Want to write blog headlines that work? Smart blog post titles persuade people to click through and read the post. In this article, we'll share 6 persuasion tricks to write blog headlines that work like gangbusters, every single time.
Do you know the #1 killer of blogs?
Well, here at Persuasion Nation we’ve inspected probably hundreds of blogs that are struggling to gain traction. And we’ve found something that 99% of them have in common.
It’s bad headlines.
Yep, it doesn’t matter how good your post is… it could be the most epic, in-depth, eloquently-written article known to man…
But all it takes is one bad headline to crush it, and kill it dead.
Your headline is hands-down the most important part of your blog post. If you don’t get the headline right, no one will click through to your article and read it, and you will have ZERO chances of growing your audience.
So how do you write headlines that persuade people to click through and read? What’s the secret to writing blog headlines that actually work?
The good news is, it’s actually pretty easy to tweak a bad headline and turn it into a good one. It takes practice of course, but it’s a whole lot easier when you have the right tricks up your sleeve.
Here are 6 persuasion tricks that are proven to turn your headlines from “humdrum” to “irresistible”…
1. Add Numbers
Using a number in your headline never fails. Look at my post’s headline again… “6 Persuasion Tricks…” The key: number six. And you’re reading this post right now, so it must have worked! This works for several reasons:
First, adding a number makes your headline more specific. People like things that are specific because they are predictable, and predictability gives people a feeling of control. Feeling in control is so important to humans (and animals) that it actually reduces stress! So, I gave my you an idea of how my article is structured from the very start. You knew exactly what you were going to get when you clicked through to my post.
Secondly, numbers are great attention grabbers. As eye-tracking studies show, there’s just something about a number (when written as a numeral) that draws your eye straight to it.
Thirdly, using numbers in your headline gives your post more credibility, especially when you use an ultra-specific number. For example, “How to Get Your First 100 Subscribers” sounds more believable than “How to Get Tons of New Subscribers”. And “How I Got 301 Subscribers in 7 Days” sounds more believable than “How I Got 300 Subscribers in a Week” (even though they are essentially the same quantities).
There’s also a side-benefit to using numbers, and in particular when you structure your post as a list post: having a numbered headline means that your article will be well-organized as well. (Fun fact: list posts are much easier to write than “how-to” posts!)
Here are some tips on how to use numbers in your blog post titles:
- Odd numbers are more eye-grabbing than even numbers. That’s because they tend to sound more specific. So use numbers like 7 and 11, but never use the number 10 (“10 Ways to…” etc. is a way-overused headline, and doesn’t sound credible).
- Higher numbers have higher perceived value, and the data shows that long-form (2,000+ word) content gets more traffic and shares (even though people are more likely to scan your article than read the whole thing). So the more points you can add to your list post, the better! (Provided your content is actually good, of course.)
- Try writing your list post first, and then leaving the number for last. You don’t need a specific number in mind to begin writing.
2. Play on Emotion
Words that play on human emotions also work to persuade people to click. There are 8 common human emotions that you can use in your headlines by adding their associated words:
- Curiosity – words like “bizarre”, “concealed”, “unconventional”, or “stunning”
- Greed – words like “treasure”, “ultimate”, “cheap”, or “last chance”
- Vanity – words like “successful”, “smart”, “beautiful”, “elite” or “undefeated”
- Trust – words like “authoritative”, “proven”, “results”, or “expert”
- Anger – words like “abuse”, “corrupt”, “underhanded”, or “lies”
- Fear – words like “mistake”, “deadly”, “dangerous”, or “risky”
- Sloth (avoidance of work) – words like “easy”, “fail-proof”, “straightforward”, or “steal”
- Lust (intense desire) – words like “fascinating”, “exotic”, “mouthwatering” or “thrilling”
Check out this big list of emotional power words.
To discover even more ideas for emotional words, use Thesaurus.com to hunt for synonyms. Thinking outside the box and coming up with brand new words can be truly boost your click-through rate!
