The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Great Headline

When writing an online article, one of the things you need to consider is the title and in particular, the SEO title. Your title is the first thing that readers see in Google or read at the top of your article which makes it of utmost importance for content marketing.

Great attention should be given in crafting titles that will capture your audiences’ attention. One way to create a great title is to optimize it for search engines by focusing on its SEO.

But what makes a great SEO title? In this article, we will cover the various elements that comprise a great SEO title.

5 Secrets to Writing a Great Headline or Title

Writing great titles, whether for blogs, essays, newspapers, etc. is critical to get readers to engage. Follow these five tips and start writing better titles today!

1. Start with a Working Title

Maybe you have a general topic in mind, but haven’t started writing yet. Who knows where your blog post will end up? A working title helps point you in the right direction. Your working title is not going to be perfect the first time, but it will help guide your writing. As you continue to write, iterate on your working title so that it correctly outlines what your post is about.

2. Hook Your Audience

Have you ever noticed those advertisements that grab your attention by luring you to read more? Often a simple sentence with a captivating lead will be enough to grab your audience’s attention. Use a question that hooks the reader and entices them to read further. Reviewing a list of options? Include the number of options in your title (i.e.: 10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Writing, 5 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds Now)

Use Teasers

Use lead-ins such as “How to…” or “10 Ways to…” These sorts of titles beg the reader to read further. Another great trick is to end your title with an ellipses (…) so that your readers are forced to at least start reading your article in order to feel complete.

Be Provocative

Including controversial topics in your titles will certainly get people to read the rest of your article. Who wouldn’t want to read about sex, drugs, and rock and roll? These topics are sure to get readers and even if your blog post doesn’t really relate to any controversial topic, find a way to work some in anyway. Warnings are another great way to get attention.

Use Questions

“Which…?,” “Who…?,” “How…?,” “Should…?,” and “Why…?” are all great ways to begin your title. Not only does it cause the reader to pause, but if you include something controversial in the question, readers will be curious to read how you responded.

 

3. Use Correct Formatting

Use Digits Instead of Words for Numbers

Numbers are easier for people to read

Capitalize Your Titles Properly

No sooner will your blog comments be filled with jokes about how idiotic you are if your titles are not properly capitalized. Don’t be humiliated when your article is broadcast to your thousands of blog followers by checking your capitalization before you post. To check your capitalization, you can use our free tool at Capitalize My Title.

Use the Right Word Count

Readers are more likely to notice short titles as they’re scrolling through lists of articles and other things on their news feeds. Short title are also great for social media (think about Twitter’s 140 character limit). Every word in the title should have a part to play. Short and sweet is best; an ideal length is 6-7 words.

 

4. Do Your Research

A/B Test Your Headlines

Before you make a final selection, you should write at least 8 to 10 headlines per post. Remember, the more effort you put in, the better result you will get. Then test these headlines. If you have software that will allow you to test more than one headline, use it to find the best one. The transformation of your own headlines will help you understand what makes a great headline. Keep playing with your headline combination until you find the best.

Optimize Your Titles for SEO

Although SEO is on the decline, Google searches are still a popular way for readers to find your content. Make sure you do your keyword research anyway to make sure search engines rank your content well and potential readers will actually be captivated by your title. Tools such as our Headline Analyzer and KWFinder can help you select the right keywords for a title. Read the “How to Write an SEO Title” section below to learn more.

Be Accurate and Back Up Your Claims

The advent of the internet brought information to the masses. No longer were experts the exclusive holders of information. Now anyone could learn about any topic with a few clicks. With this easy availability though, anyone could also verify claims made by content creators. Make sure you do your research beforehand to avoid making far-fetched claims that turn out to be inaccurate or your readers will certainly let you know.

5. Make It Catchy

Just because you want to have a professional, accurate title does not mean you can’t make it catchy. Use some of these tips to make your titles sexy, yet classy.

Have Fun with Alliterations

Although subtle, alliterations can play a huge role in making your blog titles catchy. Isn’t a title such as “Follow this Foolproof Formula” or “5 Super Simple Ways…” much more fun to read than “A simple formula to..” or “5 Ways to…”? Sprinkle an alliteration or two into your titles, especially when sharing on social media.

Use Strong Language

Just as a controversial title will lead to more click-throughs, using strong language will bring in the readers. Strong phrases (and, frankly, often negative ones) like “Kick-Ass,” “Things People Hate,” or “Brilliant” pack quite a punch. However, these must be used in moderation. We a great list of power words to use in your headline.

