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Rachel Rayner

Published on

February 17, 2016


clickbait, content

What makes people click? The headline.

“Clickbait” is often derided as useless, “fluffy” content which isn’t worth reading – but those juicy titles do make people click. Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed have perfected the art of the headline, and we can learn a lot from them.

A whopping 80 per cent of readers never make it past the headline. Only 20 per cent go on to read the article. Upworthy, a website which is driven by reader clicks, has found that traffic can vary by as much as 500 per cent depending on the headline.

If Content is King, then the headline is the power behind the throne.

We’ve listed the eight types of headline favoured by clickbait, and three headline tools to help your next piece of content go viral.

The 8 Types Of Headlines You Should Be Using

1. The Question

When we see a question, we’re primed to answer it. In the case of headlines, by clicking. Can you relate?2. The Number.

Quantifiable pieces tend to perform well, because they feel achievable. From the title, we can guess how long they’ll take to read, and what value we’ll get out of them. Plus, unlike some clickbait titles, they deliver what they promise.

3. The How To

Show people how to live better, eat well, solve a problem. Headlines like the ones below perform well because they promise to solve an issue (like a lack of organisation and feeling stressed) that most people struggle with. Of course, clicking on a link won’t help us de-stress or unclutter our homes – but the promise is irresistible.

4. The Direct Speech

Draw the reader into the story by talking to them directly. In the below example, they talk about the signs you’ve found the partner you should marry, addressing the specific reader, not just the generic.

Similarly, headlines that reference a specific author do well. The below example uses a real person (“her”) to add authenticity and reinforce the idea that the reader really can use the kitchen hack themselves.

5. The Bonus

What differentiates listicle headlines? Highlighting one item. In the example below, we can learn 10 Totally Awesome Stories – including one story which is both Awesome and Unreal!

6. The Teacher

There’s always something new to learn in this world of ours. So how about the promise of teaching your audience a skill that they need to do better in work or at home – or even something that might just save their life.

7. The Quick Read

Longer content is shared more often, but you can make a virtue of bite-size content. Take advantage of reader’s short attention spans by highlighting the fact that your content won’t take very long to read.

8. The Teaser

Give away all your information in the headline, and readers won’t give you a click. But what parent wouldn’t click on the example below?

Still stuck for ideas? Try a headline generator.

Since headlines tend to be formulaic, headline generators can be surprisingly effective. Plug in your keywords, and tweak the results to create the perfect headline.

Portent’s Content Idea Generator will turn out not only headlines, but content ideas as well. From the word “headline” we generated:

  • 8 Reasons You Should Be Talking About Headlines
  • The Unconventional Guide to Headlines
  • Why Headlines are More Tempting than a Cinnabon

Any of these headlines would be perfect for this article.

Title Generator isn’t the prettiest website, but it will spit out more than 600 headlines for your keyword. We found:

  • 3 Ways To Master Headlines Without Breaking A Sweat
  • This Study Will Perfect Your Headlines: Read Or Miss Out
  • At Last, The Secret To Headlines Is Revealed.

Tweak Your Biz’s title generator splits up titles into sections like lists, bests, celebrities, and even sex. I would click on the following articles:

  • 10 Reasons Abraham Lincoln Would Be Great At Headlines
  • Wondering How To Make Your Headlines Rock? Read This!
  • Give Me 10 Minutes, I’ll Give You The Truth About Headlines

Just for a bit of fun, the Clickbait Headline Generator will deliver you nonsense headlines. It doesn’t allow you to input a subject, but it suggests titles such as:

  • This Video Will Prove You’ve Been Peeling Lettuce Wrong Your Whole Life!
  • 71 Maps All Chinese Women Love
  • An Ordinary Joe Tries To Fight A Hedgehog. The Reason Why Will Make You Cry.

So what are you waiting for? Tweak your headlines. You won’t believe what happens next.

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