4 Blog Headline Types To Increase Traffic and Content Engagement

by Sarah Hayes on January 02, 2017

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Do you have blog headline anxiety? Are you worried that your blog headlines are failing to draw anyone's interest? Maybe it's time to experiment with new blog headline types and formats. Here are four headline options that readers can't help but click and they really can impact your blog traffic. Where can your headlines branch out?

1. Negative Angle Format

Don't be afraid to go negative! ...At least, within limits. The right kind of negative headlines can help draw in interested readers by showing them what not to do. You shouldn't insult anyone, but headlines like "10 Facebook Mistakes to Avoid in 2017" can be very successful. Part of the reason is that avid online readers face a vast amount of information to absorb. Going "negative" means that you are actually removing things from their mental registry, and everyone likes a little extra brain space, especially when heading into a new year of planning and projects.

If you are having trouble coming up with enough "mistakes" or negative things to avoid, consider your past projects and mistakes that your company has made. There's nothing like a personal oops to help inspire and convince.

2. Secret Of Format

Secret Of headlines promise to reveal something special – a trick or feature that the reader can use to help solve one of their problems. "The Secret of a Perfect Cement Pour" could talk about a product or process, while, "The Secret Behind Doubling Your Web Traffic" could discuss a specific tool or strategy that can really make a difference for your content.

The danger of Secret posts is that they can easily stray into deep clickbait territory where you aren't actually revealing anything useful, but rather creating a clickbait headline around mediocre and repeated content. This can be poisonous for your blog, because once readers realize that you aren't actually saying something new or applicable, they'll stop visiting, and you'll lose traffic quickly. Always base your "secret" on clear evidence. Charts and videos work well here where applicable.

3. List Format

The List format is successful for a couple reasons. For one, it's easy. It promises readers that they are going to get a clearly delineated article with short sections. If necessary, readers know that they can just peruse the list sub-headings to see if there's any information that they want. It makes for a very digestible article that won't waste anyone's time. Yes, there is a place for longform and thought leadership content that goes into essay-like depth. But listicles take care of the other side of the spectrum – prospects who don't have that much time and want the bottom line (or rather, several bottom lines clearly laid out).

The other useful feature about listicles is that they can apply to nearly anything. Both negative and secret articles, for example, can be in a list format. So can news pieces, product tips, and even new brand announcements.

4. Question Format

Question headlines are tricky to use these days, but can be very powerful when done correctly. A question heading has powerful engagement, immediately challenging the reader to consider the subject and what they know about it...which then often leads to them reading the rest of the article. The problem is that there are a lot of question headlines on the internet, and many of them are done poorly.

The general rule goes: "If your question can be answered 'yes' or 'no' then no one will read your article." So create more open-ended questions that make people think about potential answers instead of writing you off. If you can think of an appropriate, well-crafted open question, then your headline probably shouldn't be a question at all but a statement.

Worried About Headlines? Use a Tool!

So, now you have several different headline blog headline types to try out. But we're betting some of you are still worried: After all, picking a headline type can be a simple process – but writing the headline, that's where the challenge comes in. Are you worried that your attempts at writing headlines are falling flat? Use a tool to analyze it! We're fans of CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer, which allows you to plug in a headline and run some basic quality and SEO tests on it.

 blog optimization easy checklist

Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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