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How To Write Great Headlines That Get More Blog Traffic

By vivian on September 7, 2015

writing great headlines

Do you want to drive more traffic to your site? One of the best ways to do this is by writing great headlines for your blog posts. You could be producing great content that is really valuable for your audience, but if you don’t have great headlines, then people may never know how great your content is. Great content will not do you much good if you don’t attract people to this content with a great headline.

What’s the importance of having great headline?

Simply put, the goal of a great headline is to convince someone to click on it and start reading the content. In many ways, the headline is the most valuable part of the content.

David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising.
David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising.

A little wise words by Mr. David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising, once said: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

The point is great headline is the gateway to the rest of your content.

Imagine someone searching the Internet for information. Your content shows up in the search results.

If you have a boring headline that does not reflect the quality and value of your content, then very few people will click through to read your content.

On the other hand, an exciting headline with a big promise of real value will attract people. Of course, your content has to deliver on this promise, but you won’t even get the chance with a poor headline.

Simple And Easy Ways To Writing Headlines That Work!

  • Simple tips to refer to at all times.
  • Best practices on writing great headlines.
  • Absolute checklist for all beginners!

So, what are the rules for writing great headlines?

Well, basically there are four basic rules for writing great headlines. Using these principles will make your headlines more compelling to readers and result in more traffic for your blog posts.

Rule #1: Be Unique

Today, content is everywhere. Search the web for something like “social media best practices”, and you will see a results list of articles that basically look the same.

If your headline is “5 Tips for Social Media Marketing,” then your article is just going to blend in with all the other articles out there on basic social media marketing.

But if your headline is something like this “5 Tips for Wowing Your Followers on Social Media”, most likely that your headline will stand out from the rest and get the attention it deserves as this may sound more unique and promises a certain “wow” factor.

  • Be bold. A good headline requires taking a risk and putting something out there that is truly unique.

  • Show your personality. People like engaging with interesting people so make sure your unique personality shines through your headline.

  • Be intriguing. Making a strong promise to your readers adds intrigue to your post. It makes the readers wonder about how you are going to deliver on this promise.

Rule #2: Be Clear and Specific

Your readers are looking for some kind of information and if your headline can tell exactly what they are looking for then very likely you can get them to click on your headline instead of the others. All you need to do is just be clear and specific at all times.


Headline #1: Is a little too generic. It doesn’t tell what sorts of tips are being offered and who are these tips for…but on the other hand,

Headline #2: is more specific. It lets the reader know that the goal of the content is to help small businesses attract new customers and grow.

If you have content that is specifically oriented to a particular niche, you have to say that in the headline. Just like how Chubbies did it in their headline. This way the people in the niche know that you are offering information meant to answer their questions, solve their problems and fill their needs.

Make sure your headline is clear and specific at all times.
Make sure your headline is clear and specific at all times.

Rule #3: Create Urgency

The best headlines make the reader feel like they need to read the content right now. The message is urgent and demands immediate attention. Readers should feel that if they skip this content they are missing out on something really important that they need to know.

Use words like “now” or “today” in your headlines to create the sense of urgency for the content and promise a benefit that is so attractive that people are going to want it sooner rather than later.


This benefit is so positive that business owners struggling with Twitter are going to want to read the content right away to get the benefit now.

You could also use a negative consequence in your headlines to create urgency. “7 Social Media Marketing Mistakes that You are Probably Making” implies urgency because unless you fix the mistakes soon, your social media marketing will fail.

Rule #4: Deliver Value

The main thing that will attract a reader is useful information. The point of the good headline is to convey value to the reader. A catchy and clever headline is nice, but misses the point. You don’t want to sacrifice the clarity of your benefit for clever phrasing.

A headline like “Use Social Media Marketing to Get New Customers and Grow Your Business” offers a clear benefit to a small business owner. Just think about for a second – who doesn’t want new customers and business growth? Am I right?

And since many small business owners are unsure on how social media works, offering them a way to use social media to get all these customers they’ve always wished for is definitely a great move for them to include it in as part of their strategic digital marketing plan.

The Best Kinds of Headlines

Write headlines that bring more traffic.
Write headlines that bring more traffic.

There are a certain types of headlines that can help you to drive higher reader engagement and below are just some of the great headlines you should be writing from now on.

