Crafting Catchy Headlines: The Science Behind Success

People writing on table - Copywriting Crash Course: How to Write a Good Headline

Did you know that only 2 out of 10 people will read your blog? That’s right: 8 out of 10 will read your headline, but only a quarter of them will continue through.

That’s why knowing how to write catchy headlines matters.

Writing a good headline is the most important part of the process and should have the highest focus. Whether you’re writing a blog, marketing copy, or a web page, your headline matters the most.

Here are some of the key elements you should be including when you’re trying to write the best headlines that work.

The Science Behind Writing Effective Headlines

When you’re trying to figure out how to write a good headline, it’s important to make sure you’re considering what your reader wants. If they don’t see what’s in it for them, they aren’t going to read your article.

Headlines matter so much because it’s the first thing your reader is going to see. Most of the time it’s probably the only thing they’re going to see.

It doesn’t matter if you know how to write a good blog if you don’t know how to write catchy titles for those blogs.

Read on to find out how to write a good headline for your content. These are solid research-based strategies you can steal right now.

The Top 4 Most Effective Types of Attention Grabbing Headlines

Buzzfeed is known for its highly successful headlines, so naturally a study was done. The results showed that there are 4 types of catchy headlines that get shared on social media most often.

1. Questions

Some copywriters will tell you that asking a question isn’t as effective as you’d think it would be. This is mostly because it can start to look like a cheesy sales pitch. But this depends what question you ask and what you’re selling.

You can’t just ask any question. Ask a question that’s going to make the reader think about their own life. They’re going to wonder what they can get out of it from reading your article.

The reason that questions work so well is because they make people think about their lives. They’ll wonder what they want out of life. They will also stop and think about an answer, which peaks their curiosity about what you’ll have to say.

2. Numbers

People love reading lists. That’s why list posts are an effective way to get readers to engage with your content.

When there’s a number in your post, people are more likely to believe that you are an expert. This is especially true when you write a post giving them some reasons to do something. It comes off as more authoritative.

Research shows that odd-numbered lists do much better than posts with even numbers. They also get shared more often.

3. Addressing the Reader

When you directly address the reader it gives them a sense of urgency and a personal element. For example, tell them they need to do something right now.

Telling them they need to check something out right away gives people the sense of immediacy. Your audience is more inclined to act fast when you do this, which means faster conversions for you.

Using “you” and “your,” makes the audience feel obligated to do whatever it is you’re telling them to do. It also makes them feel like you’re speaking right to them. This makes them more inclined to follow through on your call to action.

4. How to

How to posts are great because the audience knows exactly what they’re getting out of it.

These posts also have a lower bounce rate. That’s because the type of audience that reads a how to post cares about the content you’re putting out. They are more likely to read the entire article, since they’ll have to get to the end for all the information.

You’ll also come across as the expert because you’re telling your audience how to do something from an authoritative position.

Person typing mac keyboard - The Science Behind Writing Effective Headlines

Watch Your Words

Just like anything you put on the Internet, words matter. Writing a good headline means knowing which words to use and how to use them effectively.

Use emotions and words that associate with feelings to hook readers in. They don’t have to be super emotional but they should evoke some type of curious reaction. Here are some examples: essential, unbelievable, exciting, important, helpful, and motivational.

Context words are also a key factor in writing headlines that work. Researchers at McGill University found that people responded to headlines that contained context words. These types of words evoke more emotion in your reader. It allows them to make a bigger connection to your content.

They grouped their findings into 4 main categories of context words. These categories are insight, time, space, and motion.

1. Insight words give the reader the sense that they’re getting something valuable and exclusive. These would be words like secrets, discovering, revelations, or confessions.

2. Time words include words like soon, now, history, everyday, or immediately. They give your audience a sense of urgency, as if they should act right away so they don’t miss out.

3. Space words are words that convey the idea that something is a big deal. If you say words like above, biggest, or everywhere, your readers will get a sense of importance.

4. Motion words give your audience the idea of positivity. These are words like grow, journey, increase, or boost. It gives them the sense of moving forward and getting things done. 

Experts recommend that context words should make up 17% of your article.

Google Eyes - How to Write a Good Headline Using Proven Science

Bad is…Good? 

Here’s an interesting tidbit. People love to click on negative things.

Many people like to think they only see the good in the world. But it turns out that words associated with negativity get a lot of clicks! A study showed that people were more likely to share titles that contained words like bleeding, death, kill, and war.

In fact, headlines with negative words or negative superlatives are 63% get more shares.

Headline examples for this type of content would be “Blackberry Messenger Faces Impending Death” or “5 Calls to Action That Will Kill Your Sales.”

This happens because people are always more interested in the bad than the good. In this sense, negativity resonates with us humans more than positivity. It sounds jaded, but it’ll work for your marketing objectives.

Another technique you can use to make headlines that work is to use the negative connotations of certain words. For example, instead of writing “5 Ways to Increase Your Social Media Presence,” you could write, “5 Social Media Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making.”

Blog Headline Templates

Writing Effective Headlines Means Using the Right Formula

Here are a few examples of templates and formulas that are proven to work for many digital marketers.

  • [#] + [adjective] + [noun] + [descriptive clause]

    • [desired end result] + [time period] + [address the objections]

    • [action you want them to take] + [specific time period] + [end result they want]

    • [#] + [adjective] + [noun] + [keyword] + [promise]

    • [action you want them to take] + [keyword] + [promise]

    • [negative word] + [action] + [keyword or promise]


The Wrap

Your headline is the single most important part of your entire blog. If you don’t nail it, you won’t get readers, clicks, or conversions.

It doesn’t matter how amazing or well-written your article is. If no one’s reading it, no one’s converting.

Nothing is set in stone in the digital age. But it’s important you follow the right formula and do your research.

If you need help with your digital strategy, contact VPDM. We’ll get you what you need to succeed with your business and reach all your marketing objectives.

Request a Quote Today!

Digital Marketing Company Toronto Niagara and St. Catharines. VPDM Digital MArketing & SEO.