10 Irresistible Headline Templates That Instantly Attract Readers (With Examples)
The headline is the most important part of your article.
That's what successful bloggers say. Some even urge you to spend 80% of your time writing your headline and only 20% on the article itself!
Let it sink in. The most important part.
Why is it so important? Because it can boost traffic and social sharing, or even make your article go viral? Sure, but it's more than that. A good headline
- makes an instant connection with your reader
- captures the essence of your article
- intrigues and sparks curiosity
- presents your writing in the best light
- says: you need to read this NOW.
It sounds complex but don't be intimidated. These proven headline templates will help you capture your readers’ attention in a fracture of a second, guaranteed.
Before we get to the meat-and-potatoes portion of this article, let's review some basic guidelines for writing enticing headlines.
- Be specific. Don't do generic titles like "How To Be A Good Writer." Instead, write something like "An Insanely Easy Way to Become a Better Writer in 30 Days."
- Be helpful. Promise a specific benefit. Tell your audience how your article can make their life easier. Think about what they want to know about. For example, "10 Little Known Ways to Pay Off Your Student Debt and Repair Your Credit."
- Be exciting. No boring headlines! Dazzle. Surprise. Intrigue. Paint a picture. Even if you're writing about a "boring" topic, your headline has to have a spark of excitement. Compare these headlines: "5 Tips For Hardwood Floors" and "5 Hardwood Floor Hacks You Must Try ASAP." Which one stands out more?
When you are trying to get people to click and read your article, what you are REALLY doing is evoking curiosity so fierce that it claws at the minds of a casual browser and forces him to click that link and read that piece.— Bushra Azhar, The Persuasion Revolution
1. Get the […] You Deserve With [...]
- Get the Traffic You Deserve With These Headline Hacks
Who doesn't feel like they deserve more than they're getting? Be it love, respect, money or recognition, we all want and deserve more.
This template speaks to readers on an emotional level, reassuring them that they do in fact deserve the things they want (and here's how to get them).
2. How to [...] Without [...]
- How to Become a Successful Freelancer Without Leaving Your Couch
How-to headlines are a gold mine. There's a gazillion of them out there because people love to learn how to do things, and it's the main reason they go online.
But just because it's common doesn't mean it has to be boring. Try juxtaposing a benefit (you can be a successful writer) with removing an obstacle to that benefit (and you don't have to go outside or talk to people...yikes).
Here's a variation of this headline: How to [...] Even If [...]
3. [...] Is Easier Than You Think
- Writing Irresistible Headlines is Easier Than You Think
This template works because people don't like complications. We seek simplicity. When we have a problem, we want a quick and easy fix.
So anytime you use the words easy, quick, simple, effortless, hacks, or shortcut, you're attracting readers in a subtle but powerful way.
Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist.— Brian Clark, Copyblogger
4. Could You […]?
- Could You Be the Descendant of British Royalty? Here's an Answer
Headlines that speak directly to you and end with a question mark work like a charm because the most interesting thing in the world to you is YOU. Someone who speaks to you about you will attract your attention, 100% of the time.
More question headlines: Would you...? Can you...? Who Else Wants to...?
5. The Biggest Mistake [...] Make
- The Biggest Mistake 90% of New Bloggers Make
This template activates a powerful emotion of fear (what if I'm making this common mistake without realizing it? I need to find out).
Sure, fear-based marketing is a tad manipulative but it works. Research shows that loss aversion is stronger than a desire to gain. In other words, promising a benefit isn't as effective as warning about possible mistakes or losses.
You can exacerbate the effect of the words: rookie mistakes, major mistakes, foolish mistakes, mistakes you don't want to make, scary risks, danger signs, etc
6. Forget [...] Try This […]
- Forget SEO, Try These Headline Formulas That Actually Work
You've probably heard that people fear change. But they also desire change! Such is the contradictory human nature.
This headline is basically a CTA (call to action). You're telling the audience that their old way isn't working and they need to make a change. Out with the old, in with the new!
7. […]? You’re So Not Alone
- Don't Have a Clue How to Write Headlines That Attract Readers? You're So Not Alone
This type of headline comforts as well as attracts. Or more accurately, it attracts because it comforts.
In this case, your reader might feel inadequate because they haven't mastered a particular skill yet. You're saying: you're not alone, most of us don't have a clue.
8. Ways to [...]. [and a sneak peek].
- 44 Ways to Tell Someone You Love Them. #17 Will Make Your Jaw Drop
This is a technique for list-type articles I learned from Pat Flynn. You add a "teaser" at the end of your title, telling your audience that this one part of your article is particularly interesting. Simple but effective, right? You kind of have to know what #17 is.
But if you're using this technique, #17 better be jaw-dropping good. No one likes clickbait.
You could also leave the reader guessing by using an ellipsis:
- 44 Craziest Ways to Tell Someone You Love Them. #1 is...
If your content delivers on your headline's promise, it's not clickbait. Period.— Stefanie Flaxman, Copyblogger
9. Things No One Tells You About [...]
- 10 Things No One Tells You About Having Children
This template works because people love secrets. You're implying that you have insider knowledge that no one else will tell them.
You can play with variations of this headline: secrets, little-known ways, the real truth, unexpected, unspoken, etc.
10. Now You Can [...] Using [...]
- Now You Can Write Eye-Grabbing Headlines Using Simple Templates
By using the word "now" you're telling the reader that you have something new and exciting to say. Whatever you're selling has that fresh just-out-of-the-oven smell, and they should grab it before it becomes old and stale, like yesterday's news.
Other words that convey novelty and urgency: at last, brand new, announcing, introducing, finally, just released.
P.S. I have a secret to tell you
OK, ready? These templates are a great help but writing irresistible headlines isn't just filling in the blanks. It's an art as well as the science, and the more you practice it, the more natural it becomes.
A copy editor for The New York Times Arlene Schneider says that most of her headlines come to her "in a flash," like this one she wrote for a Frugal Traveler column:
- Tonight I’m Gonna Party Like It’s $19.99
So use your intuition, understand your audience, and, most of all, practice, practice, practice. Craft 5-10 headlines for each article you write, pick the one that grabs you the most. See how it does. If it isn't attracting readers, change it. Experiment. Eventually, you will find "the one."
And don't forget to deliver on the promise of your irresistible headline.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Lana Adler