Posted on Apr 21, 2017

10 Ideas for Creating Click-Worthy Blog Post Titles

When it comes to creating business blog posts, you’re facing some steep hurdles. On the low end, some estimates put the number of blog posts published each day at more than 2 million – others range as high as 17.75 million. Regardless of where the actual number falls, it’s safe to say that you’re up against some pretty serious competition for the attention of your target audience.

And yet, despite this, too many publishers fill the web with boring content that wastes both the time of the publisher and the intended audience. Imagine that you’re a dentist, writing blog posts in the hopes of attracting local customers. You know that your clients struggle with proper brushing technique, so you decide to publish a piece titled, “How to Brush Your Teeth Better.”

You may think the topic is important – and let’s face it, it probably is – but would you, yourself, click open an article with such a bland, boring title? Would you take time out of your busy day to read through a blog post like that? We’re guessing not, but you might be more interested if the same content was published under the title, “Could Your Bad Brushing Technique Be Leading to Cavities?”

Why Headlines Matter

Intuitively, you may understand why the first headline example shared above won’t produce the same kinds of traffic as the second example. But let’s back that up with some numbers:

web activity growth chart

Considering that Upworthy’s content reaches more than 5 million people monthly, Koechley’s words can’t be ignored. How can you take advantage of his insights? The answer may come down to the proper use of headline formulas.

What are Headline Formulas?

A headline formula is, just as it sounds, a particular structure used for building an engaging article title that’s likely to drive interest and clicks.

To some, the use of these predetermined structures may sound like cheating, but when used properly, headline formulas let you take advantage of proven psychological principles to get your content the attention it deserves.

Let’s break down 10 of the most common headline formulas you might use on your website:

“How To [Do Something]”

When most of us need to learn something new, we turn to Google, asking “how to” questions designed to get us the information we need. Writing articles like these not only helps your website’s visitors – they can increase the odds that your pages will be displayed in the search results when these questions are asked.

Here are a few examples of this particular formula, continuing with our dentist example from above:

  • How to Choose the Right Electric Toothbrush
  • How to Find a Local Dentist (Who Won’t Rip You Off)
  • How to Afford Dentist Visits When You Don’t Have Insurance

Seeing how these headline formulas are conjugated should give you plenty of inspiration on how to create engaging topics based on common issues within your own industry.

“[X] [Adjective] [Nouns] You [Need to Know]”

Forgive us if this formula’s a little vague – it’ll make more sense once we get to actual examples:

  • 10 Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Toothpaste
  • 7 Killer Dental Tricks You Can Use to Prevent Cavities
  • 15 Important Questions You Need to Ask When Choosing a Dentist

You’ll see headlines like these referred to online as “listicles” or “list post,” but it isn’t just the number that’s important. The adjective use makes the noun in question more appealing, while the formula’s concluding statement offers a compelling reason to click in.

“What [Group of People] Get Wrong About [Important Topic]”

Nobody likes to be in the wrong. That’s why, when we see ourselves called out as part of a group featured in a headline, we’re more likely to click in for more information.

For example:

  • What Most Moms Get Wrong About Pediatric Dentistry
  • What Self-Employed Workers Get Wrong About Dental Insurance
  • What Many Senior Citizens Get Wrong About Dentures

“[X] Mistakes [Group of People] Makes”

A related headline formula makes the feeling of “being in the wrong” even more pronounced by calling out the mistakes different groups are making.

Possible headline conjugations include:

  • 7 Mistakes Athletes Make That Put Their Teeth At Risk
  • 10 Flossing Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making
  • 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Scheduling Your Next Dental Appointment

This particular format also leverages the appeal of the list post, described above. Our brains love list posts because, as Maria Konnikova describes in The New Yorker:

“Once we click, lists tap into our preferred way of receiving and organizing information at a subconscious level; from an information-processing standpoint, they often hit our attentional sweet spot. Lists also appeal to our general tendency to categorize things—in fact, it’s hard for us not to categorize something the moment we see it—since they chunk information into short, distinct components.”

Psychology aside, you can notice this impact in your own browsing behavior. How often have you clicked open a list-style post, without even thinking about why you’re doing it? Use this same subconscious effect to capture your reader’s attention with posts like these.

“How [Something Innocuous] Is Putting You At Risk”

Just like we don’t like to be wrong, we also don’t like knowingly putting ourselves in danger. A headline formula like this can be used both to intrigue readers and to disseminate important information that they need to know.

Here are a few examples:

  • How Sedation Dentistry Is Putting You At Risk
  • How Your Flossing Habits Are Putting You At Risk
  • How Your Old Mercury Fillings Are Putting You At Risk

“Get Rid of [Your Problem] Once and For All”

We all like immediate solutions – there’s a reason “get rich quick” and “lose weight fast” infomercials still sell. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you lie to your readers about solutions your products or services can’t actually offer, but you can use this headline formula to get their attention long enough to share your information.

  • Get Rid of Your Yellow Teeth Once and For All
  • Get Rid of Your Hot-Cold Sensitivity Once and For All
  • Get Rid of Your Crooked Smile Once and For All

This formula in particular taps into the idea of building content around your customers’ pain points, which we talked about in our previous blog about considering your audiences’ pain points.

Remember, the more you can tailor the content you create around the problems your readers are actually experiencing, the better able you’ll be to capture their attention and score article click-throughs.

“You Won’t Believe How [Thing, Person or Group of People] [Did Something Notable]”

If the last few headline formulas have seemed to rely too much on the negative, this structure gives you the chance to position your content in a more positive light. It’s also a great way to feature any case studies you have of successful customers using your products or services.

For example, you could try:

  • You Won’t Believe How These Moms Got Their Kids to Brush Their Teeth
  • You Won’t Believe How This Librarian Transformed Her Smile
  • You Won’t Believe The Difference These New Invisible Braces Can Make

This headline formula, in particular, shouldn’t be abused. If you run too many articles that start off, “You won’t believe,” eventually… people will start to believe!

“The Secret Behind [Something Notable]”

This headline formula leverages the all powerful FOMO – the fear of missing out. Nobody wants to feel like they’re missing out on something, and the use of the wording “the secret” provokes this exact feeling.

Try it like this:

  • The Secret Behind Modern Sedation Dentistry
  • The Secret Behind Celebrity Smiles
  • The Secret Behind Veneers: 10 Questions to Ask Your Dentist

The last example in the list above actually combines two headline formulas, creating a powerful combination out of FOMO and the impact of list posts.

“Why [X] Does [Y]: What You Need to Know”

The phrase “what you need to know” has the same impact as “the secret”; essentially, you’re counting on the fact that your readers don’t want to be left in the dark.

Put it all together like this:

  • Why Regular Cleanings Keep You Healthy: What You Need to Know
  • Why Do Dental Cleanings Hurt? What You Need to Know
  • Why You Need to Wear Your Retainer: What You Need to Know

“A [Subject Matter Expert] Answers Your Top [X] Questions on [Subject]”

Finally, this last headline formula lets you build on the authority you, others in your business or others in your industry have built.

Possible examples include:

  • A Cosmetic Dentist Answers Your Top 5 Questions on Veneers
  • A Dental Billing Specialist Shows You 7 Ways to Save on Dental Care
  • An Award-Winning Dentist Tells You How to Protect Your Teeth While Playing Football

As you can see, there’s flexibility with all of these different headline formulas. You don’t need to follow them exactly; instead, you can mix and match to suit the needs and preferences of your audience.

Get creative, and put these guidelines to work by brainstorming new blog post ideas your readers are sure to love.

Got another headline structure that’s proven effective for your audience? Leave us a comment below with your best suggestions:



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