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The Secret Formula to Writing Killer Headlines - Guaranteed.


Written by:
2010/03/25 07:29 AM RssIcon

Your headline is the only thing that matters on your blog.

extraextra Well at least for the first few seconds. That's all you have to convince someone to actually click through and go ahead and read your blog post. Writing an effective, enticing and irresistible headline is a skill and art that you and I need to develop if we want our blogs to kick on to the next level.

You want to grab the attention of your readers. Get them excited about the content to follow. SO how do you make yourself, your blog, and your blog title stand out from the rest?

Here are some tips on writing those killer headlines.

Write your headline/title last

Don’t try to write your copy around your headline. Write your post first, then you can develop a headline that encompasses your whole post. This way you will have killer content and a magnificent headline.

Use your best keywords

Organic search engine is all about SEO and keywords. Find your best keywords in your article and try to use that in your headline. Use only the best one or two. Any more and you water down the power of your headline.

Fulfil a human need

Before you write your article before you write your title, you need to know what motivates your readers. What their needs are. Fulfil that and they will be putty in your hands.

According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, human behaviour is always the result of one or more of five basic needs.

  1. Physiological - Basic human needs include hunger, thirst, shelter, clothing and sex.
  2. Safety (Security) - Human need for physical, emotional and financial security.
  3. Social (Affiliation) - Human need for love, affection, companionship and acceptance.
  4. Esteem (Self Esteem) - Human need for achievement, recognition, attention and respect.
  5. Self-actualization - Human need to reach their full potential.

Ever wonder why headlines like “How to make money fast while blogging” works so well. Because it fulfils the human need for financial security. Work that into your title.

Size matters

But not in a way that you think. Many bloggers think that bigger is better. Nothing can be further away from the truth. Headlines should stand out, but still be readable. They should be in a comparable scale as with the rest of the copy font size.

Don’t end in a period

As children we were taught at school that a period signifies the end of a sentence. The end of a thought. We carry this teaching through to our adult years If we read a headline or title that ends in a period, our brains say that that's the end. We need go no further. However, where there is no period, we logically want to see what's next.

Use a headline formula that works

Smashing Magazine has made page one of Digg more than 200 times, frequently using the same headline formula (number + adjective + design-related item + sticky message – i.e. 83 Beautiful Wordpress Themes You (Probably) Haven’t Seen).

Here are some other formulas that have been proven to work

  • Little Known Ways to *blank*
  • Here is a Method that is Helping *blank* to *blank*
  • Who Else Wants *blank*?
  • The Secret of *blank*
  • Get Rid of *problem* Once and For All
  • Here is a Quick Way to *solve a problem*
  • Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]
  • [Do something] like [world-class example]

The different types of titles

Below are several different formulas used by professional copywriters to write
compelling headlines.

  • How to - "How to Increase Your Readers By 500% "
  • Question - "Are You Sick and Tired of Working For Someone Else?"
  • Command - "Write better blog posts"
  • News - "Announcing a Brand New Breakthrough in Blogging"
  • Testimonials - "How I Got My Readers To Comment On My Blog"
  • Reasons Why – “5 Reasons to Comment on Other Blogs”
  • Guarantee - “Double Your Income Within the Next 12 months -- Guaranteed!"

Use power words in your titles

Remember that old ditty, “Sticks and stones can break my bone but words will never harm me”. What a lie that was. The pen is definitely mightier than the sword. Choosing the right words can turn your post into a wild fire viral blogging phenomenon.

According to a Yale University study, the following words are the most powerful words in the English language.

  • Money
  • Discovery
  • Save
  • Easy
  • New
  • Love
  • Health
  • Proven
  • You
  • Results
  • Guaranteed
  • Safety

Check out my post entitled 101 Magnificent Words Guaranteed To Make Your Title Outstanding. to find some more magical powerful words to use in your title.


Writing headlines is more art than science. The best path is to consider it an iterative process, experiment with different structures, study your analytics and find what works for you.

But remember this, first impressions are the only impression. You only have one chance to convince people that your post is a must to read. You have less than 2 (two) seconds to do so.

So write those killer headlines.

Can you come up with some awesome, magnificent, audacious headlines? Share them with us.

What has been your best headline so far?

Related Reading:

7 Tips on How to write effective blog titles that solicit traffic

101 Magnificent Words Guaranteed To Make Your Title Outstanding.

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