The Title Trick: How to Write Eye-Catching Headlines in 2023

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Writing eye-catching headlines starts with considering your target audience and the type of language and vocabulary you believe they will be most drawn to. Fun buzz words and powerful adjectives will help your headlines stand out but higher engagement relies on keyword-friendly, intriguing, and original headlines that resonate with your target audience. 

Contrary to popular belief, crafting the perfect headline requires more than just keywords and trending topics.

With all of us battling for new readers, how can we convert impressions into clicks?

Read on and I’ll reveal what I’ve learned from mentors with decades of experience in journalism as well as the rules I live by as a writer and headline editor in my own career.


Titles for Google results

If you’re writing for your blog posts’ organic success, your meta title is what separates your article from the results that hover above and below yours in exactly the same font, size and color.

By organic success I mean organic traffic.

If you want people to come across your content naturally on Google, your title has to make them stop or rewind on the scroll button and view your title properly.

The only thing that will make your posts appealing is your ability to create a title that will stand out.

How can I make the title pop?

The titles that stand out are the ones that set off all the right bells for your target audience.

There’s certainly some psychology behind my theory here.

Before even writing your title, consider your target audience and really think about why they’d even be interested in reading your article.

Try to form an image of them in your head – what kind of language do you think they would be drawn to?

Let’s take my most recent search for ‘best dog toys’ as an example.

I navigated to the second page of Google to see which title caught my eye the most.

While I naturally scrolled past boring, mundane results like ‘Best dog toys for you and your pet,’ I stopped on the result highlighted below.

example of best headlines to use

’23 Best Indestructible Dog Toys for the Toughest Chewers’

Let me first break down why this title caught my eye straight away.

  • Fun buzz word: As a dog lover, appropriate and audience-friendly vocabulary like ‘Chewers’ made me stop to read the title in full.
  • A powerful adjective: The inclusion of ‘indestructible’ dog toys intrigued and persuaded me to find out what these incredible toys could be.

Thanks to these two factors, I was intrigued enough to inspect further.

After reading the title in full, the list below includes everything that make this title a winner:

  • Audience-friendly vocabulary: Don’t stuff your title with jargon here but clever injections of appropriate language will appeal to the audience you’re trying to attract.
  • Strong adjectives: Are you using the best, punchiest adjectives in your titles? Take a look at an online thesaurus next time and see if there’s a better option for your title.
  • SEO Keyword: Your meta titles need your primary keyword in there somewhere and the beginning of the title is the best place for this.
  • Numbers: Used by many, numbers in the title have been shown to have a higher CTR than many without. Again, there’s no need to spam your titles with numbers but if it works, go ahead.

Once you’ve caught their eye, you must give them no choice but to click through and land on your webpage where they will be at the mercy of your meticulously crafted content and whatever information rollercoaster you have in store for them next.

On-page titles

Remember, your blog posts have two titles:

  1. Meta title.
  2. On-page title.

Because your meta title needs to be readable by search engines, you’ll have to use a couple of keywords here so it’s more SEO-friendly, thus leaving you with less room to be more creative.

However, your on-page title doesn’t require quite so much SEO so go ahead and show off your creativity and flair for writing headlines.

A good way to think about it is this:

Imagine your website is the new Google.

It’s the go-to search engine in the world for your niche.

Now imagine that with every new article you create, you’re trying to persuade users to click this new headline instead of the rest on your website’s content homepage.

You can read more about giving your website search engine capabilities here.

Back to the point though.

You want your headlines to pop.

In order to do that, there’s a couple of lessons to take note of and we’ll arrive at these next.

Important title advice!

First pay attention to this.

If your meta title and on-page title are strikingly different, you’ll likely encounter these problems on your website:

  • Confused or frustrated users leaving your site immediately because they no longer believe they’re in the right place.
  • A lack of continuity, which will affect your website’s appearance and overall user experience.

If your meta title is: ‘The 12 Best Places to Eat in Madrid, Spain’

A good on-page title might be: ‘The 12 Destinations for Delicious Dishes in Madrid, Spain’

A bad on-page title would look like this: ‘Food You Should Try During Your Trip to Spain’

The latter fails to relate properly to the meta title as it focuses more on food than actual restaurants.

woman confused with bad on-page title and meta title

Lessons for Headline Writing

Headline writing really is an art and no good artist ever succeeded without practice.

However, there are some do’s and don’ts you can keep in mind to make sure your blog titles and headlines are always in tip-top shape.

What’s in it for the reader?

When writing headlines, always put yourself in your users’ shoes.

Remember that the headline is the first thing they’re going to see and they need to know two things:

  • What’s the article actually about?
  • What’s in it for them if they do click?

While creativity in headlines is good, too much focus on creating catchy titles can lead us astray as we forget that the reader first and foremost needs to know what the article is about.

Example:

This article is about creating carefully crafted titles that can help drive engagement.

