Headline Writing: 4 + 1 Smart Ways To Write Clickable Headlines

 “Get in or you’d lose out!”      Write clickable headlines

That was the headline I read in a trade magazine a week ago.

The day was Saturday and as usual, I was with my family in our big house.

Even though I don’t live with them again, I still make out time to catch up with some family gossip. Lol!

The headline above got me thinking – get in or you’d lose it.

You already know that the headline is the most important element in content marketing.

No matter the content type you’re assigned to, you need to get the headline right or lose out.

I think I understand the last phrase in that headline. I know you want more targeted traffic, clicks and income? Well, stop looking at those and concentrate on the headline.

So, how do you write clickable headlines? Listed below are five smart ways to get it right. I’ve been using these headline styles. Enjoy…

1.    Initiate a story quietly (I.S.Q.)

This might seem strange to you, right? You know that storytelling works when you write content especially blog posts.

But how can you bring story into the headline? Well, the truth of the matter is, every story has a strong hook.

That hook may not be funny, interesting or spectacular. Your role as a content marketer is to breathe life into it.

When you start a headline with a story, it’d have strong influence on the reader. I’ve studied my readers and I know that storytelling not only captures their minds, but it also justify their love for you.

Here is a shock: “How to” headlines are story-based. They’re like tutorials but they’ve the elements of a story in-between the lines.
Example: “How I make money from my blog every month.”

2.    Evoke curiosity (E.C.)

Can you evoke curiosity in the headline?

Of course you can. The truth is, human beings would always adapt to new things.

Blog readers want to dare – to take that adventure and see what comes out of it.

Oftentimes, when you want the headline to go viral and suck free traffic to your blog, use curiosity to entice people. No…, you’re not using a trick here. You’re simply capitalizing on the behavioral patterns of people.

So, how can you evoke curiosity? Let’s assume you made a video on how to build a list of 1000+ in 30 days. On the headline, arouse curiosity like this, “Discover how I got 1003 Subscribers in 30 Days.”

There is so much to that headline, which makes it click-worthy.

3.    Ask a close-ended question (A.C.Q.)

Basically, there are two types of question you can ask readers in the headline 1). Open-ended question 2). Close-ended question. Both types of questions have their roles especially in copywriting where selling is the ultimate goal.

But when you’re building a community with your blog, you should avoid open-ended questions.Why? Because it exposes the reader to several alternatives, which can complicate issues.

When you initiate a call to action, it must be specific, with few options to choose from.

Ideally, don’t ask readers to subscribe to your list, at the same time, asking them to buy your product.

It’s too complicated and the conversion rate for both can suck. Instead, ask a close-ended question and you’ll get the right response. See examples below:

How Do You Make Money Online?

Do You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?

The first headline is an open-ended question. The click-through rate would be lower than the second headline, where you made your point clear.

Also, readers who click on the second headline can be more targeted to your affiliate offer.

4.    Hack your reader’s mind (H.R.M.)

What if your readers were sleeping and the headline is the only way to wake them up, how do you achieve that? I use a simple strategy known as “headline hack.”

It’s a simple, but effective way to write clickable and benefit-driven headlines. So, how do you hack another person’s mind?

Here’s how it works:

You need to assume that your readers have a particular thing, or have attained a particular level. So, instead of sympathizing with them, you’d simply add more value to what they already have (your assumptions about them).

Let’s assume that your blog readers consist of beginners and intermediates. Of course, common sense tells me that their daily traffic falls within 20 – 1000.

Let’s bring it to the headline now. If your headline reads, “How to drive more traffic to your blog”, you might get clicks, but interestingly, you haven’t hacked your reader’s mind yet. See how you can write it instead:

7 Simple Ways To Drive 500 – 985 Free Targeted Traffic Easily

Now, look at the headline critically. What do you see? Would you click and read it? If yes, understand that I’ve just hacked your mind right now. Go and do likewise!

5.    Challenge the status quo (C.S.Q.)     headline writing

The noise about social media marketing and guest blogging is getting hotter by the day.

As a content marketer, you don’t want to follow the crowd.

You want results.

