How to Write Compelling Headlines for Your Content

writing compelling headlines

Seeing a bump in your bounce rates? It might be because your headlines are less-than compelling.

Headlines are the first impression of a piece of content, but are all too often treated as an afterthought. Many writers who are in the beginning stages of learning copywriting spend grueling hours crafting the perfect article, only to slap a generic title on it. 

A headline has to be compelling enough for your audience to read past it. 

What Makes Headlines Compelling?

A compelling headline instantly engages the reader. The more the headline draws the reader directly into the content, the more likely the reader scrolls all the way through it. 

The 4-U Method

Urgent 

Headlines should have a sense of urgency, without being overly pushing, or sounding too desperate. For example, a headline with urgency can apply the fear of missing out approach by implying what the reader will lose out on if they don’t take action.

For example, if you were writing an ad for a newborn photographer, you might use a headline such as “This Phase Doesn’t Last. Memories Do. Spring Portraits Available Only Through the End of May.”

This lets the reader know that there is a deadline on the promotion, and adds an emotional urgency to compel the reader to act quickly.

Useful

Today’s consumers are bombarded with information. If your message doesn’t offer something of value to the reader, whether it be informational or entertainment, your headline won’t be enough to pique interest.

When writing your headline, always offer information that shows what’s in it for them. For example, the headline of the article you’re reading right now indicates its value: by the end of this article, you’ll know how to write a great headline.

Unique

Boring headlines don’t get clicks.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Witty, punchy headlines are far more likely to catch someone’s attention than one that uses cliches or drab language.

One way to practice writing a unique and compelling headline is to write down headlines that catch your attention, and then rewrite them in your own words. This will put you in a more creative mindset and train your brain to recognize what makes a headline catchy.

Ulta-Specific

A hyper-focused headline earns more clicks than one that is too overarching. 

People like to know what they can expect. By giving your content a title that details exactly what will be within the content, you will see a surge in click-through rates.

Match Headline Styles

If you are a content writer who writes for multiple websites or publications, you will need to tailor your titles to match the specific formats of their respective publications.

Some websites prefer lengthy, energy-driven titles, while others prefer concise headlines written with a matter-of-fact tone.

This is especially important if you’re writing an advertorial or submitting a guest post to a popular website. Established publications have painstakingly and strategically developed their brand, and your content needs to integrate seamlessly.

Pay Attention to Punctuation 

A common headline faux-paus is the overuse of punctuation.

The advent of the internet has made it so virtually every business has a way to advertise. Because competition is so dense, some copywriters think that a headline littered with exclamation points is the best way to catch an audience’s attention (think: Buy Now!! Limited Time Offer!!)

This, however, is counterproductive.

The modern consumer is savvy, and growing increasingly more difficult to impress.

Excessive punctuation makes a headline look insincere, sensationalist, and loses credibility.

Write in Active Voice

Using an active voice makes your headline more engaging as well as easier to read. Writing in the active voice prevents your headline from becoming too complicated, which can turn readers away.

Headlines: Worth the Effort

It is important to put as much emphasis on your headlines as you do the corresponding content. Writing compelling headlines makes your writing more powerful from the very beginning, increasing the likelihood that your audience will remain engaged.