How to Write Emotional Headlines

A headline is an essential part of article writing. It’s the first thing that grabs the attention of readers and tells them what your article is about. If your headlines are not getting clicked and shared, you’re probably not adding emotional elements to it. 

In this post, we will learn how to create emotional headlines that will help you stand out from the rest, but before that, let’s get to know what exactly is an emotional headline.

What is an Emotional Headline?

Emotional headlines are those that include words or phrases that trigger certain emotions and feelings. Emotional words are compelling and influence people to take a certain action. When you use emotional words such as guaranteed, free, easy/simple, and more in your headlines, they entice readers to click on your article. It is often noticed that happy and positive emotional headlines drive more clicks and shares.

Tips to Write Emotional Headlines

Before you start creating content for your website or blog, it’s essential to learn about your target audience. It will help you understand their emotions and feelings, and you will be able to create better headlines.

You can get to know your target readers by creating reader personas, conducting user surveys, and using tools like Google analytics. Once you have information about your readers’ age, gender, location, and income, you can create an image of your audience in your mind and write headlines that will lift their emotional level.  

Study Your Headlines Carefully

Read your headlines closely and notice the words you’re using. Also, observe how many words are used in a headline. Though most headlines are 70 characters or less, you may write a longer headline if it is evoking the emotion of your readers justifiably.

Use a Headline Analyzer tool

If you’re not sure about our headline, you can use a headline analyzer tool. There are many tools out there that can help you evaluate your headline based on different data points. A headline analyzer tool helps you make your headlines easy to read and ensure that they have a perfect score for SEO and Sentiments. With some tools, you can also check the emotional score, or sentiment, of your headline.

If you think your headline is not working as per your expectation, you can make changes to it and repost your content. Some marketers re-post their articles on social media using different headlines to see which work the best. 

Read Your Headlines Out Loud

It is one of the ideal ways to analyze if your headlines are making sense and are emotional enough. You can examine the following things after reading your headlines out loud.

  • What is my instant reaction?
  • How do I feel after reading the headline?
  • How would readers react to the headline after reading it?

Popular Words for Creating Emotional Headlines

Power words and emotional words trigger responses from potential readers. We recommend using at least one or two of these words in your headline. Whether you use these titles on social media, Youtube, email, or other channels, you will definitely get more clicks.

Free

By nature, we people are attracted to the word “free.” We get more alert upon hearing this word. Even people can queue for hours to get free stuff. Therefore, it is a powerful emotional word to be used in a headline.

Example:

Top 5 Free SEO tools

Our Free Guide to Digital Marketing

Easy/Simple

Learning something new can be difficult for everyone. You might have noticed that people often look up the internet to find easy ways to learn new things. If your post reveals some easy ways to do something, you can use this powerful word in your headline.

Example:

 10 Easy Ways to Save Water

Guaranteed

“Guarantee” is an effective emotional trigger word that provides people with assurance, trust, and security that something will work, and if not, they will get compensation.  

Example:

5 Marketing Hacks Guaranteed to Grow Your Business

Today

The word “today” can be used to indicate two things. It tells people that the content is relevant in the current scenario. Additionally, it can be used to create a sense of urgency.

Examples:

  • 5 Things You Should Do Today To Make Your Tomorrow Great.
  • Summer Sales 2020 Ends Today.

Huge 

While the word “huge” doesn’t show an exact quantity, when we see this word, we often take for granted that it is very large. 

Example:

5 Huge Marketing Trends Heating up in 2020

Everything You Need

A lot of people use this phrase in Google when searching for a particular thing. When you use the phrase “everything you need” in your headline, it lets readers know that this is just the article you need.

Example:

Everything You Need to Know About Stock Market  

Save

“Save” is another powerful emotional word in the list that enables people to take action to buy. When we see an offer of buy one get one free or 30% off, we get attracted. Using this word in your headline, you can surely get a large number of clicks.

Example:

5 Tips to Save on Shopping This Christmas

Proven

The internet contains a lot of fake news and information. As a result, many content creators or publishers have started using this emotional word in headlines to let users know that the information they are providing is credible.

Example:

10 Proven Ways to Build Muscle

Instant/Fast

Nowadays, no one wants to waste their precious time. When you use words like “Instant” or “Fast” in your headlines, it states that you’re going to provide a short and straightforward article.

