10 Awesome Headlines that Drive Traffic and Attract Readers

Creating headlines that drive traffic and attracts readers is part art with a dose of science.10 Awesome Headlines that Drive Traffic and Attract Readers

If you don’t learn how to write a good headline then the chances are you will have trouble attracting traffic to your website or blog. In a digital economy that can cost sales, because you need readers to turn up to buy your goods and services.

Newspapers and magazines have been perfecting the art for over a hundred years. Write a good headline and your circulation increases. Headlines are vital not just for newspapers but for advertisements both offline and online.

Even Facebook ads are not immune.

Twitter with only 140 characters is the perfect platform for honing headlines if you want people to click on the embedded link. Online stores need to create banners with headlines that make people click. The skill of headline writing is also vital for those important emails that you send out to your subscribers….if you want them opened.

The power of effective headlines was something I discovered after reading a series of printed marketing guides 20 years ago by Jay Abraham (an American marketing wizard). I implemented some of his ideas for print media and found they worked.

Print or web, the principles have not changed.

Stopping the car

Writing a good blog post or article often starts with the headline and it flows from there. I often stop what I am doing (even a conversation..politely of course) and write down a headline idea. Don’t let that inspiration escape.

Stopping the car has been done on several occasions.

So what are some headline types that work?

Headlines come in all shapes and sizes but some work better than others.

Here are a few types to get you thinking.

1. The “List” headline

These lists can be 5, 10 or mega. The mega list is often guaranteed to produce a ton of traffic. It means you might have to spend longer writing the article but it will be worth it.

Example: “57 ways to Boost your Blog Traffic

2. The “How to”

Everyone is trying to work out how to do something. How to be rich, beautiful or fit. Tell them how and they will not only read the rest but tell their friends about your article and retweet and share on Facebook.

Example of this “How to Get More Retweets on Twitter

3. “Get what you want” headline

People want to be wealthy, successful and healthy. Provide a promise that tells them how to do that and they will feel compelled to read the article.

Example: “5 Ways to Make Money from your Twitter Account

4. “Best and the worst” headline

This is where you either go positive or negative. I have found that negative works best. But you can’t be writing those every day.

Example “30 Things you Shouldn’t Share on Social Media

5. Facts, figures and statistics

Want to get readers to click then provide facts, figures and statistics that they can use at a dinner party or in a conversation.

Example: “21 Awesome Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics for 2013” 

6. Predictions and trends

Predicting the future or  trends will pique people’s curiosity and make them want to look round the corner or over the next mountain.

Example: “7 Marketing Trends you Should Not Ignore

Learn the skill of combinations of the above types and the results may surprise you. Eg. 21 Awesome Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics is a mini mega list with facts and figures in the headline.

Sometimes the inspiration and ideas don’t show up for bloggers and writers. So sometimes having a list of headline categories that work can  be a good reference list.

What are 10 Headlines that drive traffic?

I thought I would take a look in the rear vision mirror and see what headlines have been successful for my blog over the last 12 months.

This exercise is beneficial in a few ways.

  • It helps me understand what types of headlines work. I am often surprised. This posts traffic surprised me recently……5 Cool Apps to Save You from Social Media Overload. Maybe it was the combo of social, apps and mobile that did the trick. 
  • Guides me on what  topics are hot…at the moment (no guarantees for the future on the rapidly evolving web though)
  • Reminds me of the power of words 

Here is the list of my top 10 headlines with the traffic numbers for each.

  1. 35 Mind Numbing YouTube Facts, Figures and Statistics – Infographic – 135,297 views
  2. 20 Awesome Facebook Cover Photos – 103,245 views
  3. How to Get More Likes on Your Facebook Page – 99,289 views
  4. 10 Must Have WordPress Plugins Of 2012 Every Blogger Should Know About – 98,063 views
  5. 48 Significant Social Media Facts, Figures and Statistics Plus 7 Infographics – 90,601 views
  6. 72 Fascinating Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2012 – 88,896 views
  7. 20 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Likes and Engagement – 73,175 views
  8. 10 Powerful Tips to Increase Fan Engagement on Facebook – 72,623 views
  9. Who is Using Twitter? – 57,031 views
  10. The World’s 20 Most Popular Facebook Pages – 49,268

What are my insights after looking at the top ten?

My insights after looking at this list were expected on one hand and surprising on another.

  • The standout is that “Mega lists” rock. Sometimes it feels redundant and like ground hog day. You cannot do it all the time but it works.
  • Another insight is that the “How To” is in the mix and needs to be in your headline toolbox.
  • Facts, figures and statistics” are vital but you need to consider that they will date over time. My goal though with most of my content is to make it evergreen.
  • What surprised me is that using words and phrases like awesome, mind numbing, fascinating, powerful, and significant were in the majority. Bit corny? Who cares if it produces results.

There is something else to pay attention to and that is that the lessons of the past doesn’t always predict the future. You need to take consideration of what is happening today to weave into your headline and topic creation.

