Catchy article titles result in higher click-through rates (CTR) from the search results. And CTR from the search results is a ranking factor: the more people who click on your SERP snippet, the higher your page will rank.
So your title is arguably the most important part of your article.
But how do you write article titles that readers will click on?
That's what you'll discover in this article: 21 formulas for writing catchy article titles that readers click on.
1. Use Numbers
This is the key ingredient in writing catchy titles for articles: use numbers!
Numbers produce order out of confusion (God made the world in 7 days). They also promise something people can read quickly, as in a list post:
- 14 Reasons WordPress is the Best Content Management System
- 7 Ways to Reach Position Zero with Your Next Blog Post
- The 15 Best Formats for Exit Intent Popups
2. Include the Word 'Guide'
Guides usually cover a topic from A to Z, so the word ‘guide’ suggests your article is authoritative:
3. Create a Knowledge Deficit or 'Curiosity Gap'
One way to write catchy titles for articles is to create a curiosity gap. In other words: don't give away your game plan in the title.
Whenever you insert the word ‘the’ before a number, it implies that these are not just any tips but particular tips that people need to know:
- The 7 RankBrain Tips That Will Make Your Pages Rise in the SERPs
- The 5 Share Triggers That Tripled My Opt-In Rates in 7 Days
- The One Thing You Need to Know Before Starting a Podcast
4. Solve a Problem
When people find your pages in the Google search results, it means they have a problem they’re trying to solve.
Use the word ‘How’ in your title and you immediately signal to the reader that you’re about to solve a problem:
- How Accelerated Mobile Pages Can Triple Your Traffic in 7 days
- How Content Locking Tripled My Subscribers in 21 Days
- How I Re-Engaged with 673 Inactive Subscribers with Just One Email
5. Avoidance of Pain
Avoidance of pain is an even stronger motivator than the pursuit of pleasure.
If your title suggests your reader could avoid loss, cost, or pain, you’ll get a click:
- Why Your Site Speed Could Be You Business's Biggest Enemy
- Why Interstitials Could Be Hurting Your SEO and Costing You Traffic
- 7 Reasons Your Opt-In Form Is Turning People Away and Costing You Subscribers
6. Change The Reader's Life
We’re all looking for something that will change our lives.
And it doesn’t have to something huge:
- How Topical Authority will change the way you think about SEO
- The Little-Known Formula That Will Change the Way You Write Blog Posts
- One Simple Technique That Changed How I Do Influencer Outreach and Got Me 3K Shares in 7 Days
7. Fear of Failure
One of our greatest fears is the fear of failure, so if you want to write catchy titles for articles, you should consider invoking fear of failure.
Unfortunately, it motivates people more than the desire for success:
- Why Most People Will Never Succeed with Social Media
- Why Your Social Media Campaign is Failing and What to Do About It
- Why Your Competitors Are Beating You in the Search Results
8. Use Negatives
You would think we are more attuned to positives than negatives.
But the reverse is true: our survival instinct picks up on negatives much quicker than positives. That's why the newspapers are full of bad news - bad news sells.
Here are some examples:
- What Wikipedia Can't Tell You About Roundup Posts That Go Viral
- The 7 Worst Elevator Pitches of All Time
- When Not to Use the Truncated Tease Technique on Your Landing Pages
9. Use The Unusual Insight
Catch your readers by surprise by offering them an unusual insight:
- What the Amish Can Teach You About Lead Magnets
- What Cheese Rolling Can Teach You About Understanding User Intent
- 17 Things Sumo Wrestlers Know About List Building
10. Use Statements Posing as Questions
Questions grab our attention, even when the question is actually a statement:
- Why Your Site Speed Could Be Killing Your Business
- Why Expanded List Posts Get More Social Media Shares Than Any Other Post Type
- Why Pain Points Are the Key to Better Conversion Rates
11. Make a Prediction
We’re all worried about the future.
Even if what we’re doing now is working, will it still work in 5 years’ time?
- Where Share Triggers are Headed in the Next 5 Years
- The Future of Email Marketing Beyond 2018 - 5 Predictions You Need to Know
- 7 Reasons SEO Will Radically Change in The Next 5 Years
12. Offer Some Help
We all want to be helped and nurtured.
