How to write effective headlines: Which words work?

Date: 13 August 2015

How to write effective headlines - Which words work?

Headlines are everywhere in content marketing – in blogs, in email subject lines, in social media posts. If you’re not good at crafting succinct, engaging headlines, you’ll struggle to get people engaging with your content. Luckily, Hubspot have done the hard work to analyse the most common terms found in the most-shared articles.

The great David Ogilvy said “on average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” Of course, he was talking about print advertising but the maxim is truer today than ever before. What’s more, the proportion of people who read your headline but not your blog is likely to be hundreds of times smaller than 20%.

Less time, more filtering

The headline is one of the main ways that people filter information. If they’ve reached your website and are looking at a page, they’ll use the headline to decide whether it’s worth looking at the content.

If they’ve not got to your website yet, the headline is likely to be the only thing they can use to decide whether your content is worth reading. If someone’s looking at a search results page (SERP) with your result on it or skimming Twitter, your headline had better stand out. It’s harsh but at least you know what you’re up against.

What words work in headlines

Hubspot analysed a range of industry sectors and topic areas and came up with top 5 terms found in the most-shared content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.

Sometimes the ‘killer’ words were topic specific – like “chocolate” in the Baking category or “successful” in the Entrepreneurs category.

What strikes you, however, looking across all the topic areas is that ‘how to’, ‘infographic’, ‘ways’ and ‘tips’ are the ones that recur.

People are looking for help

Content marketing revolves around helping people. It’s an extension of how you would serve them as a supplier, consultant or adviser.

When people have a challenge or problem, they are not only most receptive to help, they are actively looking for it. The great majority of the content you create and the headlines you write need to make it clear what you can help with and how you can help. Finding out how to write effective headlines is the first step to getting found and engaging.

Check out the full list of terms across 13 subjects and 5 social networks on the Hubspot blog. To get some help sharpening up your headlines and content, contact us today.

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