 Examples:

  • 8 Instant Ways to Increase Your Google Ranking
  • 5 Fast Ways to Reduce Belly Fat

Of course, these are not the only emotional words that you can use in your headlines. This is just to give you an idea about how you can use them in headlines. It’s advisable to choose emotional words as per the relevancy of your article’s subject; you can’t use any random emotional word in your headline.

How to Write an SEO Title

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of giving a website or blog the best possible chance of ranking in search engines on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). SEO works not only for web search engines like Google, but also other search engines like those that power Amazon, Pinterest, and even the Apple App Store.

SEO is a method by which to optimize your website content so that it ranks well in Google. For example, if someone searches for “title capitalization,” our website shows up first in Google’s results since we have done a good job at optimizing our landing page.

Since there are billions of websites on the internet, Google’s team can’t read every single one so they have developed algorithms to do the work for them. The company started with something known as PageRank, but that has since been deprecated since it was too easy for marketers to game. Instead, Google’s algorithms now evaluate the content on what’s called E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) and part of that comes with how a website owner describes their website’s content through their titles.

The main benefit of good SEO is that you essentially get free traffic from search engines. In the digital marketing world this is known as organic or natural traffic, and it means that you don’t have to pay for advertising to get traffic to your website or blog. Google and other search engines do the work for you!

By learning how to leverage SEO, you can scale your blog to unprecedented levels with relatively low effort. One of the core components of SEO is the title of your page which sends a signal to Google of what your page is about.

What Is an SEO Title?

Before we dive into the important aspects of an SEO title, let’s evaluate what an SEO title is to begin with. An SEO title refers to the HTML title tag (<title> tag) or simply the page title (Header 1 or <h1> tag). If you look at the search feeds, you will notice that all of the SEO titles are in blue color font.

seo width title result
SEO titles are shown in blue font in Google search results

SEO is an essential factor that any writer should place into their titles. SEO refers to the process of increasing the visibility of their pages in search engine results which leads to free (organic) traffic. When you have high SEO, there is a higher chance that your page will rank higher than having low SEO.

The first step to improving your SEO is making sure that your title tells search engines the name of your article or your page. After all, these are the first things that your audience sees when they enter a search term into Google.

Why Are SEO Titles Important?

SEO titles are important because they help you rank for your opted keyword. Therefore, you must make sure that your focus keyword is in your SEO title. This gives you better a chance of people clicking on your link which leads to more traffic and higher conversions.

SEO titles are an important factor in helping you reach your desired audience. They provide a great first impression of your blog article. If more people click on your title than on your competitors, Google’s algorithms will notice this and reward your page with a higher rank in the search results.

You should note that while having the keyword in your post title help, your title also needs to be attractive to potential customers. Look at these examples:

Title 1: What is an SEO Title?
Title 2: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Your SEO Title

The first example is an average title which would fare well in search engines. However, the second one would get you a higher click-through rate (CTR) because it is more exciting and encourages customers to click to learn more.

What Is the Ideal Length of an SEO Title?

To make a great SEO title, you must also get the length right. Usually, search engines only display the first 50 to 60 characters of your title in the results and a maximum of 600 pixels. When your title becomes very long, search engines might cut it off by placing an ellipsis after the 60th character. Chances are, some important words might end up being cut. See the examples of our pages below:

seo title width
Our main page’s title is a little too wide for Google
seo width title - capitalization rules
Our capitalization rules page renders fully in Google search results.

So why do search engines focus on pixel width versus character or word count? Some characters – such as “M” and “W” – take up more space compared to characters such as “I” or “T.” Be careful of your overall title width and try to avoid extra-wide letters if possible. Moreover, try to avoid all caps in your titles. Not only are they more difficult to read, but they would also take up more space.

How Do You Write an SEO-Friendly Title?

So, what makes a great SEO title? It goes beyond its length. Simply put, it is in the way you write it. Beginners might find it difficult to craft a great title, especially if you do not know the elements that go into a great title. We’ll give you an overview of some of the basic techniques on how to write and improve your page title.

1. Include the focus keywords

A great SEO title includes the main keywords you are trying to rank for. You can use a tool like SEMRush to find keywords that you want to rank for. Start by searching for the topic you have in mind and then review the related keywords to see if there are any that you should use in your title.

Do not forget to include your focus keywords in your title. This is one of the main ways that Google uses to figure out the topic of your page. When you forget to place your keywords, there is a chance that it might not rank at all. As much as possible, place your keywords at the beginning of your title. Moreover, integrate the keywords as naturally as possible so that it would not look forced when your viewers read your title.