Use the word ‘Help’ in your title
- How Topic Modelling Can Help You Write Better Blog Posts
- How Sneeze Pages Can Help Reduce Abandonment and Strengthen Your Sales Funnel
- How Videos Can Help Increase Dwell Time and Improve Your Rankings
13. Use FOMO
This is a huge trigger for human behaviour.
Fear of missing out is so basic to human nature that it has its own acronym. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is simply the fear that others are getting something you’re not:
- Why Everyone is Doing Podcasts and You Should Too
- Why Pro Bloggers Don't Show Share Counts Anymore (and You Shouldn't Either)
- Why Smart Bloggers Are Switching to Accelerated Mobile Pages
14. Use Insider Information
We all want to get ‘inside’ information that is not available to the masses:
- 13 Unexpected Ways Site Structure Can Affect Your Ranking
- 7 Little Known Ways of Reducing Bounce Rate on Your Blog Posts
- 5 Ways to Get More Subscribers That Would Probably Never Occur to You
15. Use 'Secrets The Experts Are Not Telling You'
Most people believe that the experts never share their best secrets:
- 17 Things About Ranking Signals the Experts Won't Tell You
- 5 Things About Keyword Research the Pros Don't Want You to Know
- Three Email Marketing Tips People Are Keeping to Themselves
16. How To Do This Without Doing That
This catchy title technique combines a positive and a negative:
How To Do (Positive) Without Doing (Negative)
This technique has the added benefit that it allows you to include a secondary keyword in your title:
- How to Remove Dirty Backlinks Without Jeopardizing Your Domain Authority
- How to Get More Paying Customers Without Spending a Dime on Advertising
- How to Build Authority Within Your Niche Without Feeling Like a Fraud
17. Be Controversial
The Internet is swamped with free content.
Standing out from the crowd is a challenge facing every blogger. One way to stand out is to be controversial or counter-culture:
- Why Most SEO Experts Are Wrong About the Future of Organic Search
- The Big Mistake Most Content Marketers Make Every Time They Hit 'Publish'
- 7 Reasons I Don't Publish Blog Posts Anymore
18. Things I Wish I Had Known
We all know that learning from other’s mistakes can save us months, if not years, of frustration:
- 5 Things I Wish Somebody Had Told Me When I Started Freelance Writing
- 7 Things About Content Penalties I Wish I Had Known Before I Got Slapped
- 3 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started my YouTube Channel
19. I Did It and So Can You
This is one of the most encouraging messages anyone in business will ever receive:
- How I Got to Position Zero on Google and You Can Too
- How I Got 50K Followers on Twitter and You Can Too
- How I Got Published on Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur and You Can Too
20. Things You Didn't Know
Readers have to decide in a split second whether this is stuff they already know.
With this technique, you’re telling them up-front that they don't know it:
- 5 Facts About Long Tail Keywords You Didn’t Know
- 13 Strategies You Didn't Know for Getting People to Like Your Pinterest Pins
- 7 Techniques You Never Heard of For Getting More Twitter Followers
21. Tools You Need
We’re all looking for tools to save us time or make us more successful:
- 17 Tools You Need for Successful Content Marketing
- 11 Plugins Every WordPress Blogger Should Be Using
- 5 SEO Tools I Couldn't Do Without
For most bloggers the title of their blog post is an afterthought.
But it should be where you invest most of your creative energy. Because it will determine whether people read the rest of your article or not.
Here again are the 21 formulas for writing catchy article titles:
- Use Numbers
- Include the word 'Guide'
- Create a Knowledge Gap
- Use the Word 'How'
- Invoke Loss or Cost
- Change the Reader’s Life
- Invoke the Fear of Failure
- Use Negatives
- Offer Unusual Insights
- Use the Statement Posing as a Question
- Offer Predictions
- Give the Reader Help
- Invoke Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
- Offer Restricted Information
- Present the Problem and the Solution
- Be Controversial
- Things I Wish I Had Known
- I Did It and You Can Too
- Things You Didn't Know
- I Did It and You Can Too
- Tools You Need
This post was most recently updated on July 10th, 2020