The 7 Steps to a Highly Clickable Headline

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Your headline may be the most important thing you write.

That’s a hard pill for some writers to swallow. When a headline is anywhere from 5-15 words, but an article or blog itself can be upwards of 2,000 words or more, it seems a little backward.

But the headline is arguably one of the most important aspects of your piece. Headlines draw readers in, make them interested in what’s in store, and in some cases, even change the way we think.

Whether you’re writing a blog post, an article, sales copy, or just an e-mail, you want to aim for the most clickable headline you can come up with.

Today, we’re going to take a look at seven steps that will give you the best headlines for drawing readers in.

What Makes a Highly Clickable Headline?

A headline is just a title, and therefore, you might be tempted to not think about it very much at all. In your middle school literature class, did you write an enticing title for your year-end book report?

Probably not.

Becuase you weren’t trying to draw a large audience into your work. Your audience was your teacher, and the result was your grade.

Suddenly, “The Wild and Sexually Explicit Implications of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Work” becomes simply: “A Paper on The Canterbury Tales.”


Only your teacher is going to read that piece, and that’s certainly not because they want to!

So when you’re setting out to write your content and make it as fresh as possible, you may want to spruce that headline up a bit too. Don’t just write the first thing that pops into your head.

That’s a recipe for boring and non-clicky titles.

Instead, let’s look at some recipes, or formulas, for eye-catching headlines.

1. The Five W’s

If you took journalism classes, you’re probably well versed in this. In fact, any high school courses around writing probably covered this as well.

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

The five w’s that we all know and love are important on a number of levels. They’re the cornerstone of pretty much everything we need to know.

While you may not use all of them in your headline, having some combination of these pieces of information will only help your cause.

It’s the important information that you need to know, and if your reader is only seeing your headline and hasn’t gotten to the article yet, the more info they have, the better.

2. Numbers

Numbers are also important for headlines.

Listicles are popular for a reason. The information is easy to absorb and it automatically gives the reader a structure to follow.

If the information in the blog or article is in list form, then there’s already a guide to read by.

Here are some examples of list-based headlines:

  • “10 Tips to Jumpstart Your Morning Routine”
  • “Top 20 Movies to See This Year”
  • “The 5 Reasons You Need to Start Doing Yoga”

Each of these examples goes back to #1 in that they include a number of pieces of information that the reader will find helpful.

They also give a juxtaposition between numbers and words that simply stand out on an aesthetic basis. The fact that numbers are shown as numerals in the title next to the words already draws in the eyes of the audience.

Numbers are also a good way to put information from the article into perspective.

“A Number of People Die From Volcanoes” may be factual, but “278,368 Deaths Have Been Recorded From Volcanic Eruptions” stands out and is accurate.

When you can, use numbers to your advantage.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

Your headline is an opportunity to get your audience excited.

The body of your blog or article is where all of the information and details come into play, but the headline should get people excited for one reason or another.

Don’t be afraid to embellish a little bit here.

You want to not only make your headline clickable, you want to make it seem as though it needs to be clicked NOW.

For example, “How to Install Windows on Your Computer” may tell the reader what the article is about, but “Things You Need to Consider Before Installing Windows on Your Computer” has more urgency. Not only does it attract readers who are planning on installing Windows, it also tells those readers that they need to read these considerations before doing that.

Give your readers a reason to read your work now rather than later.

4. Use Strong Accent Words

Chances are, you can probably pepper your headline with a powerful or strong word.

It’s not just the “12 Reasons Why You Should Start Drinking Kombucha”; it’s the “12 Reasons Why Drinking Kombucha Will Make You Explode With Energy”!

Strong word choices, such as:

  • Crushing
  • Explosive
  • Incredible
  • Magnificent
  • Shocking
  • Overwhelming

Will add to the excitement and urgency of your content.

Words such as “awesome,” “great,” or “best” may be accurate and get your information across, but they don’t pack the same punch.

5. Shorter is Better

The length of your title is important, as well.

In general, shorter headlines will be more clickable than longer ones. That’s not necessarily always true, and it really depends on your goal and audience, but it’s a good rule of thumb to go by.

Too often, titles go on for too long and try to cram in too much information. Whether they’re creative blog titles or not isn’t the point. The point is that they’re just not targeted enough.

Keep the information as necessary as possible and remove extraneous words.

In general, if you’re trying to rank high in Google searches aim for a max of 55 characters. That’s how many characters it takes before Google starts to cut off the title in its search results, making your headline seem incomplete.

6. Optimize Your Headline for People as well as Search

Keywords are an important part of your headline.

If you’ve done any research on search engine optimization tools, then you’ve come across a keyword search tool or two in your life.

It’s important to use keywords wisely so that you’ll be discovered by audiences seeking those words or phrases out. Even if they don’t already know of you or your company, then they may stumble across you if you’re using the right keywords.

That being said, you need to use your keywords correctly.

Just like the content itself, if your headline is stuffed with keywords and makes no sense then it doesn’t matter if you’re using the “right” words or not.

You should optimize your headline for your audience. Clickable headlines make sense as well as use the appropriate keywords.

Here is an example of a non-clickable headline using the keyword “iPhone price”:

“The Cost of Phones and Questions About iPhone Prices”

Here is a much more clickable version of a headline for that same post:

“Questions About iPhone Prices? See What Makes Them So Expensive”

This headline would be much better optimized overall for the following reasons:

  • Remains around 55 characters, making it good for search results
  • Pushes the keyword toward the front of the headline
  • Makes sense to the reader
  • Draws the reader in with a question and gives them a call to action

That last one is sort of a tip all in itself, but if you’re wanting to make your headline as clickable as possible, understand that your readers are probably asking these questions, too.

Use questions to your advantage.

7. Use an Active Rather Than Passive Voice

When creating a clickable headline, try to use an active voice rather than a passive one.

An active voice is much stronger, it creates a sense of immediacy or urgency (#3), and it makes your audience feel like they’re on the same page as you.

Let’s say you’re making a headline for a blog on getting maintenance for your luxury car.

Here is an example of a headline for that article in a passive voice:

“Your Luxury Car is Improved by Regular Maintenance”

Here is an example of a headline for that same article in an active voice:

“Regular Maintenance Improves Your Luxury Car”

In the active-voice example, regular maintenance is the subject of the headline and it’s shown to actively do something. The passive version makes the luxury car the subject and something is done to it.

The reason the active headline works so well is that there is more energy to it as the subject is essentially doing something at the moment.

You want your reader there with you at the moment, as well.

Getting the Most Out of Clickable Headlines

Those are some of the most important steps to get yourself a highly clickable headline.

If you’re writing a blog post, sales copy, or even just e-mailing a co-worker, you want your headline to stand out. An eye-catching headline will make your readers and audience excited and compelled to read past the top line.

Hopefully, you got some good ideas for clickable headlines for your next writing venture. If you’re looking for more tips on digital marketing or want to talk to us about our targeted marketing services, please feel free to contact us any time!

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