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7 Simple Steps To Writing The Perfect Blog Post Headline

A great headline is the difference between businesses gaining and losing customers.

It’s that simple.

Even if your goal isn’t to ‘sell’, a great headline is the difference between building relationships and being invisible.

Headlines are CRUCIAL.

My headline for this article has 10 words*, leads with a reassuring adjective, includes a number, and is scannable.

(It also contains triple alliteration at the end, which I’m proud of from a vanity perspective, but that’s beside the point).

But why is any of this important?

Because there are rules when writing headlines.

If your headline doesn’t meet some or all of the above criteria, it either:

a) won’t appear anywhere on page 1, or

b) will appear on page 1 but not receive nearly as many clicks as it could have done.

You’ll have spent all that time crafting the perfect blog post only for no one to see it.

And you don’t want this to happen — right?

That’s what I thought.

I’ve got you covered.

Here’s how to write a blog headline that stands out and generates clicks.

(*Yes, I’m writing all of my numbers as numbers in this article. I felt like it. It’s easier, so whatever.)

1. Pay attention to word count

I see a lot of headlines that read like the writer’s thoughts presented out loud without any consideration of word count.

What I mean by that is — they’ve got the crux of an idea, and they’ve written it verbatim as it's come to them and thought, ‘Yep — that’ll do.’

What they’ve written isn’t wrong per se, but it’s not as good as it could’ve been to maximise impact.

Headlines are often either not hard-hitting enough or, conversely, not descriptive enough. And that usually comes down to word count.

Here are some examples:

“How To Write An Article Headline” (6 words) — vague, boring, too short.

“Here’s The Complete Guide To Everything You Need To Know About Writing A Perfect Headline” (15 words) — waffle, doesn’t get to the point, way too long.

So, how many words should a blog post headline contain?

As someone who has a CoSchedule Headline Analyzer subscription, I can reveal that CoSchedule recommends 10 to 13 words as the sweet spot. HubSpot claims that blog posts containing headlines of 8 to 12 words receive the highest number of Twitter shares, while 12 to 14 words is optimal when it comes to Facebook shares.

For argument’s sake, let’s say 10 or 11 words is most optimal. The title of this blog post contains 10.

Whilst there isn’t an ‘optimal’ character count for headlines (Google recently scrapped its 110-character limit), you need to be as concise as possible to avoid being truncated — in other words, cut off — by search engines. As a rule of thumb, I’d say you don’t want to go above 70 characters. My headline contains 56.

Here’s how not to write a headline if you want to avoid this outcome (sorry, Caroline. I’m sure your article is great — it is on page 1 of Google, after all).

2. Use power words

A title concept on its own is nothing. It needs powerful words around it to make it forceful, command readers’ attention, and trigger them to take action.

According to CoSchedule, 10-15% of your headline should consist of “emotional” words. Here are some examples of how you can integrate these into your headlines:

  • “Proven”, i.e., 10 Proven Benefits Of Working With A Content Writer — this headline says to the reader ‘Don’t just take my word for it — look at the evidence’. When a point you’re making is validated by an external example, it carries more weight. People love hard facts.

  • “Quick”, i.e., Fix Your Zipper With These 5 Quick Steps — this headline says you’re not going to take up much of the reader’s time, and you’ll solve their issue in just a couple of minutes (if that). People are busy and in a rush most of the time, so this word works wonders.

  • “Empower”, i.e., Empower Your Mind With These 10 Meditation Tips — this headline not only gives power to the reader, it tells them from the first word what’s in it for them. Someone who searches ‘meditation tips’ is likely to feel anxious and stressed and be looking for a release from these emotions, so leading with an adjective like this will get them on-side straight away. It’s also scannable, as you know from reading the beginning and end of the headline what the article is about. (I’ll come back to this further down)

There are hundreds of other emotional words you can refer to — check out this list for more examples.

The best-performing headlines also include at least 1 “power word”, such as:

  • Brilliant

  • Breath-taking

  • Clear

  • Easy

  • Good

  • Growth

  • Help

  • Improve

  • Increase

  • Inspiration

  • Mind-blowing

  • Positive

  • Significant

  • Terrific

Not to sound like a CoSchedule affiliate marketer here (I’m not, for the record!), but I highly recommend getting a subscription so you can check out the entire word bank for yourselves.

3. Think outside the box

I know I said in my intro that there are rules when writing headlines, but you can challenge convention to a point.

Let me explain —

Logic would dictate that a piece like this should have a headline like ‘How To Write The Perfect Blog Post Headline’. And that sort of headline would make sense. It would do a job.

But do you want your content to just ‘do a job’, or stimulate and compel people?

I asked myself this question when creating the headline for this piece. I realised I didn’t want to write a simple ‘how to’ headline, the likes of which you see plastered all over Google.