Once you have the initial title drafted, run it through our Headline Analyzer to see how optimized it is for SEO. It will give you tips on how to improve your title.

2. Make use of the space

Make sure to make use of the space in the title to convince your viewers to click on your title. Google gives you 600 pixels for your SEO title, so make the most out of it correctly. Make sure that the title you will use would be enticing enough that your readers will be persuaded to go through your article.

3. Incorporate your site name

Just because you have your keywords does not mean that it is already a good SEO title. You should also consider adding your own brand. If people search for a certain keyword and they would see your site name many times, they are more likely to click yours. If you do not include your brand, there is also a chance that Google changes the title for you! So, better to do it yourself.

We recommend placing your site name after your main title. For example on this page, we have made the title “How to Write a Great SEO Title – Capitalize My Title.”

4. Include hooks

Your title is the first thing a reader sees when they visit your site or see a link on social media. You want to make sure it gets your reader excited to read the rest of your article. Providing a strong hook without sounding like clickbait will attract the right readers to your article. The title should still convey what your article is about but in a fun and creative way.

Emotional hooks in titles work best. By using power words that trigger an emotional response from people seeing your headline, you are more likely to attract them to your content.

5. Use web tools to optimize titles

Whenever you need to check how well a title will perform, you can run it through our Headline Analyzer tool which will tell you how well your title performs in terms of readability, SEO, and sentiment.

Another great tool for bloggers is the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. This plugin will show you how well your titles and articles are optimized for SEO and readability based on keyword phrases you give it.

yoast seo title tool
The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin gives you tips to improve your titles and articles

6. Proper capitalization

We may be a little biased on this one, but one of the main factors Google uses to determine how a website should rank is the number of clicks that the website receives when seen in the search results. More clicks and a higher clickthrough rate than other websites on the SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) will bump that particular website higher in the rankings since Google assumes it is more relevant to the search terms the customer entered.

Proper capitalization ensures more clicks. How likely are you to click on a website with a title that looks like this?

this IS ThE BESt WEbsite EVER!

Now that may be an exaggeration, but you know what we mean. So how can you ensure proper capitalization? We recommend using a tool like ours that automatically capitalizes your titles in the proper style formats.

7. Include the title in the <title> and <h1> HTML tags on the page

In order for Google to understand what the important content is on the page, you need to make sure the title is wrapped in so-called <title> and <h1> tags. If you use blog software such as WordPress, your blog posts will automatically contain these tags based on what you enter as the article title.

<title> Tag

The <title> tag is what is rendered in the browser tab of the page. Most blog software will automatically create this tag and it will contain the name of the article followed by the name of the blog. If you built your own website, you will need to make sure this tag is rendering correctly.

title tag - capitalize my title
The <title> tag on our homepage

If you use WordPress, a great plugin called Yoast allows you to modify the <title> tag within the article editing page.

Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress
The Yoast SEO title field

<H1> Tag

The <H1> tag is another important HTML tag that signals to Google what a page is about. Usually your <title> tag will contain your <h1> tag as well, but if not, you want to make sure your <H1> tag also captures the main theme of your article.

What Else Should You Include in an Article for SEO?

Using the right keywords and capitalization are not the only things you need to wary of when trying to write a Google SEO title. Google’s algorithms look at more than just the title to determine what kind of article they should rank.

Other Header Tags

Websites use HTML tags to render their content to users and some of the most important tags are “header tags.” If you look at the source of any page (CTRL + U in Chrome in Windows, Command + U in Safari on Mac), you will see a variety of <h#> tags around any major headings and sub-headings.

These tags not only help sections stand out to a reader on the page, but they also provide useful insight for Google. Since Google can’t “see” what your site looks like, it relies on these header tags to identify the main topics and sub-topics on your page.

Make sure that you include subheadings throughout your articles in addition to the main title.

User Experience

Readers don’t like large sections of text. Instead, many website readers scan through a page of text, first reading the intro, then reading the headings, and finally reading the conclusion, and then finally going back to read any sections they find interesting.

reader viewing website
How a reader scans a website. Source: https://www.creativebloq.com/ux/how-human-eye-reads-website-111413463

To provide the best user experience in your articles, break your text up into paragraphs separated by headers. This makes it easier for readers to skim through the content and find what they are looking for. As with your main title, make sure these subheadings are also SEO optimized and linked to keywords you want to rank for.

