Powerful blog post titles stop people in their tracks and make them think: "Wait, this looks interesting - I'm going to see what this about".
And that's all you need to do with your title.
It sounds easy. But it's not. As I'm sure you know, if you ever spent an hour or so going through one title after another.
In this article, you'll discover 13 formulas for writing powerful article titles. Keep this article handy and refer to it next time your stuck for a catchy title that pulls your readers in.
1. Make It Unique
It’s a basic principle of human psychology that the more rare or unique something is, the more we value it.
This applies to objects (like gold and diamonds) and it also applies to information.
Here are some examples of headlines that emphasize uniqueness:
2. Use Numbers
SiegeMedia reports a 20% increase in CTR for blog post titles containing numbers.
- containing a number
- addressing the reader
- containing ‘How to’
- Normal headline
- Containing a question
Headlines containing a number, by a long chalk:
Watch This Video by Neil Patel on How To Write Catchy Titles For Your Blog Posts (3 mins 30 secs)
3. Use Action Words
Use strong, punchy, action verbs such as:
4. Use Powerful Adjectives
Verbs are one thing, but adjectives can also create a powerful response in a headline.
5. Use Emotional Trigger Words
What are trigger words?
They’re words that are known to produce an emotional reaction in your reader.
Here’s a list of 14 trigger words put together by marketing expert Neil Patel:
6. Use Negative Words
Outbrain examined 65,000 paid link titles that ran in Outbrain’s paid link network between April and July 2012.
They found that average click-through rate on headlines with negative superlatives (e.g. ‘never’ or ‘worst’) was 63% higher than headlines with a positive superlative (e.g. ‘always’ or ‘best’).
Like it or not, the fact is, we’re driven by fear of negative consequences. As a species, we’re programmed to look for danger and avoid it.
And that’s why negatives work so well in headlines.
Here are some that have been proven to work well in blog titles:
7. Use the Word 'You'
Addressing the reader directly is a classic attention-grabbing technique for blog post titles.
And the key element in this kind of headline is simply the word ‘You’ or ‘Your’:
- Here’s What You Need to Know About Buying an Aftermarket Domain
- Get the Most Out of Your Next Facebook Ad by Following These 6 Rules
- 15 Expert Ways to Start Your Online Business
8. Emphasize Value
Use words like ‘will’, ‘to’, and ‘so’ in your blog title – these kinds of words promise value from reading your article:
- 7 Techniques that Will Turn Your Blog Readers Into Buyers
- 15 Ways To Avoid Blogger Burnout
- How To Get More Backlinks So You Can Rank Higher in Google
9. Create a Curiosity Gap
A curiosity gap is where you leave the reader wondering if there's something in the article they need to know. Here are some examples:
- Discover Why You Should Never Eat This Before Flying!
- Are You Playing Fair With Your Wife?
- Why You Don’t Want To Drink The Pool Water
These are extreme examples. But all ‘how to’ headlines are curiosity-based.
One very effective headline technique for arousing curiosity is to use the word ‘the’ or ‘these’, as in:
- Discover The Twitter Strategy That Gave Me 10K New Followers In One Month
- Are You Using These Best Performing List Building Techniques?
Why does this create curiosity?
Because it implies that there's a specific thing or things and if you don’t have it, or you're not using it, you may be missing out.
10. Use a Maximum of 65 Characters
Try to keep your title under 65 characters so that it doesn’t get cut off in the Google search results (that inludes spaces and other punctuation).
Google uses a pixel width of 520 pixels, so the actual number of characters in a Google SERPs headline will vary slightly.
Here’s an example:
The blog post title is: “Want To Increase Website Traffic? Here Are 134 Website Traffic Tactics”.
But the title got truncated after 63 characters:
11. Use The Keyword In Your Blog Title
This is fairly obvious - after all, when a searcher is scanning the results on Page #1, they are looking for the keyword they just typed in to Google.
But there's a related point that a lot of bloggers don't get - never use a word in your title that no one is ever going to search on.
For example, I doubt that anyone is going to search for 'kickass' recipes for spaghetti bolognese.
That's wasted space that could have been used for a keyword that someone is actually going to search for (e.g. 'quick', 'tasty', 'cheap', 'best', 'popular', 'classic' etc).
Same goes for words like 'surefire', 'killer', 'ninja' etc.
12. Write At Least 25 Headlines For Every Post
Good titles don't come the first time.
As Upworthy says:
- You Will Write Some Really Stinky Headlines
- #24 will suck. And then #25 will be a gift from the headline gods
- Accept that not every headline will be perfect
- Then write 25 headlines
13. Use One of These Headline Formulas
Here are 13 tried and tested formulas for writing catchy article headlines:
We’re all familiar with the phrase “no pain, no gain”. Well, this type of title says you can have the gain without the pain:
[Number] Secrets To [Desirable Result] Without [Painful Process]
- 12 Secrets to Keeping Employees Happy Without a Raise
- 7 Secrets to Saying No (And Not Feeling Guilty About It)
- 18 Secrets to Make Your Food Healthier Without Even Trying
- 4 Secrets to Lose Weight Without Dieting
[How To Do This] Without [Negative Outcome/Process]
- How To Write Like An Expert Without Sounding Like A Jerk
- How to Build 100 Quality Links Without Writing Fresh Content
- How To Discipline Your Kids Without Yelling or Smacking
Formula #2: Little Known Ways In Record Time
This formula takes advantage of our love of numbers. It combines two number values in one title: it promises a certain number of ways to achieve something in a certain number of days:
[Number] Little Known Ways to [Desirable Result] In [Number] Days/Weeks/Months
- 8 Little-Known Ways to Find New Prospects on LinkedIn
- 12 Powerful Yet Little-known Ways to Prepare Your Child for Prep Success
Formula #3: Everyone Should Know This!