Twitter and Facebook can be a great source of free traffic to your blog, but if you don’t know how to market on these platforms, it’s a waste of time.

So, how does it apply to your headline writing?

By now, you should know that 98% of your readers are guest blogging or making plans to start contributing to other blogs.

The lazy path bloggers take

Now, instead of focusing on their blogs, bloggers want to steal another person’s traffic through guest posting. Why don’t you write a powerful headline to challenge this lifelong status quo?

What people hold dear to their hearts may not necessarily be true. That’s why we’re writers – to help our community see the shining light, and not follow the crowd.

Let me show you a simple example: A while ago, I wrote a post on this blog and it went viral, sending more than 500 fresh subscribers to my email list. What’s the headline like?

6 lies about guest posting that’s killing bloggers’ creativity

Make sure you’ve facts and figures to back up your claims. But rest assured, when you challenge the status quo in your headline and content, people would click it, read it, share it and bookmark it. If I did it, you too can!

Can I click your headline?

Do you think I can click your headline if I see your latest blog post? Are you convinced it’s got the right elements to win my love?

If you aren’t convinced about it, I suggest you go back and review not only the headline, but the introduction (lede) and the subheads.

But before then, leave a comment below, share your headline tip and TAKE ACTION. Will ya?

Photo Credit: Istockphoto

24 thoughts on “Headline Writing: 4 + 1 Smart Ways To Write Clickable Headlines”

  1. we all know content is the king as per seo guidelines but killer headlines also attract traffic on blog.This is my first time into your blog and learn a lot about traffic building.Thanks…will try to visit more often to learn something more from you.

  2. It’s a great post Michael
    You do not mind if I add one backlink on your blog instead.I’m very happy if you agree.
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  3. Michael what exactly is content marketing? i have heard it so many times but what is the esssential difference between normal blogging and content marketing

    • Hi George, blogging is a part of content marketing. You don’t have to be confused when you hear and read so much articles on these topics. Content marketing is all about understanding your audience and creating valuable content (video, blog posts, product reviews, podcast, membership site, ecourse, newsletters and so on), to address their problems. Content marketing is about solving problems, which would in enhance your credibility and get people to buy from you willingly.

      See this line:

      Traditional advertising tends to force or cajole people to buy, content marketing first educates, informs, inspires and attracts the right prospects. Once you become a content marketer, repeat business becomes the PRIORITY. I hope this explanation has cleared the stumps off your way?

  4. Hello Michael,

    A great post to teach newbies in writing. I love this post and would like to share with my friends. Writing a catchy headline is not easy. It should be spontaneous. When I have to writing something like this, I always try to correlate with subject and the relevance. Never do I give any irrelevant and meaningless headline


  5. Hey Michael,

    thanx for this very useful informations.

    Personally, I alway try to write several headlines for one blog post, and then choose the one I found to be the most appealing.

    And then, I leave the post and the headline rest some time, and go back to it to see if I’m still happy with it. If not I change it again.

    It’s really not always easy to find a good headline, but it’s like everyhting, you need to learn it!

    Thanx a lot again

    • I agree with you. It’s not really easy trying to write a good headline, but it’s doable. Just like you, I also spend quality time brainstorming good ideas for my headline. In fact, I spend more time in the headline. Thanks for your comment.

  6. a really great post. your point on starting a story and then the second point to making the user keen to read it completely is really great. every user wants this in every story content they read, it makes reading interesting and also nice. the other points you give here are also great. thanks for this really informative post as always. a nice post.

  7. I’ve finally learnt how to write good headline – especially in “arousing curiosity.” It’s definitely the best way to hook people and your example is perfect.

  8. Mike,

    Thumbs up for the great post!!

    This is another way to write epic shit headlines… You know what?

    I’m really glad I’m a subscriber to your blog.

    God bless


  9. I like the point on “hack your reader’s mind.” Just like you explained, we need to use emotional words when writing headlines. It can always lead to an increased clicks. I’d like you to write a blog post about subheads. I really would like to know about it.

  10. That’s a great post again Michael. The importance of headlines can never be over-emphasized and unlike generic articles in the blogosphere, yours is different. Thank you for being there for us.

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