A Millionaire” than “How I Became A Millionaire.” This is what I call using “you language” as opposed to “I language.” Your readers want to read relatable content, so writing a post instructing them about how they can become a millionaire would likely do much better than a story about how you became a millionaire yourself. See the difference?

Below is a list of my favorite tools for creating bomb headlines that will make people actually want to read what you have to say!

Headline analyzer

Blog post title generator

13 types of headlines that will get you more traffic

Now, let’s put all of this into practice using this blog post’s title as an example!

  1. Solve reader’s problem. In this case, the reader’s problem would be not knowing how to write a good headline for their blog posts or articles. I’d say this title does an okay job of addressing it, but the blog post itself is a little bit more informative than the title leads on. A better title for solving my readers’ problems could have been A Beginner’s Guide to Writing The Perfect Headline.

  2. Use abstract number. As I mentioned earlier, number-titles don’t always make sense. However, I could definitely reframe this post to include an abstract number, using a title like 7 Tips For Writing The Perfect Headline.

  3. Evoke emotion. This title may not seem than emotion-evoking, but it actually isn’t that bad in this department, because it helps the reader imagine a positive outcome. The emotions don’t have to be that deep or intense — “positive feeling” is definitely an okay sentiment for a blog post title. However, I wouldn’t say this is the “perfect” or “best” title in the emotion department by any means, because there are no *emotional* words in my headline.

  4. The rule of 3s. Because this title only has 7 words, I’d say I pass this one. I could probably benefit from adding another word.

  5. Short & sweet. An almost-pass. I could benefit from adding a few more characters to bring me closer to the goal of 55.

  6. Balance your words. I don’t think this title does a very good job of balancing words at all. For one, as I just said in #3, I evoke an emotional sentiment, but I don’t have any actual emotion-evoking words. My headline is made up of all pretty common words, and doesn’t really have any powerful or striking words.

  7. Focus on the benefit. I think this title does well enough in terms of communicating the benefit, but framing it as a “how to” title could have been more effective, because it makes it clear that I’m teaching you something, whereas my current title doesn’t make it as apparent.

Okay, now that I’ve performed that little self-assessment, let’s check my title in CoSchedule’s headline analyzer!

The headline analyzer’s results were almost exactly what I expected. However, I do think they were a little generous in the ‘emotion’ score. I knew it offered a positive income, but I don’t know if it deserved the smiley face. I will note, though, that I did this analysis with the free version of CoSchedule’s tool. When I added the Google Chrome extension, which offers a free trial of CoSchedule’s Premium analyzer, they gave me the real tea, which said:

  • My headline wasn’t long enough

  • My word balance sucked (they’re not wrong)

  • The title offered great clarity for my readers

  • Second-grade reading level (Can you read the word “anatomy” in 2nd grade?! Seems ambitious to me.)

  • Perfectly skimmable

I don’t think I’d recommend paying for the Premium CoSchedule tool (even though now I know the free version lies just to get on your good side – rude) because it’s fairly easy to determine whether or not your headline is good based on the above criteria I shared! So, save your money and save this blog post for later.

Knowing how to write good headlines is extremely important if you’re hoping to gain more web traffic through blogging! And going over your titles (like I just did) to see how you could reframe them is a great exercise for what to call your posts when you promote them on Pinterest.

Side note: you know you’re supposed to promote each blog post with 5-8 pins that have titles and descriptions. Right? If you just read that sentence and said “ummm, wait what?!” then you need to read this post and download my free Pinterest optimization guide ASAP rocky.

I hope you found this post helpful! And if you ever need help editing a blog post (or want to say ‘screw it’ and hire someone else to write them), you know where to find me!

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Hi, I'm Sara—Website Copywriter & Marketing Mentor.

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