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The Ultimate Guide To Writing More Effective Headlines (with headline examples)

When you open your inbox in the morning how do you pick which emails to read first? The chances are that you choose the one with the subject line/headline that catches your eye, or grabs your attention. Subject lines on emails and headlines on blogs or social media are what draw us in to click the link or read the article.

You could write a really valuable article, that would be super helpful for your audience but unless you get the headline right your article is never going to be read and get the attention it deserves. It will just sit unopened in an inbox, or ignored on social media.

So, want to learn how to write a headline? Read on to discover how to write effective headlines and see headline examples that you can use for any headline or subject line.

Click on the links below banner
What makes a good headline?
Essential headline tips + headline examples
How-to headline templates
Listicle headline templates
“Tips for” headline templates
Intriguing quetions and facts headline templates
Email subject lines headline templates

What makes a good headline?

Choosing the best headline for your article may take a few extra minutes but it is worth investing the time.

Here’s what makes a good headline:

  • It clearly explains what the content is about
  • It demonstrates the value of the content
  • It catches people’s eyes
  • It makes people want to find out more
  • It drives an emotional response

Essential elements of quality headlines + headline examples

Writing headlines: Essential elements of a good headline

1.  Make Sure Your Title Matches Your Content

It sounds obvious, but your chosen headline must reflect the content of your article.

It can be tempting to write a title that sounds more enticing, or exciting to try to pick up a few extra clicks (commonly known as “clickbait”) but while that may work for a while, in the end, it will seriously damage your blog and your reputation.

Your readers won’t trust you, and search engines will lower your ranking, or even stop indexing your site if your content has a low relevance to your titles.

Example: If you are writing a post about basic website design, try:

Designing your first website in under less than an hour

rather than:

Designing the perfect website in under five minutes

2.  Start The Headline With “What Is” or “How To”

These are popular search engine queries. Most people use Google because they want to know something.

These same people are also reading your post because they want to know something.

Starting a headline with “How to” or “What is” not only attracts search engines but also readers scanning a page looking for information.


How to design the perfect website

rather than

Designing a website

[bctt tweet=”Headlines with “What is” or “How to” perform better #content #marketing” username=”lilachbullock”]

3.  Don’t Forget Adjectives

Dull, boring, titles aren’t going to hold your reader’s attention. Try adding as much colour as you can.

Think of some adjectives which add detail, and encourage the reader to think about the subject.


How to design a high-ranking, SEO friendly website

rather than

How to design a website

4.  Include Numbers In Your Title

Readers love lists. Lists are quick to read, and straightforward to digest. Always write the digits instead of writing the numbers out.


5 Steps to the perfect website

rather than

Designing the perfect website or Five steps to the perfect website

5. Include Keywords

Including keywords in your post titles is imperative – if you can rank your content for the right keywords, it will you boost your organic traffic considerably.

Every time you create a new piece of content, use a keyword research tool to see what people are searching for – and what keywords you should target.

Use that keyword not only in your headline but throughout your content, as well and in your sub-headlines.

[bctt tweet=”The Ultimate Guide To Writing More Effective Headlines” username=”lilachbullock”]

6.  Be specific

The more specific you are about your subject the better. Not only does it give your reader more information about how valuable the post will be to them, but it improves the likelihood of your post ranking highly in search engines as there will be less competition for the terms you use.


Quickly create WordPress websites using free templates

rather than

Creating websites quickly

7.  Keep your headlines short

Keep your headlines short and sweet, while still being descriptive.

Don’t use ten words if you can say it in five words.

Plus, Google limits titles to 70 characters so you need to keep your SEO titles below that number (this isn’t your headline but rather the title that will be displayed in Google searches so it can be anything you want – just make sure you keep it under the limit and that it includes your keywords).

If you are writing email subject lines then ideally it is best if the reader can see the whole subject displayed in their inbox.

Emails that need to be opened before their subject is revealed are less likely to be read.



How to design websites fast

Rather than

Designing and building WordPress websites by using templates commonly available over the Internet from free

Below are some more examples of effective headlines in each of these categories.

Simply fill in the blanks to customise the headlines to your own particular niche:

How to Headlines: 

How To Tell If ____

How ____ Increase Your ____

How To ____ The Quickly

How ____ Can Inspire Your ____

How To Stop Getting ____

What To Do With ____

Where To Find ____

How To Get More ____

How To Generate A ____

How To Quickly ____

How To Deliver

How To Use ____ To Stand Out

How To Really ____ That Drives ____

How To Get ____ in 5 simple steps

How To ____ in

How I Made ____ in ____

How To Find ____

How To Build ____

How To Create A Strong ____

How To Totally Change ____

How To Create ____ That Brings ____

How To Unlock ____

[bctt tweet=”The Ultimate Guide to writing more effective headlines #content ” username=”lilachbullock”]

A variation of the ‘How to’ headline is the ‘Guide’ headline. It holds the same basic idea. You are providing your reader with valuable information that will show them how to do something that they don’t already know.

