7 Headline Writing Links You Shouldn’t Ignore

7 Headline Writing Links You Shouldn’t Ignore

Reader Comments (28)

  1. I don’t like headline formulas. They are a lazy way to write copy. And seldom work as well as they did when they were originally used.

    What works for me is the headline writing thought process. I learnt this trick from ace copywriter Gordon Alexander.

    Take a pen and paper. Draw a stick figure on the piece of paper. Draw a circle around him. This is your prospect. He is in the bubble of pre-occupation. What is the one thing you can say to him to burst through the bubble and win his attention? Say that.

    This works better than fitting your big idea into a cliche headline formula. Because your focus will be on your audience – not on the semantics of writing copy.

    • Which is why I clearly wrote:

      “… do not copy and paste (or, swipe) them wholesale. If you do, you’ll quickly run up against that problem of context, and he is a merciless teacher. You must understand why these formulas work before employing them.”


      “… don’t just copy and paste them on top of your article. Dig deeper, work to understand why these formulas work, and then make them your own.”


      “Use these links. Read them. Re-read them. Most importantly, understand why these formulas work.”

    • Headline formulas are a great learning tool. It’s unfortunate that people still play “Madlibs” with them instead of gaining a deeper understanding of why certain headlines work the way they do, despite all the warnings Robert and I give people every time.

      • That speaks the most to me – if you aren’t learning why all this stuff works (headlines, landing pages, design, etc.) then you are missing a big part of the picture.

    • Swiping from successful headlines isn’t lazy. Think of it as learning how to shoot a basketball, or swing a golf club, or how to write in long hand, or to cook an omelette. There’s a process/recipe in how to produce stuff that works well. Sure, you can twist it around, give it a makeover or something, but the basics would still be there.

  2. I love headlines posts, I recently when through Jon’s book (headline hacks) and got a pile of great ideas I already started to put to work. Unlike Ankesh (the comment before mine) I do love headlines and even if you think of them as lazy way to write copy, that is what I want, lol. I am not a copywriter so any help is more than appreciated. Thanks for sharing this Robert πŸ™‚

  3. My understanding both from this list and reading other Copyblogger headline advice seems to boil down to always write for the human reader first with headlines. However, many advise to write for the search engines as well putting keywords in as the first few words etc. Few, if any of the examples given on these lists do that.

    So is your advice to essentially not worry about inbound/search factors with headlines unless it just happens to work out that way when writing for your readers?

    • Remember also that keywords are simply the language the audience uses when they search. Well before search engines existed, copywriters did everything they could to discover the language of the audience and use it when speaking to them. So, the way you serve up a title for search (using an alternate title tag) will often be different than what you show on the page, but both versions have to be compelling to people (because it’s people who use search engines, too). πŸ˜‰

  4. I think that the main point of this article and every article here on copyblogger is to strike creativity and faith in your ability to communicate effectively, not to give readers information that will make them look stupid or redundant. I’ve literally stolen headlines from copyblogger, changed them 15 or 20 times until it is nothing like the original. That’s the idea.

  5. Hello Robert,

    Headlines are most important part of content copies, ad copies even TV news. So we have to be creative, if we want to hit the right spot and all these Copyblogger resource are great to get some idea about being creative with headlines.

    Some post even share some hit syntax of headline that we can use by tweaking it little bit for better response…

    Thanks for such wonderful resources….. πŸ™‚

  6. When I first began my blog, I thought clever headlines were the way to go. Go against the grain and get people’s attention. Then I learned the term, “keywords.” They still make me want to gag, but I’m learning to conform.

  7. This is a really useful post, and I think the comments posted after have led to an interesting discussion. Personally, I think there will always be a conflict between the need to create content that is valuable to a human reader but still attractive enough to Google and other SEs, but it’s all about getting the balance right. What’s more important, copy that is enjoyed and shared by the people who read it or keyword-stuffed copy that simply sits at the top of search engine results without actually compelling readers to act on it?

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