How to Write a Headline: 4 Steps to Total Engagement

How to Write a HeadlineHeadlines are the single most powerful factor in determining whether a user clicks on your blog post or scrolls right past it. So how can you write headlines that catch the eye of your target audience and bring traffic to your blog or website?

Read on to discover how to write a headline and the four key steps you should take to ensure your headlines are the hook you’ve been looking for:

1. The length

A classic study from KISSmetrics unveiled that readers only absorb the first and last three words of a headline. This means that you’ll need to keep it short and sweet.

Helping users to process the jist of your headline easily is your most important job here. Remember that it’s the first and last words that count most, so that’s where you should place your keywords.

The length of your headline will also depend on its goal. For emails, headlines of around 50 characters are most efficient. Social media can tolerate longer and more bizarre, content-relevant headlines. Search engines favor headlines that are no longer than 70 characters and rich in keywords.

2. The look

When it comes to the look of your headline, you’ll need to choose the right typeface and settle on your own in-house rules for capitalization – using title case or sentence case lettering for your headline is entirely up to you.

Choose a typeface with a strong visual impact. Use a larger font for headlines to make them visible. When picking colors, stick to black – it’s usually the safest choice.

Remember that while centered headlines are most powerful visually, left-centered are considered more conservative and formal.

3. The tone

When writing your headline, be as explicit as you can – readers are attracted to headlines that clearly state what kind of knowledge they’re going to receive by reading the post. Lists and numbers are a perfect start.

It’s often a good idea to address the reader as ‘you’ to personalize the tone, grab their attention and help them better relate to your content. Use expressions like ‘that will’, which already promise a value attached to the post.

Avoid jokes and puns – they may not be as readily understandable when your post is taken out of context.

4. The content

Here are a few pointers on how to write a headline that has the most attractive content possible for your readers:


Readers often look for blog posts that help them solve specific problems. And that’s what you should aim for when composing your headline – check this one out: ‘How to Pay, Exercise and Take Photos Using Apple Watch’.

It gained more than 1.5k shares because it addresses an issue owners of an Apple Watch find relevant to their experience.


Providing the most effective strategies for solving a problem is another great approach. Posts starting with ‘The best way to…’ have the potential to go viral.

Take a look at this one from Entrepreneur –  ‘The Best Ways to Do Market Research for Your Business Plan.’ It was shared more than 6000 times!


Sometimes it’s a good idea to show users why doing something is worth it. Addressing their reasons and motivations will help you send a powerful message. Have a look at this headline: ‘Why You Should Forget Facebook’.

It piques interest by going against the grain – after all, why would anyone want to ignore the largest social network? This sort of headline simply guarantees traffic.


The online community has a lot of faith in science, and headlines with a ‘backed by science’ claim are often highly successful.

Insights derived from research will appeal to any audience – they’re more accurate, relevant and attractive.

’10 Productivity Strategies Backed By Science is a good example – it gained more than 1000 shares because people value the credibility of scientific research.


Follow these four steps and you’ll soon learn how to write a headline that’s not only attention-grabbing, but that will also guarantee a vast improvement in traffic to your website.

I hope you liked my tips on how to write a headline that actually engages your audience. Do you have any of your own tips to add?

Please let me know with your comment below. 🙂

About the Author

Kelly Smith is a dedicated tutor and writer. Currently, she develops her passion at Career FAQs, one of the leading providers of career and educational resources in Australia, where she provides career advice for students and job seekers.

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How to Write a Headline

How to Write a Headline





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