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8 Headline Formulas That Drive Most Viral Blog Posts

15 March 2017 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

Headline tips for viral content

Every content producer, brand or blog dreams of having their content go viral and to do that takes a lot of hard work, from research, writing, optimising, amplifying and more. While I could ramble on in detail about each of these elements today I'll be focusing on the gateway to viral content, the headline. One of the key elements to viral content is the headline, it's the first point of contact with the user and needs to entice readers. So how do you write a great headline?

I could easily have made that the title of this blog post — but then you wouldn’t be reading it right now. The word “write” is passive, “good” is vague and bland, and the title as a whole indicates no value or urgency to the reader.

Anatomy of a headline

A great headline combines the following 3 elements:

1. Clear and valuable

Make sure your title clearly conveys what your reader will gain from reading your article or blog post.

2. Colourful

If possible, use vivid language to grab the reader’s attention. This can certainly be a challenge for B2B bloggers who write about, for example, the textile manufacturing industry — but it’s entirely possible. If you need inspiration, check out this list of “power words”. You may not find a way to use “cadaver” in a headline (let me know if you do!), but the list is packed with other, more business-appropriate language that will help your blog post stand out.

3. SEO-friendly

Your headline should be no more than 55 characters to ensure it won’t be truncated by search engines while you have around 60 - 80 characters to play with for social media platforms. Search engines also take keyword placement into consideration. For example, a title like “Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived” would likely rank higher for the search term “Harry Potter” than “The Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter” since Harry Potter has the higher keyword volume, the emphasis should be on that keyword.

For more on writing killer headlines check out our article Get Better CTR’s With 8 Headline Optimisation Tips

Headline formulas

Now that we’ve gone over the basics for writing high-quality blog post headlines, let’s dive into the eight tried-and-true formulas that are guaranteed to drive click through and along with it traffic to your website.

1. Number + Valuable Resources

Example: 53+ Free Image Sources for Your Blog and Social Media Posts This was Buffer’s most-read blog post in 2014, and for good reason. “Listicles” are a hit online because of their easy-to-read (or more realistically, easy-to-skim) format. Not only that, but the word “free” adds, even more, value to a post that already promises a wealth of useful resources.

Protip: According to the Content Marketing Institute, headlines that contain even numbers have a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with odd numbers. (As you can see, we took advantage of that statistic for this post — and you’re reading it, so it must have worked!)

2. Number + Expert Advice

Example: 5 Experts Share Top Social Media Advice for Nonprofits Who doesn’t want advice from the experts in their field? Bring on the Logos (the Greek kind, not the brand identity kind) to let readers know you’re providing them with information from trustworthy sources.

3. “How To” + A Useful Skill

Example: How to Go Viral: Lessons From the Most Shared Content of 2015 Who doesn’t love a good how-to? This blog post title gets straight to the point, promising to teach you an elusive skill that few have mastered. Make sure you don’t oversell your post, though. Promising your reader they’ll learn how to write the next great American novel may make them click, but they’re bound to leave the page disappointed.

4. “Research-Backed” + A Bold or Controversial Statement

Example: How to Be Cool: 5 Research-Backed Tips Psh, as if an article can really tell me how to be cool, I thought to myself as I pushed my taped-together glasses up the bridge of my nose. But then I noticed that these tips are backed by scientific research, and my interest was piqued. This isn’t a topic that’s usually discussed so frankly, and certainly not in terms of research. This novelty, along with the promise of data, is what makes the headline so effective.

5. Number + Urgency

Example: Revealed: 19 Things to Know Before You Start a Blog When I see this headline, I’m convinced the writer knows something I don’t, and I want to be let in on their secrets — now. The word “before” is especially effective. If the reader doesn’t already have a blog, this post is going to be a valuable resource. If they do have a blog, they may be concerned they’re missing out on some important tips.

6. How these + solutions + helped me in + situations

Example: How these content marketing tips helped me double my traffic These sorts of headlines tend to grab people's attention because it speaks to sincerity and is very endearing. In a world of fake news, this style of headline easily cuts through the clutter, it provides real life experience the good and the bad. This type of content can also appeal to a larger audience over and above your original target, by attracting users who are not experts on a certain subject. But would read through it because they expect the content to be a trial and error process and an easy to understand user guide or tutorial to follow.

7. Number + Mistakes + Area of expertise should avoid

Example: 10 Mistakes Social Media Managers should avoid This one sort of grabs two types of readers. The majority of which wants to improve what they do on a daily basis, novice and expert alike and if they can avoid downfalls or find better ways of executing tasks why not spend a few minutes reading how to do just that. While the minority seeks vindication and wants to know that all they have been doing is top notch according to industry standards. Very powerful stuff for B2B and business related content.

8. How Product Vs + Product which is better for + reason

Example: How Buffer beats Hootsuite when managing Instagram accounts Product reviews have always been popular content to go viral. People crave information to avoid post-purchase cognitive dissonance and while general product reviews are great, there are people looking to use a product for a specific task and they want to know which one is the best. Creating product reviews based on certain tasks allows you to drive multiple angles on the same content, making content creation easier while it also allows you to dominate for multiple niche queries.

The headline act

Now, remember, just because you can now write killer headlines that will get people clicking and reading doesn't mean you can skimp on the content, this is what is going to drive the value and get people to share your content. The headline is only to get your foot in the door or grab the headline skimmers attention.

Contact us

If you want to know more about content marketing for your site don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us here Source: Buffer, Buzzsumo, Buzzfeed

Tags: Content Marketing, How to, SEO

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