You can also check out the competition. Are they also using emotional words? What words are they using, and what synonyms can you find?
Also try analyzing the Emotional Marketing Value of your headline: a score based on how emotional your headline is and which primary emotion it uses (intellectual, empathetic, or spiritual). Research shows that posts with high EMV have more shares than the usual ones.
All you have to do to calculate the EMV of your headline is to paste it into this headline analyzer tool.
3. Use Buzz Words
Do you know the “buzz words” that your target audience uses? Knowing these exact keywords is really important, not only for persuading people to click, but also for getting found in Google in the first place.
You can also do a simple Google search for the topic of your blog post and scroll down to the bottom to see the list of “Searches related to…”. This list will give you some great buzz words use in your headline!
When adding buzz words to your headline, always make sure to use the exact keyword that people are searching for. Again, people like to feel in control, and when they search for something they are more likely to click on the result that most closely matches their query.
4. Have the Element of Surprise
Headlines can work especially well when they include an element that your readers will least expect.
For example, let’s take this headline: “How Wearing Heels Made Me a Better Football Player”. This headline has the element of surprise because you wouldn’t expect a football player to wear heels, let alone improve their game by wearing them.
This phenomenon is known as the Information Gap: a specific uncertainty that we recognize and are aware of, which causes us to seek out information to close the gap. In other words, we as humans become curious easily, and are desperate to satisfy that curiosity.
To use the element of surprise, or the Information Gap, simply add something unexpected to your headline. Something so that your readers can’t help but wonder to themselves, “But, but, but…how?”
You can also use curiosity-inducing phrases like:
- this is the
- will make you
- when you see
- what happens when
- you need to
- blow your mind
- in the world
- here are the
- this is what
- I’ve ever seen
Of course, make sure that your post provides really awesome content, and that you aren’t just “click baiting” people into reading it… these curiosity-inducing headlines tend to be overused by spammy websites, so don’t use them all the time, and really deliver on your promises when you do!
5. Address Your Audience
Addressing or referencing your audience directly with your headline is a copywriting technique that professionals use to grab attention.
Copywriter Mel Martin was known for addressing his audience in his headlines. For example, “For golfers who are almost (but not quite) satisfied with their game– and can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong”.
In fact, he wrote another variation on the same headline for a totally different niche!
The easiest way to write headlines like this that address your audience directly is to simply use the word “you”.
For example, a study in Norway found that headlines using audience-referencing cues like “Is this your new iPhone4?” generated higher click-through rates than other headlines like “For sale: Black iPHone4 16GB” or “Anyone need a new iPhone4?”.
6. Use Negative Superlatives
We’ve all seen headlines using positive superlatives like “best”, “biggest”, “always” or “greatest”. These are effective headlines, but did you know that headlines using negative superlatives (like “never” or “worst”) are even more effective?
A study published by Outbrain showed that headlines containing negative superlatives performed 30% better than headlines with positive superlatives, and the average click-through rate was a staggering 63% higher.
How can this be? Why are people more attracted to negative headlines than positive ones?
Well, some theories are that positive headlines are overused by so many blogs that are letdowns, so they have become cliché. They can also make the reader question the writer’s honesty, wondering if the article is really just a paid endorsement. On the other hand, negative headlines are perceived as more authentic (no one would get paid to write a bad review), and they have “shock value”.
That’s it! You’ve just added 6 persuasion tricks to your arsenal for writing blog headlines that work.
Remember, writing clickable headlines takes practice. You just have to crank out a ton of headlines before you’ll come up with good ones.
But now that you have this list of tricks, the process will be much easier. Just start writing, and you’ll be amazed at what you can come up with!
Jack White is an excellent writer who started his career from the bottom. Today, Jack is an employee of Essays.ScholarAdvisor where he works for the PR department. Jack is determined to carry on his success even into the future.