I don’t want the reader to have to spend 5-10 seconds sifting through a few empty words to understand how my article benefits them. I want them to grasp the benefits straight away.

4. Make it scannable

Most readers tend to read the first 3 and last 3 words of a headline (according to CoSchedule), so you need to make them count.

Whenever you write a headline, ask yourself — could I read just the first and last 3 words of my headline and have an idea of what the article would be about?

Because if your article headline is “Here’s How To Change A Lightbulb In Just A Few Minutes”, then you need to rework it.

By the above logic, the reader will read “Here’s How To” and “A Few Minutes” and you’ve not grabbed their attention. They’ve gone elsewhere as a result.

But if you go with a headline like “Change Your Lightbulb In Under A Minute With These Easy Tips”, it works.

The user sees “Change Your Lightbulb” and “These Easy Tips”. They know it’s about changing their lightbulb, that you’re telling them what to do, and that you’ve made it easy for them. Even though the ‘under a minute’ part isn’t in the first or last 3 words, it still gets to the point much more than the first example.

The fact they’re Googling it suggests they find it complex or challenging. Thus, adding a reassuring adjective such as ‘easy’ only increases your chances of getting traffic. Like my headline, it provides an emotional benefit to the reader by making them feel in control of their problem.

This example is also more user-focused thanks to the second-person pronoun ‘you’, which makes it that bit more powerful and is proven to be effective in headlines.

Here’s another brilliant example of how to utilise the first and last 3 words of your headline (I’ll return to this example later on.)

5. Use numbers

I can’t emphasise enough how pivotal numbers are in the success of your headline. You need to use them any chance you get, provided they’re relevant to your content.

They indicate to the user that your article is easy-to-read, which is especially important if that person is struggling with a complex problem.

You can see why numbers are so effective looking at this example. If I read a headline that said ‘How to become a better writer’ and then this, I’d click on this article every single time.

There are so many instances in which you can lead with numbers, such as:

“7 Ways To”

“10 Steps To”

“5 Tips For”

It’s like I said above — and I’ll repeat myself just to ram the point home — numbers make complex challenges seem easy to solve.

Instead of thinking, ‘How am I ever going to get from A to Z’, the reader sees how to get from A to B to C and so on.

Your blog post gives them the building blocks they need, and is with them each step of the way.

This, again, heightens the reader’s trust in you.

Prime numbers tend to work really well from my experience, i.e., 5, 7, 11, and 13, as do whole numbers like 10, 15, and 20.

Sometimes, mixing it up and including a completely random and large number can work well, too (here’s a blog post I wrote for a past employer which ranks #1 on Google for ‘common cycling terms’).

6. Add years (where appropriate)

Put yourself in the user’s shoes.

Let’s say you’re searching for the best golf clubs for beginners.

Are you going to be more likely to click on a headline that just says ‘Best golf clubs for beginners’, or ‘The 10 Best Beginner Golf Clubs On The Market In 2023’?

I'd like to think most people would click on the latter, and not just because it's written in full prose or contains a number, but because of the addition of the year.

This small addition suddenly makes your article seem contemporaneous. Up-to-date. Relevant.

Whatever adjective you want to use, your article is helping someone in the here and now — not 5 years ago, like a lot of articles. It’s good to go right this second.

If you’re a writer, you need to use years in your headlines whenever you’re writing a middle or bottom-of-the-funnel piece promoting products or solutions.

As a side note, I’ve often found success in adding years in brackets without using the preposition “in”. For example — 10 SEO Tools You Need To Use For Your ECommerce Business [2023].

7. Use tools to analyse your headline before publishing

Even if you’ve followed the above steps and think your headline is so good it could solve world hunger, you should still run it through a few tools to get different perspectives and look for opportunities to make marginal gains.

I’ve mentioned the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer several times in this post, so I don’t need to go over that again. But yeah, use it.

Another tool I recommend is the Sharethrough Headline Analyzer

Alert Words are words that are designed to invoke anxiety in the reader — think ‘fear of missing out’ context. If they don’t click on your headline, their problem will persist.

The context words suggestion is another cool feature — you can find out what Sharethrough considers to be context words here.

You have to take some of its suggestions with a pinch of salt. I wouldn’t add a celebrity to my headline for obvious reasons, nor do I think adding a brand name is necessary.

If you do want to have your brand name in your headline, you need to be very careful with this — it compromises your headline length (and potentially its quality). But if you’re dead set on having it, make sure you separate entities with a dash instead of a pipe (this thing | ).

So like this…

The Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool from HigherVisibility is another great resource and is free to use. It shows you how your headline and meta description will appear on search engines, and you can tweak the word and character counts if need be.

(SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, for anyone who doesn’t know).

There you have it. Nail these 7 points and traffic is on its way to you.

If you want me to write your headlines for you, or have any general questions about content writing and SEO, drop me an email at


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