Deep down we all suspect that we should know more than we do. This title formula plays on that fear:
[Number] Things Everybody Ought to Know About [Keyword]
- 10 Things Everybody Ought to Know About Driving in the Rain
- 3 Things Everybody Ought to Know About a Last Will and Testament
- 5 Things Everybody Ought to Know Before Visiting the USA
Formula #4: Lessons I Learned
This kind of title works well because we all want to learn from other people’s experience (it could save us a lot of time and money):
[Number] Lessons I Learned From [Keyword]
- 7 Important Life Lessons I Learned In 5 Years of Blogging
- 29 Lessons I Learned In Seven Years Of Living Abroad
- 7 Lessons I Learned From A Year Of Ethical Shopping
Formula #5: How To Survive Your First Anything
This kind of title is great for articles about an occupation. It works well because it suggests you're in for a 'baptism of fire' unless you read the article:
How to Survive Your First [Keyword]
- How to Survive Your First 3 Months of Blogging
- How to Survive Your First Year As a Teacher
- 8 Tips To Survive Your First Fire-fighter Shift
- How To Survive Your First Year As A Personal Trainer
Formula #6: Ten of These About That
This is the classic listicle title and can be used on virtually any topic you can think of:
[Number] of [Something] About [Something]
- 10 Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts
- 23 Secret iPhone Tips and Hacks That You Didn't Know About
- 7 Beach Hacks for Parents Who Hate to Struggle
Formula #7: What This Can Teach You About That
The kind of title arouses curiosity by taking two completely unrelated things and saying that one of them can give you insights into the other:
What [Something] Can Teach You About [Something]
- What Table Top Gaming Can Teach You About Course Design
- What Anthony Bourdain Can Teach You About Succeeding In Business
- 7 Things Your Day Job Can Teach You About Entrepreneurship
- What Learning Piano Can Teach You About Success In Business And Life
Formula #8: Adverb + Keyword + Promise
The key in this kind of title is the attention-grabbing adverb followed by the promise:
[How To] + [Adverb] + [Keyword] + [Promise]
- How You Can Effortlessly Master Colour In Less Than 10 Mins!
- How To Easily Set Up a Blog Site In Less Than 15 Minutes!
- How To Quickly Tell If Someone Is Lying To You & Never Be Deceived Again
Formula #9: Number + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
This formula is similar to the previous one. The only difference is that the adverb is replaced by an adjective.
[Numbers] + [Adjective] + [Target Keyword] + [Promise]
- 10 Small Steps You Can Take Today to Improve ADHD Symptoms
- 5 Simple Ways To Tell If a Used Car Is a Dud Without Looking Under the Hood
- 7 Quick SEO Hacks That Will Get You On To Page #1 of Google
Formula #10: Powerful Adjectives Plus Nouns
The star performer in this kind of title is a powerful adjective that appears right at the beginning of the title:
[Powerful Adjective] + [Keyword Phrase]
- 25 Awe-Inspiring Examples Of Branding, Identity and Logo Designs
- 10 Painstaking Lessons Learned from My Battle with Depression
- 7 Brilliant Strategies To Promote Your Blog For Free
Formula #11: How To Do Something Even If…
This kind of title grabs our attention because it tells us we can achieve something against the odds (aren't we all battling the odds?):
How to [Blank] (Even If [Common Obstacle])
- How To Stay Motivated Even If Your Co-Workers Aren't
- How to Be Confident Even If You Don't Like The Way You Look
- How To Stand Up To Bullies Even When You're Terrified
Formula #12: How To Do It Like a Pro
This title formula takes something or someone we aspire to be like, and says we can do it like they do it (of course we can!):
[Do Something] Like [World-Class Example]
- How to Cook Vietnamese Like Anthony Bourdain
- How to Stop Sounding Stupid and Write Like a Pro
- 8 Simple Ways to Train, Eat, and Exercise Like an Athlete
Formula #13: Quick Ways To Solve a Problem
We’re all in a rush and we all want quick results – that's why this title formula works so well:
[Number] Quick Ways To [Solve A Problem]
- 5 Quick Ways to Ground Yourself When Anxiety Hits
- 7 Quick Ways to Connect With Anybody
- 3 Quick Ways to Tell If Its Love and Not Lust
Formula #14: Double The Benefits, Double The Power
This kind of title promises that a certain technique will produce a concrete result. It’s effective, because we’re all looking for results:
How To [Do Something] and [Achieve Something]
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- How To Write Better Blog Posts and Get Twice The Traffic
- How To Get Twice As Many Twitter Followers in Half The Time
Formula #15: X and Y Keyword Will Get You Z
Two short adjectives combined with your keyword and a promise produce an irresistible title:
[Adjective] & [Adjective] [SEO Keyword Phrase] That Will [Highly Desirable Promise of Results]
- 7 Quick & Easy Lawn and Garden Fixes That Will Wow Your Weekend
- 13 Quick And Easy Recipes That Will Make You Go Vegan Like Beyoncé
- 5 New and Useful Kitchen Products You Can Buy On Amazon
Now that that you know how to write powerful titles that pull your readers in, make sure the title of your next blog post is an absolute zinger!
But don't stop there:
Why not go back over those 50 or 60 blog posts you've already published and give their titles a makeover?
You might be surprised at the results!
This post was most recently updated on July 6th, 2020