Writing Compelling Headlines that Make Readers Click…Hopefully

How to Write a Compelling Headline that Will Make Readers Click

You’ve got about 15 seconds to hook your readers before they’re off to the races and scrolling for something else. That’s it. More than half of the population will give your material a quarter of a minute of their distracted attention.

How can you maximize time on your pages instead of someone else’s? Well, you need to get them on your page for longer than 15 seconds for one thing. But how?

The first tool in your kit is a rock-solid headline. 

Understanding the Importance of Headlines

It’s hard to overstate exactly how important the headline is in your overall strategy and message. Yes, it’s the first thing any potential customer or reader sees of your work. But it is also an important search marker. 

Headlines are important because they are the first thing a potential customer or reader sees and are also important search markers. Headlines have a big impact on click-through rates. A compelling headline can distinguish between someone reading your article or moving on to something else.

The Role of Headlines in Content Marketing

Headlines have a pretty important role in content marketing. They grab the reader’s attention and, from there, entice them to click through your article. 

Here are some tips for writing effective SEO headlines:

  • Use relevant keywords
  • Keep your headlines short and concise
  • Use power words
  • Ask a question
  • Use numbers
  • Use humor 

A well-crafted headline can make a big difference in your click-through rates, too. 

Impact of Headlines on Click-Through Rates

You need to have a basic understanding of click-through rates to understand the importance of headlines on click-through rates. 

Click-through rate (CTR) is a ratio that measures how often people click on an ad or product listing after seeing it. It’s calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of times the ad appears and then expressing the result as a percentage. For example, if an ad has 5 clicks and 100 impressions, the CTR is 5%.

Seems simple enough. 

But the very first thing you need to have to get anyone clicking (that’s what it is all about, really), is something to grab their attention. And that thing is a rock-solid headline. 

Why Crafting a Compelling Headline Matters

As they say, everything is sales. Even the things that aren’t overtly sales tasks, like writing a blog post, are still sales. Your blog is basically one huge sales letter, and the headline is your best opportunity to get readers to click through.

Elements of a Compelling Headline

Enough of the whys. Let’s focus on the how.

Clarity and Conciseness

This section applies to all parts of the written word: make it clear and concise.

If ChatGPT suggests a sprawling, multi-line headline, you should run away in the opposite direction.

Instead, pose the question your target audience wants and needs an answer to. While you’re at it, throw in a little wit and humor (unless you’re naturally unfunny and awkward. In that case, don’t). Keep your headline short, sweet, and to the point. 

Tips for Writing Effective Headlines

Okay, so how can you write an effective headline? 

First, you need to practice writing headlines. But here are some other key tips:

  • Make sure you are using relevant keywords. 
  • Keep the headlines short and concise (yes, I know we already talked about that.)
  • Use power words
  • Ask questions with the headline
  • Insert numbers
  • Again, be funny if you can

Keep it Short and Sweet

Look, like it not nobody is really that interested in reading your articles. We can pretend it’s something else and that people really want to read then, but at the end of the day, the whole game is about getting Google to trust your content so they will give it the visibility you want. That’s it. After that, the reader can judge whether or not you did it right. 

But as far as the headline goes, minimalism is the best way to go. You want to  

You need to Test Different Formulas and Styles

Content is a numbers game, nothing more, nothing less. You have got to be cranking out a significant amount of content to get noticed, and it never really ends. Your strategy has to be constant production for a long while, then analysis to figure out which ones are working and which are lacking.

My Favorite Tools and Resources for Crafting Headlines

Your number one resource for crafting anything worth reading is exposure. Exposure to great writing. Do you want to write recycled trash just like everyone else writes? Cool, just read some crap blog posts or newsletters generated by AI. You’ll hate it. 

No, you need to read good writing. It will push your brain into overdrive and you will learn how to actually write well. 

Now, I will say this: use a drone for drone work. I use AI all the time to generate very rough ideas, and it is good at that. But it is a far cry from the human mind’s and imagination’s capacity. If you copy+paste the crap straight off of ChatGPT, you deserve what you get. It is a tool, but nothing more. 

With that said, you should still look at some of the top headlines competing with your discipline. You need to know what your competition is, and you are neglecting your work if you don’t. So, do some constructive Googling to figure out what is best. 

Best Practices for Testing and Refining Headlines

Again, the best practice for testing and refining headlines is to create a lot of articles with your takes on good headlines and see how they perform. How else are you supposed to know what works? You can’t! Just like everything else worth doing, you have to put in the reps. How would you know if squats work if you only do them once a month? You don’t. 

How do you know if your free throw is improving if you never practice? You won’t. 

You need to sit down, write the articles, and write the headlines. Figure out which ones bomb (most of them will, at least early on), and then look at the ones that perform better. Take what’s working, and keep working on it. 

Put. 

In. 

The. 

Reps. 

And it takes a lot of time! We live in a microwave society where we want it all done in two minutes. But that isn’t what reaps real rewards. Put in the reps for years and see where it gets you. 

Parting thoughts

The idea that you can parse out headlines away from everything else is silly. Headlines are just a part of the bigger picture. You need to focus on reading a lot and focus on writing a lot. When you are in the habit of reading, you will see improvements. When you are in the habit of writing a lot, you will see lots of improvements. 

If you are a trash-grade writer, your headlines will be trash-grade. But as your writing gets better, so will your headlines. 

There are no easy buttons or quick fixes. Writing good headlines only happens when your content is all good. Until then, don’t worry about anything beyond putting out a ton of material into the universe. 


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