Facebook was hot last year and the year before that.  But watching my last few weeks of traffic and sharing data it is becoming ho-hum. Maybe everyone thinks that they know enough and there is nothing much new to learn.

What is hot?

Google+, Twitter, mobile and apps are tempting and topical for readers at the moment. The latest traffic numbers support this.

Don’t spend too much time looking back. Keep testing and observing what is working and respond with content that meets the beat of the street.

What about you?

What are the headline types that have worked for you? Have you been surprised?

Look forward to hearing your stories, experiences and insights in the comments below.

 

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It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

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Comments

  • http://knoxvillebusinesslaboratory.com/ Knoxville Business Laboratory

    Talk about giving the farm away… nice piece Jeff!

    There is truly gold in them thar words!

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Happy to give away some gold.

  • Jim Starr

    Lord knows I tried. I tried several times to get into this article but could tolerate only so many grammatical errors and typos. Anyone who claims to know about effective writing but doesn’t know the basics has little credibility.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Jim for the heads up. Just letting you know that my editor died recently from overwork.
      Still working on the grammar and the typos. :)
      I am a work in progress.

    • Jason King

      Fair point about typos Jim, but I think you’ll find Jeff is one of the most respected and credible sources of Social Media/Marketing around :)

  • Peter Lightbody

    Jeff, I really appreciated this article as I’m grappling with how to write good headlines at the moment. And I always look for advice from people with ‘field experience’.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Glad to hear that I am helping with the grappling. :)

  • Vishal .

    Great article, Jeff! But how about those people who don’t enlist steps/methods for something? What can those people who write on politics, economics and psychology? How can they write headlines which attract more readers?

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Headlines are important for all topics. Jus need to apply your knowledge of the area and the same principles.

    • melissajenna

      While this is great advice, especially for folks working in marketing/social, I was left with the same question. 5 of the 6 examples provided are listicles, and 8 of the top 10 posts are listicles. That format, when applied to subjects of more weight comes off as flippant, or worse, insensitive (ex. “7 Ways Abusive Behavior Affects Children”). I’d say if you’re writing about more formal or sensitive issues, to avoid the listicle format, unless you want to it come off as something posted on BuzzFeed.

      But like I said, this tactic definitely works (and is more appropriate) for social/marketing type posts.

  • Jason King

    Good article with some good pointers that I’ve learned from you a while back. I also find that if I change the wording of my headings that I often get more shares & followers. I target small & micro businesses and if my headings say for newbies, beginners or small businesses this appeals to my audience :)

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Amber King

    Thanks for sharing this Jeff. A good headline is what you need to capture the attention of your readers. I have observed that how to’s and lists get the most attention.

  • Active Web Group

    Great, easy-to-follow pointers.

  • http://bloggersideas.com/ Jitendra Vaswani

    Wow! I really need this. It helps to know these things especially for a blogger like me :) Great stuff! My blog will really benefit from this haha!

  • http://www.shellilittleton.blogspot.com/ Shelli Littleton

    Thank you, Jeff. Very helpful.

  • http://www.fatbit.com/ Sandeep Thakur

    Topic is really useful, Thanks for share your research.

  • http://www.inmediaconcepts.co.nz/ William John

    Thank you for the really helpful post and title ideas. Must try out predictions and trends once

  • Jesse Quist

    Great list Jeff … I always get my great headline ideas in the shower and usually forget them by the time I’m done :(

  • Paul

    Thanks for the valuable info Jeff. Do you think the ‘numbered list style’ (eg “5 ways to”…“20 tricks to”) has become too much of a cliché?

    From the evidence you give, it’s clear that this style still works. However, every time I see one of these headlines I cringe – they’re everywhere, and completely unoriginal to the point where it looks like we’re blindly copying what we’ve been taught to do and nothing more.

    I wonder whether it’s just my personal taste, or whether we’ve done this one to death.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks for the comment and dropping by and asking the question!
      I agree with you that they are overdone and I struggle with the tactic.
      The problem is that they work. It is even creeping into newspapers. Copyblogger .com does a great job of not using lists on their blog.
      It is the tension between beauty (the creative headline) and function… the list post.

  • http://cmoneyspinner.tumblr.com/ Treathyl FOX

    To be honest I wasn’t going to click on the link to this post because it had the number “10” in the title. I’m thinking: “YATT!!! Yet another top ten list.” But I thought again: “You never know. May learn something.” So I’m glad I I did stop by because I did learn something. And you know that Charles Dickens quote from “A Tale of Two Cities”? “It was the best of times, it was worst of times”. It really does grab you!

  • MD Golam Rabbani

    I find list and how to works well. Other headline also good. Thanks for sharing the epic idea.

  • Ashish Jatav

    Very nice information that gave me an idea to write my headings on social media. Really appreciated

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Thanks for the question Umer and the secret is to create the best evergreen content you can and grow your social network distribution and keep building and sharing.
    It’s a marathon. :)