#1: List Headlines

List posts are some of the most popular on the web and for good reason. They appeal to people by claiming to answer an important question. In addition, they simplify vast amounts of information into a clear ordered list. If your content can be expressed in list form, you should try to create a list post.

You probably have seen such headlines like these before and in fact these are some of our best performing blog posts:

Besides that, below are some other fun facts which you may want to find out:

Our brains love numbers!
Our brains love numbers!

As you can see from the diagram above, numbers are like “brain candy.” Studies have shown that our brains are more receptive to headlines with numbers than those without any numbers.

Besides that, there is another interesting fact which you may want to find out too – according to Content Marketing Institute, if your headline starts with an odd number, most likely these headline will get a higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.

Some of the popular list headlines on Buzzfeed.
Some of the popular list headlines on Buzzfeed.

#2: How-to Headlines

These posts are popular because they promise real substance. The reader is going to learn how to do something she really wants to do. “How to Get 10,000 Twitter Followers for Your Business” is a good example. Now your content has to deliver on this promise and actually offer a plan for achieving this.

Some good examples would be something from our own blog posts.

Example 1: “How to Quickly Fix These 11 Major Blogging Mistakes Made By Newbies


Example 2: “How To Improve Your Sales Emphatically Through Storytelling”


Example 3: “How To Increase Blog Traffic Without Spending A Single Dime”


Example 4: “How To Choose The Best Social Media For Your Business”


#3: Question Headlines

These headlines pose a question that the content must answer. Basic questions involve who, what, when, where or why. For example, “Why Should My Small Business Have a Blog?” asks a question that many small business owners are asking. Many people type questions right into search engines. If your headline matches a popular question, then it will be seen by many people. They will want to click through to find the answer to their question.

A very good example of question headline would be something from Quicksprout:

Example of question headline from Quicksprout.
Example of question headline from Quicksprout.

#4: Generic Headlines

You may want to be a little careful when writing these kinds of headlines. These vanilla headlines won’t win you much traffic or do justice to the great content that you have to offer.

In today’s world, if your blog posts consist of all the generic headlines, chances are you won’t be grabbing much of the attention from your visitors and worse still, your blog headlines are just not appealing enough for them to tweet it for you.

Use the pointers in this post to improve your generic headlines. As mentioned by CoSchedule, you’ve to at least write 25 different headlines for every single post in order to come up with the best one. Try using a formula when writing these generic headlines.

Use a Formula
Follow this formula when writing your headlines.

[Number or Trigger Word] + [Adjective] + [Keyword] + [Promise]

In this formula, you start with a number for a list, or a trigger word like “how to.” Then you add an adjective to provoke emotions in your reader. Your headline should include a keyword that is relevant to searchers looking for focused content. Finally, you make a promise to your readers.

For example, “5 Exciting Ways to Grow Your Business with Social Media” fits this formula.

  • It starts with a number
  • Then moves to an adjective to stir the emotions by saying that ways to use social media are exciting.
  • The keyword is social media. This is what the post is about.
  • Finally, the promise is that you will grow your business.

Related post

Use Powerful and Emotional Words

According to CoSchedule, they’ve analyzed over one million headlines in their database and found out that headlines with higher emotional value actually get 10X more social shares than those with a lower emotional value.

Headlines with emotional value get more shares.
Headlines with emotional value get more shares.

As seen from the statistics, it clearly shows that it is feasible to include some of the emotional trigger words into those headlines. Therefore, you may want to include some of these emotional words in your next headline to see if this will help you in attracting more visitors to your blog posts.

By the way, check out the following infographic for a list of 180 power words you can use in writing your great headlines.

Source: CoSchedule ~ 180 powerful words for writing emotional headlines.
Source: CoSchedule ~ 180 powerful words for writing emotional headlines.

Well, those are just some of the recommended suggestions in writing good headlines. Remember to invest more of your time and efforts into writing such great headlines because at the end of the day, it is still one of the most effective ways of driving more traffic to your blog or website.

Related articles you might like:

Simple And Easy Ways To Writing Headlines That Work!

  • Simple tips to refer to at all times.
  • Best practices on writing great headlines.
  • Absolute checklist for all beginners!

Updated: 22 May 2024


About Vivian

Vivian is an anthropologist lost in the world of digital marketing. She has an interest in learning about the science of marketing and the creativity that businesses use to transform themselves into purple cows.

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