5 Ways to Create a Catchy Headline

Headline: How to create a catchy headlineYou’ve seen it before, “create a catchy title or headline to your content and people will click on it.” But then you scan the rest of the article searching for how do you exactly create a catchy headline?

The Content Marketing Institute stated last month that in their research effective headlines have one or more of the following tactics:

  • Have 8 words or fewer (21% higher click thru rate or CTR)
  • Use questions to provoke thought
  • Use lists with odd numbers rather than even numbers in the title (20% higher CTR)
  • Use colons or hyphens indicating a subtitle (9% higher CTR)
  • Use thumbnail pictures (27% higher CTR)
There were some skeptics in the comments who stated that the post needed more depth. Why 8? Why odd numbers and not even numbers? All good questions. Let’s answer them.
Why 8 words or fewer? Well, there’s no definitive answer in the APA guidelines and I found that the only thing that was worthy of an explanation was that of SEOMoz said that for search engine optimization, Google only picks up the first 70 characters. The average English word has 4.5 letters so, in that case, you could use up to 15.5 words in your title. But our attention spans tend to pick up the keywords and not the prepositions so, cutting that number in half would make sense.
Why odd numbers and not even numbers? Well it seems many have researched this question. In summary:
  • Odd numbers appear more scientific and legitimate. That’s why Listerine kills 99% of germs instead of 100%
  • The numeral draws the readers eye when scanning. People remember odd numbers more easily than even numbers.
  • In marketing, the Law of Specificity states that people are more likely to believe information if it is specific rather than general.
  • Odd numbers are more associated with males than females. It is thought that the masculine traits such as dominance and independence may have some impact on “accuracy” and other gender biases.
Realistically, I just find that our attention spans have decreased with the rate of information coming at us these days, so less is more. Here are 5 examples of catchy headlines:
  • Salon shoes – 30% off
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • 3 Ways You Can Help End Hunger
  • Study: Domestic violence affects 1 out of 4
  • How to Write Headlines that Work
What do you think creates a good headline? What do you think about the odd vs even and the number of 8 words or less?
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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.


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