Four Simple Tricks for Writing Powerful Headlines

Creating engaging headlines is the most important part of writing. It’s also a lot of fun. Many professional writers spend nearly equal amounts of time creating a headline as in writing the entire article. So don’t worry if it’s taking too long.

Did you know: on average, 80-85% of people read only the headline and not the body?! Based on the headline alone, most people decide whether or not to continue reading. As a matter of fact, many people even make their buying decisions just from a headline!

This truth applies to headlines in articles, blogs, ads, flyers, posters, banners, etc. Most people will read only your headline. If your headline stinks, your content won’t get viewed and your site won’t keep its visitors. So, headlines are important…agreed?

Good! Now let’s write some great headlines. You don’t have to use all these tips to make a great headline; even one will already be an improvement.

Numbers. Using a number in your headline is like killing two birds with one stone. Your headline makes a clear specific promise, and your reader knows what to expect from the rest of the content.

“Dinner Recipes”  vs. “3 Dinner Recipes”

These are both pretty boring, but if you had to choose between one of these two articles, wouldn’t you choose the second?

This is because our brains don’t like uncertainty. Given two similar options, our brains will most often choose certainty over uncertainty. Would you rather $100 today as opposed to maybe $110 tomorrow?

Adjectives. Use adjectives to make your headlines interesting and descriptive. Essential, fun, free, incredible, best, surprising, etc. Adjectives help your reader get a fuller picture of what you are writing about. They can add a little spice to a boring headline.

“3 Dinner Recipes” vs. “3 Easy Dinner Recipes”

See how the second one is more enticing! “Dinner recipes” alone is vague. “Easy” adds a bit of information. The reader now knows that our recipes will be easy for her to do. Many times people may be interested in your recipes, but they just say, “Eh, too lazy.” An added benefit of using the word “easy” is that it silences their laziness, even if only for just enough time to read your content.

Different adjectives can play different roles. Use them wisely depending on who your target audience is.

Our headline is getting closer to the “wow” zone. Let’s move on.

  1. ApplicationHow can your readers apply what they are about to read? Tell them how to use your offer and what benefit they can get from it.

“3 Easy Dinner Recipes” vs. “3 Easy Dinner Recipes for Meat Lovers”

If you were a meat lover, wouldn’t you prefer to read the article containing meat recipes? Isn’t it a great benefit to you if you have 3 easy recipes to help you whip up a delicious meat dish?

Including application has now made the headline even more attractive to the relevant audience.

An added benefit to including application is that it helps refine the audience that will read your content. If your business targets meat lovers, then you wouldn’t want your ads being clicked on by vegetarians. Specifying what your product is used for can decrease unnecessary time spent on irrelevant clicks.

Promise. Make a bold claim. Be bold, be gutsy. Just get out there and say it. You want to dare your reader to continue reading. You want to make her feel like she just can’t pass this up. Of course you don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver, so make sure you can back up that claim.

“3 Easy Dinner Recipes for Meat Lovers” vs. “3 Easy Dinner Recipes Every Meat Lover Will Die For”

The claim here is that these recipes are amazing. Not only are they easy, but people that love meat will go crazy for these dishes. This article is every Shabbos cook’s dream!

And voila! We have an irresistible headline. By the way, did you notice that one of these headlines follows the exact formula?

Conclusion: Your headline needs a bit of pizzaz, but the underlying theme here is clarity. The clearer and more direct your headline, the better odds of the content being read. The better picture your readers have of what they are getting themselves into, the more likely they are to do it (given, of course, that your content interests them).


Bonus tip: There are many ways to write great headlines, not just the four mentioned here. Sometimes a great headline doesn’t even talk about what the product is; rather, it talks about the absence of the product. The famous example of this is from the milk industry. For years, dairy farm advertisers tried to convince people that milk is healthy, but all they saw were sales dropping. Then they started the “Got Milk?” campaign (remember that?) and sales literally soared!

Baruch Leifer is a professional digital marketing specialist. His experience includes directing the SEM department of a large marketing firm as well as heading the marketing department of an Inc 500 travel company. For inquiries contact

The Author