Advanced Guide to ____

A Beginners Guide to ____

DIY ____

An Experts Guide to ____

A Complete Guide To ____

What to Look for when ____

The Ultimate Guide: ____

[bctt tweet=”Copy these headlines to use in your emails & #socialmedia posts #content” username=”lilachbullock”]

Listicle headlines

I’ve used the number 5 in each of these examples, but of course you can change that to anything that fits your format.

5 Secrets To ____

5 Resources to Create a _____

5 Ways to Build ____

5 Proven Tips To ____

5 Signs You Might be ____

5 Amazing ____ To ____

5 Surprising Facts About ____

5 Essential Lessons For ____

5 Key Benefits Of ____

5 Examples Of ____ That will Inspire You

5 -Point Checklist: ____

5 Lessons to ____

5 Rules For ____ You Should Break

5 Things your ____ Can’t Tell You

5 ____ Trends For 2016

5 ____Every ____ Should Own

5 ____ to Try For ____

5 Exciting ____ To Try Right Now

5 Crazy ____ That Will Give You ____

5 Styles of ____

5 Questions You Must Ask Before _____

5 Tricks That Will Make You _____

5 ____Habits to kick

5 Things You Must Know Before ____

5 Ideas To Kickstart Your ____

5 New Trends You Should Know ____

5 Great ____ To ____

5 ____ We All Love

5 ______ To Motivate You Today

5 ______ Ideas

5 Reasons You Didn’t Get ______ 

‘Tips for’ Headlines

Everyone likes tips that provide quick, simple solutions to everyday problems your readers are struggling with.

5 Foolproof _____ Tips To _____

5 Ways To Supercharge Your _____

5 Fast Ways To _____

5 Crazy Ways To _____

5 Unique Tips To _____

5 Greatest _____ Hacks For _____

5 Things You Didn’t Realise About _____

5 Superb _____ To _____

5 Surprising Things To _____

5 Outrageous _____

5 Odd But Effective _____ To _____

5 Things You Should Not Do _____

5 Wearable _____ For _____

5 Unusual ____

5 Proven Tips ____ For ____

5 Quick Ways To Grow _____ Without

5 Tricks _____

5 Ways To Ensure Your ____ Is Not ____

5 Mistakes You Won’t Want To Make

5 Tips For _____

5 Smart Strategies For ____

5 Most Effective Tactics For ____

5 Easy Ways To ____

5 Essential Steps To ____

5 Wrong Ways To____

5 Creative Ways ____

5 Tips For Stressed ____

5 No-Nonsense Tips For____

5 Tactics To _____

5 Tips That Work_____

5 That Will Help You _____

5 Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make Again

5 Ways To _____Like A Ninja!

The Best Tip Ever: ______

The Only Tip You Must Have: ______

[bctt tweet=”The Ultimate Guide to Writing More Effective Headlines #content” username=”lilachbullock”]

Pick of the Day/ Week / Month

Editor’s Pick Of The Month

Readers Pick of The Week

Intriguing Questions or facts

Not everything is as it seems. It is always fun to read blogs with a unique take on a topic, or which go against the way we think the world operates. Catch your readers attention with headlines that suggest the unexpected.

What No-one Tells You About

Is ____ Stopping You ____

Quiz: ____

Today’s Big Q: ____

Why Does ____ Matter?

Why You’re Doing It Wrong:

Are There ___?

Why Are The ___?

Who On Earth ___

5 Things That Are Stopping You ____

You Won’t Believe

What a Real ____ Looks Like

Why I Never _____

Who Else Wants ____?

___ VS ___ : Which One Works For You?

___ VS ___ : Which Is More Effective?

Why ___ Beats ___

Amazing Secrets

I Wish Someone Had Told Me

5 Myths About

Why Would You Want to ____?

Is Your ____ Designed To ____?

Should You Build ____ To ____?

Why You Must Have ____ For ____

Why Should You ____

[bctt tweet=”Catch your readers attention with headlines that suggest the unexpected #content” username=”lilachbullock”]

Email Subject lines

Most of the rules for headlines can be applied to email subject lines as well, but there are some subtle differences. The most effective email subject lines are short enough to be fully visible in your inbox, and provide readers with an incentive to open the email. With email a personal approach works best. Try to use You and Your wherever possible. Remember you are talking to an individual, and trying to establish a connection with them.

Short catchy titles can work well. Sometimes even a single word is enough. Back in 2012 Barack Obama famously sent out a fundraising email with the one word subject “Hey”. That email earned him lots of donations for his Presidential campaign, but he had the advantage being a well known name. If your name is always going to be familiar to a reader then you can get away with some things that the rest of us can’t. If your name may be unfamiliar, or you don’t want to risk your email being relegated to the spam folder then it is better to stick to more specific subject lines. It is also worth mentioning that you will normally get a better response rate from an email where the sender name is a real person, rather than using a company name.

