How To Write A Blog Headline That Doesn’t Suck

Updated: November 12, 2016
by Ray Alexander

We all spend a considerable amount of time to write a blog headline. Search for an SEO-friendly keyword, use it in the headline, make sure the sentence is not exceeding the optimal character length. And it's quite easy to forget that the headline should sound interesting enough to get the audience to click open the page. Your headline with long tail keywords may be perfect for search engines but could sound uninviting and boring.

How To Write A Blog Headline That Doesn't Suck

I send out an email to over 8,000+ subscribers (not for this website - sadly) every few days and the open/click rates are more or less the average (open 3-4% / click 0.6-0.7% for this particular campaign). The day Mr. Trump won the presidency election I put "Donald Trump" in the subject line and the rates shot up (open 8% / click 1.7%) - almost doubled.

I just mentioned because it was the latest incident in the past few days... Email marketing is slightly different, you don't have to worry about keywords but you need to avoid using spammy words instead. But you see the relevance here, the title (=headline) matters big-time, in order to get people to open and read inside.

Emotional Marketing Value (EMV)

Not just websites or email but in any form of communications and for any businesses, the key is to reach your potential customers at an emotional level in order to sell. A headline should not only reach the audience's brain, but also should speak to their heart. There are some useful quick & free headline analysing tools available from;

User Effective Words (And A Number)

I have mentioned about some effective words to use previously. ("How To Write Effective Headlines Cheat Sheet") A lot of them are "emotional words" to grab attentions, and therefore it is good if you can simply squeeze them in alongside with the keyword phrase.

However some argue that this old trick is becoming rusty, people are beginning to realise they'll only be annoyed by the content that's not as "amazing" as the headline claims. Say for example, "10 Incredible Solutions To..." are not particularly "incredible", any numbers more than 20 are too many - "25 Awesome Ways To..." half of which are rubbish or common sense but deliberately added just to make the content lengthier.

"...And? What Is It?"

If a headline has an element of mystery, your visitor will most likely to have an urge to click and reveal. It's a headline that makes you think "What!?" "What does that mean?" "Why!? How did that happen?" and so on. I am certainly not a professional copywriter and unless you are, it is not easy to make up a short sentence that contains the keywords AND a mysterious element.

One way to learn is consciously check headlines from other sites. Buzzfeed is good, and there are many other similar sites with headlines that you can get inspirations from. Be it a trashy celebrity gossip or plastic surgery disaster story, if you see a headline and can't help clicking it, that's the moment you can ask yourself why - what has just made you feel like reading the article.

Headline Optimizer Tool

Headline Analyzer Optimizer

A while ago I wrote a review of Thrive Headline Optimizer. This WordPress plugin allows you to split-test your article post with multiple headlines. It will publish the post live with different headlines randomly and analyse the click rate of each version and select the "winner".

* 2022 Update: Thrive Headline Opotimizer is now part of Thrive Themes Suite. For less than $25 per month, you can get a completely customizable WordPress theme as well as 10+ useful plugins for small business owners, content marketers, and bloggers who wish to generate leads and make sales simultaneously. It is a handy, useful collection of vital marketing tools. I would thoroughly recommend it. Check the link below to visit the site.

How To Write A Blog Headline That Doesn’t Suck - Keep Revising

I often revise my blogpost headlines - because they often suck - and change them retrospectively. As long as the permalink does not change, the link that I have already posted to social media and other community threads are still live. I see a dramatic change in open rate after the change sometimes (better or worse, in which case I change it back).

Check back your past blog titles and see what you think first of all. Do they sound alright?

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

ASD. Recovering alcoholic. LGBTQ+ advocate. Semi-retired. 15+ years of web-designing experience. 10+ years affiliate marketing. Ex-accountant. I'm nice and real. Ask me if you need any help in starting up your home business.

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  1. A wonderful post I think every blogger should read.. Great job done, Raymundo!

    It is clear and a good thing to revise your blog post headlines and change them when necessary to avoid them getting suck-that is very true. But after the headlines have been changed you might have posted the permalinks of the old one to your various platforms.

    So my question is how can you change those permalinks too? or do you have to re-post it or share it again?

    1. Hi Eben, thanks for your comment! Some say not to change the permalink (just change the headline and leave the permalink the same), but unless the page is popular by thousands of visitors already, I don’t see it as a major problem and considering the permalink is an alternative option too. As long as the permalink still covers the keywords of the post. You can submit it to Google/Bing webmaster and they’ll pick up the new link pretty quickly. Yes the link posted in social media will be broken so you want to re-share (Google+ will re-connect the page automatically).

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