12 sick tricks to writing the best headlines on the internet

Ever found yourself clicking on an article that you didn’t need to read but you couldn’t resist clicking? You just couldn’t help yourself? Though it would be just like every other article on the topic – you still clicked?

Well, you’re not alone – and it’s all actually down to simple psychological triggers. Getting users to click on your content and bring that traffic onto your website is all down to getting your title right – and with these 12 clever tricks, readers quite simply won’t be able to stop themselves looking at your content!

Start with the topic and understanding your readers

First, the value matrix. Get into your reader’s psychology and understand not just they want, but what they need. You can use Buzzsumo to research the topics in your niche that people are already interested in and use that to get you started.

For what the publisher needs, this is usually good content for their site and for you and your site, this is usually a link, but sometimes you can offer/earn more. Giving that little bit extra (for instance offering something for free, like a free downloadable pdf) can often earn the publisher and us a bit of online love in term of reputation and links. So, think outside the box!

Now, let’s write!

  1. Now write your basic title. Lay the foundations.

Eg. “good breeds of dog to own”

  1. Craft it with CQESS. Always try and use at least one of these.


Stands for…




You’ll never guess…” “exposed” “revealed…”



Did you know…?”



Work out the problem the readership have or what they want – “I bet you wish X…”



everything you know about X is wrong” “I bet you didn’t know X” “X amount of people are unable to do this simple task”



“X of start-ups don’t make it past the first 2 years” “Learn how I made $1.7M in 2 weeks with this simple change”

Eg. for the “good breeds of dog to own” title:

Curiosity – Doggy lovers reveal the 5 best breeds of dogs to own (including Specifics)

Question – Which are the best breeds of dog to own? Top breeds exposed (including Curiosity) / Did you know these five are the best breed of dog to own?

Empathy – Finding the perfect best friend: the most gorgeous and friendly dog breeds ever

Surprise – Dog fans shocked by top five rated best breeds (including Specifics)

Statistics – 80% of dog lovers agree that these are the best dog breeds to own

  1. Curiosity/Empathy – Use rationale words:
      1. Reasons
      2. Principles
      3. Facts
      4. Lessons
      5. Ideas
      6. Way
      7. Secrets
      8. Tricks

OR Use trigger words: why, what, how or when. Why and how are most common. For instance “why this is best” or “how to be the best at this”.

5. Specifics – Use numbers. Listicles are particularly popular at the moment. People have a short attention span nowadays, so numbered posts are most clickable since we know immediately that an article is broken up into nice bite-sized pieces. Alternatively this leads back to the “specific” S of CQESS; guide people in with interesting data or specific details. Don’t be vague!

The key part

6. Make a promise. Don’t over-promise, but be bold! Providing something useful to the reader is what it all comes down to; this comes back to understanding your reader’s wants and needs. What is useful to them? What is interesting to them?

Bonus bits to include if you can:

7. Slip in some sexy adjectives. They’re emotive, they’re intriguing, and they catch the eye. Make them strong (even better if they are negative, like “people hate this” etc.) to make them emotive. Add allure with some alliteration.

8. Include extra components, and show them in brackets:

9. Be urgent. You may notice that sales in shop windows and on the telly in retail adverts, all have a deadline because we need a sense of urgency to act (or to buy). The same goes for content. The title is our advert for our content, and people need a reason to read it now. Use words like: “soon”, “right now”, “now”, “immediately”, and “today” to add urgency.

Eg. “Sneaky techniques you can start using right now to improve your title writing”.

Address the reader where appropriate: use “you” or the name of the group they belong to. For instance, “all bloggers struggle with this…” “Use these techniques SEO experts rate the best at achieving fast results”.

SEO it!

11. Keep it short SEO MOFO to check the length, and make sure it all appears okay before uploading, or if you’re using WordPress, check it using the Yoast or All In One SEO Pack plugins.

12. Put the keyword as close to the start of the title as you can – Google gives priority to the words at the start of the title in search results, so for search it’s important to give important target words priority.

Simple as that folks! Test which titles work for you best by reviewing how your content performs in the Pages report in Google Analytics, and see what your audience likes best as all niches are different. Then let us know what worked well for you! We’d love to hear how your title-writing went and share your excellent, eye-catching content with others.

Thanks to Craig for featuring us on his world class blog, and keep following this space for more excellent content from himself!

@EmilyFedorowycz @BrightDesignUK