Some general examples would be:

How To_____

Forgotten Secrets of _________

Who else wants___

Warning: Don’t _________

How I made ______

If You Can Do ______ Then _______

Each of these suggests that the reader will be better off in some way by opening your email and gives them a reason to want to open the email.

Examples of subject lines which promise to reveal information:

“Warning: Don’t Do This If You Want More Clients”

“How Doing This One Thing Made Me A Lot Richer”

“3 Ways to Get a Six Pack (Without Exercising)”

“Revealed: The Secrets to Filling Up Your Webinar”

“How to Get People to Buy More From You”

“Are You Making These 3 Common _____ Mistakes?”

[bctt tweet=”Copy these email headlines #content #marketing” username=”lilachbullock”]

One strategy that can be highly effective is to demonstrate how the content of the email applies to the reader personally. Suggest to them that their life will be improved in some way. Try to tap into the dreams and desires of your readers and find a way to tie your content to their aspirations.

“5 Risk-Free Strategies for Financial Independence”

“5 Minutes to Your _________ ”

“[VIDEO] Here’s what I promised you ”

“Do You Love serving your clients, but hate selling?”

“YOU too can be a ________ Rockstar”

“Access Your Free Webinar Replay”

“Build Your Business Without Selling”

“3 Words That Let You Charge More”

“Create profitable product using Your expertise”

“Learn How to Build Your Business Fast…”

“Launch your _____ in 2016”

I found these FREE tools for your business”

Suggest to your readers that you are offering them something new and exciting that has never been seen before:

“Be one of the first to __________”

“[BRAND NEW] ____________

“Free _________ to the First 500 to reply”

“Revealed: The 5 Most Important __________”

“10 Posts to Treble Your Blog Traffic”

“Hot off the press: Free _______ to ___________”

Showing your reader that they are part of a larger group, all interested in the content you are sharing works well. No-one likes to think that they are alone, by building a group mentality you spur them forward to take action.

[bctt tweet=”The Ultimate Guide to Writing More Effective Headlines #content #marketing” username=”lilachbullock”]

“Why will 1500 Coaches be Joining Us Today?”

“We are starting now. Are you coming?”

“Will you be joining us?”

“2 Strategies that Tripled Sarah’s ___ Business”

“This Is what they are saying…”

“Everyone is here waiting for you…”

“The 3 Habits Every Successful Leader Has”

Piquing the curiosity of the reader by asking a question can encourage them to open your email to find out the answer.

Try questions, such as:

“Why did I decide not to ________?”

“Do you know the Easiest Way to ____?”

“Where is the Hidden Profit in Your ______ Business”

“Have you discovered the amazing secret to _________”

“Are you making this ______ mistake?

“Could you use a free ________?”

“Are you tired of working on Your Boss’s dream?”

“Why doesn’t ____ work for me?”

“Gain 10% ____ in 30 days”

“Want to work on your business?”

“Why do most authors make no money from their blog?”

“Do You Think Your _____ Will Sell?”

Readers often need a reason to act. Everyone has a busy schedule and it’s easy for things to be pushed to the back with the intention of acting on them later. Later rarely comes, by giving your readers an incentive to act NOW rather than later you can greatly increase the response rate of your emails.

Try suggesting that if they don’t respond right away they may miss out on a time limited offer, or that there is only a limited quantity of places or product available.

[bctt tweet=”The Ultimate Guide to Writing More Effective Headlines #content #marketing” username=”lilachbullock”]

Headlines like:

“[REGISTRATION ENDS TODAY] Will you be joining us?”

“___________ Closing at Midnight”

“X Offer is almost over”

“Only 12 Places Left”

“LAST CHANCE to _____”

“ALMOST SOLD OUT: Final places ________”

Summary: writing an effective headline

Writing a good headline can seem daunting at first, but by thinking about it from the readers’ point of view, and why they might want to read your blog post, it is possible to come up with an almost endless supply of headlines. All of these example headlines have been tried and tested in real-life situations. You can take them and adapt them for your own purposes. By following these simple steps you will be on your way to writing more effective headlines, and dramatically improving your results across email, blog posts and social media.

Are there any types of headlines that work particularly well for you? Leave a comment and let me know.

If you find this content valuable, don’t forget to share it with your friends and followers.

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About Lilach Bullock

Hi, I’m Lilach, a serial entrepreneur! I’ve spent the last 2 decades starting, building, running, and selling businesses in a range of niches. I’ve also used all that knowledge to help hundreds of business owners level up and scale their businesses beyond their beliefs and expectations.

I’ve written content for authority publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc, Twitter, Social Media Examiner and 100’s other publications and my proudest achievement, won a Global Women Champions Award for outstanding contributions and leadership in business.

My biggest passion is sharing knowledge and actionable information with other business owners. I created this website to share my favorite tools, resources, events, tips, and tricks with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small business owners, and startups. Digital marketing knowledge should be accessible to all, so browse through and feel free to get in touch if you can’t find what you’re looking for!


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