7 Types of Headlines That Drive More Clicks

I’m sure you’ve seen those articles that appear at the bottom of news sites or on Facebook and are almost irresistible to click on. I mean, we all want to know about that “Unbelievable New Dietary Trend That Will Make You Lose 50lbs Instantly!”

These titles, as sensational as they are, are called clickbait titles because they entice the reader to click. They are a trick of the trade for digital marketers looking to land an impression on their website.

Whether you want to know how to write your own clickbait titles or avoid clicking on articles that are clearly designed to make you click, we wanted to discuss the various factors that go into clickbait titles.
There are seven main types of clickbait titles that seem to perform very well. A recent study by Venngage found that 46% of titles included at least three of the following techniques.

1. Listicles

Listicles are literally just lists of things such as “top 10 grammar tools” or “30 products on Amazon that you need right now.” Listicles are great at capturing attention and allowing readers to quickly skim through content and deciding what they want to read. Yes, we made this list of traits intentionally so that you would read it.

In fact, listicles receive the second most shares of any content type behind only infographics.

shares by content type

Buzzfeed has done very well capitalizing on this trend. Below you can see how 3/4 of the articles I just pulled up on Buzzfeed are listicles of various lengths.

buzzfeed listicles

2. How Tos

“How To” articles are another classic clickbait. They’re easy to write and readers love learning about new topics or new ways to things they already do. To make a great “how to” article title, think about something that your audience would want to learn more about and make sure your title conveys the instructional nature of your content.

3. Sensational

Sensational titles tend to draw a lot of attention. If something is the “best” or the “largest” how could you not want to read the article?

A popular advertising network called Outbrain is actually responsible for showing most of these sensational headlines. In fact, the three articles below were shown in an article about President Trump on CNN.

clickbait outbrain

4. “You or “I” personal story reference

One of the best ways to connect with your audience is to share a personal story. This is true for both in-person conversations and online interactions. While this technique works for blog articles, it also works wonders for sponsored ad titles.

People love reading stories about others, especially when the story is particularly sensational.

5. Mention of an animal

Cute animals get people excited. There’s no denying that I would click on a title mentioned a cute dog or panda. A title referencing an animal is also likely to contain a cute photos. Who wouldn’t want to click to see more cute photos?
buzzfeed animal

6. Food and pop-culture references

Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook feed and paused because that cake looks so delicious? Buzzfeed’s Tasty has done a great job of creating irrestible-looking videos of delicious recipes. While they do most of their marketing through tantalizing videos, they certainly act as clickbait.

7. An element of shock and awe

Titles that shock the reader are often powerful click baits since readers want to learn more about the shocking story. For example, I’m sure you would read the article titled “Dog runs into burning building to save owner.”

dog saving man from burning building

Bonus: Radical Photos with Slideshow Presentation

Titles aren’t the only things that entice you to click on that fascinating article on your feed. Images and video play a huge role, too. One favorite technique of digital marketers is to show you an odd or shocking photo that makes you stop long enough to click. These photos are often part of a listicle slideshow that requires you to either scroll or click through a number of other photos before seeing the one you clicked on the article to see.

I’ve even encountered slideshows where the photo that was in the advertisement or social media post isn’t even in the slideshow! But it certainly got me to the article.

In fact, you may have gotten to this section wondering when we’d reveal how to triple your traffic! The fact is, we don’t (although creating great SEO and clickbait titles can help) and you just fell for a classic clickbait tactic!

Mix and Match

The best way to make a title that can be considered clickbait is to combine several of the types of clickbait titles listed above. The image from CNN above (and copied below) includes several examples of how multiple clickbait title types can be combined:

clickbait outbrain

  • Far Left Image: “Washington Drivers” makes a personal reference (#4) and sensational (#3 – are they really surprised?).
  • Middle Image: The article is clearly a “how to” (#2) about how to remove fungus. The title also using a shock and awe tactic (#7) referring to toenail fungus.
  • Right Image: Sensational phrasing (#3) in “Puts Air Froce One to Shame.”

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it. These are the tips and techniques which you can employ if you want to rank higher in search engines. It starts with your titles. So, when crafting your next blog post, you should consider how your SEO title would fair. After all, it is about the quality of your work and not about the quantity.

 


Capitalize My Title is a dynamic title capitalization tool used to make sure your titles or headlines use proper capitalization rules according to various style guides include APA, AP, MLA, and Chicago. It also counts your words and checks for grammar issues.

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