So let’s say I wanted to use the title below instead:

‘No Good Headline Writer Succeeds Without a Little Practice’

There’s no two ways about it, this headline is crap.

If I saw this for the first time, I might be able to appreciate the writer’s attempt to create intrigue or something unique.

However, I have no idea what the article is actually about.

Okay, it’s probably about headlines – but what’s in it for me?

Like most users on the internet, my time is precious and I need to know the value I’ll get from this article.

So I’m going to ignore it and click on another headline that tells me exactly what the article’s about and what I have to gain.

Something like:

‘The Title Trick: How to Write Eye-Catching Headlines in 2022’



Use the active voice

A simple one to remember.

Always use the active voice for your headlines.

It will help you write titles that get to the point and generally read better.

Using the active voice simply requires you to put the subject first.

Example of active voice: ‘Local man purchases mansion’

Example of passive voice: ‘Mansion purchased by local man’

Avoid the passive voice at all costs!

Write conservatively

Shorter titles read better.

Nobody really wants to scan a title with 70 or more characters.

There are also a couple of ways you can make your headlines more concise.

Aside from freeing your titles of long-winded language and general jargon, you can also:

  • Use fewer words: Instead of ‘came to the decision’ you can write ‘decided’ and save some characters.
  • Use commas: Rather than writing ‘and’ in every title, try and replace it with a comma if it makes sense to.
  • Use colons: A colon is a good tool that will help you present your main subject first before expanding further – just look at the title for this post.

sign stating that less is more when writing headlines

Stop using the verb ‘to be’

Next time you write a headline that has the verb ‘to be’ in there, replace it with a punchier verb that will excite potential new readers.

I talked about the importance of intriguing readers in my best subject lines article for email marketing recently.

One of the simplest ways to do that is by reviewing your titles and injecting some flair in there rather than using the same verb in every title.

Boring Example: The Matrix is Back: Fourth Film is Fun and Full of Action’

Improved: ‘The Matrix Returns: Why Latest Instalment Exceeds Expectations’

Vibrant language will give your titles life and you can even create a poetic allure if you’re able to use additional literary techniques like alliteration and sibilance.


Avoid lethargic titles

The verb ‘to continue’ is one of the biggest culprits in boring titles.

‘Apple Stock Prices Continue to Climb’

Great, so I guess there’s nothing new happening there that I need to know about – skip.

Avoiding words like ‘continues’ and ‘remains’ is another lesson to keep in mind at all times.

Make a note of this – it’s easy to forget!

When we use these kinds of words in our headlines, all we’re doing is telling readers that nothing’s changed.

Readers don’t want to spend time reading articles that have nothing to offer them in the way of value.

Even if your content is a goldmine for information, you’re badly hurting your engagement levels by writing headlines with stagnant words like these:

  • Continues
  • Lingers
  • Remains
  • Maintains
  • Stays
  • Sustains

And this leads me onto the final lesson for writing the perfect titles that will really help you seduce readers.

box with secret to writing catchy titles

Make the title engaging

Perhaps the most important lesson of all: the headline has to engage your target audience.

If you’re able to learn the previous lessons, the following ideas will be help you take your headlines and titles even further.

  • Conflict: No matter what your niche is, you can bring in the element of conflict to sell your content better. People love a good face off and titles like ‘Bitcoin vs. Ethereum: Which Will Rule in 2022?’ are a great way to shape your content.
  • Questions: Writing titles as questions is another great way to spruce up headlines but be careful; never write a title that readers already have the answer to. Something like ‘Will the World End in 2022?’ is unlikely to have much engagement as readers can simply say, “no, probably not” and move on. Instead, address readers directly with headlines like ‘Which Leg Exercises are Right For You?’
  • Trends: Users like familiarity and trending topics are an excellent way to get them on your site fast. It’s not always easy to create content on trending topics as it might be a completely new or foreign area for you. However, if you can work the current trends into your titles and content, you’re most definitely going to see improvements in all the right metrics.
  • Urgency: You want people reading your content as soon as it’s published, right? One of the simplest tricks in the book is to translate that urgency through your title. Of course, if it works for your overall post, entice people with language like “now,” “today,” “right now” and so on. I would be happy with a title like ‘All You Need to Know About the Crypto Boom Happening Right Now’ as it’s creating a sense of urgency that readers latch on to.

Conclusion

You have to make your titles interesting.

A good exercise is to conduct some searches on Google and then make a mental (or physical) note of the titles you love and the ones you wouldn’t look at again.

With the lessons provided in this post, you should now have a good framework for crafting catchy titles that will help you grow ideas and engagement online.

Sometimes all it takes is a flash of inspiration and before you know if you have a highly effective title at your disposal.

Don’t forget that you can also A/B test your headlines too; options like Optimizely and Chartbeat are excellent but you will have to consider your budget if you want to utilize the best tools on the market for this.

Good luck with your titles, headlines, subheadings, and general content. As always, please share this article if you found it useful so that more people can discover us here at Peeled!

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