23 Tips on How to Write Better Titles for Your Ads and Web Pages

The clickable title is the most common link on the internet. Titles that managed to get our attention make up the majority of our clicks.

 

The title is the first step in the door of the customer’s perception: it’s the thing that determines whether or not someone proceeds to see your content. You might have the most amazing content in your niche, but it will go unnoticed if people don’t click to see it.

 

Attention spans on the internet have never been shorter as we are constantly bombarded with fresh content and socially engineered to crave more of it. Decisions are made in a split second, and many of us click through to see content based on the impression from a title alone, sometimes without even giving the few lines of description a proper read.

 

In some cases, people will even go straight to action based on the title alone, since their desire to purchase something is so strong they won’t want to break the predisposition your title created for them. Their bias for a positive result and a desire to fulfill their goal of getting the item they were searching for will actually make them ignore any data that might weaken their resolve and foil the initial plan of purchase.

 

Last time we introduced the Clickbait Scale, so before you proceed, we highly recommend you give it a read. It’ll give you an easy frame to place your title in and help you avoid shameless clickbaits that will deter users instead of entice them:

Should You Use Clickbait Titles? Pros and Cons

 

So, in this quick guide, we will give you a few pointers which will hopefully help you write better titles and get more people to see that content.

We will also explore some of the “dark side” of titles. The Clickbait Realm.

 

1. Title mindfulness – research from the inner self

This one is so simple and obvious that we might actually neglect it since we do it so automatically. This is the first stage in your quest to improve your titles. The moment you click any title, stay in the moment and explore your mind – what made you click this title over all others?

 

Was it phrased rather blandly but matched exactly what you were looking for, or was it phrased in a certain way that made it appear intriguing and promising?

 

Collect a list of 10 titles that caught your attention and consider them as a possible template.

 

The most “honest” way to explore this is not to just go actively search for titles after reading these lines, but rather to capture those moments when you truly search for something.

 

After that, you must also analyze the content and see if it was high-quality content that kept you on the site to subscribe or buy, or was it a misleading title that didn’t deliver on its promise? Did it make you gain or lose trust in the source?

 

2. Learn from the classics

The art of writing captivating titles the way we know them today actually dates back to the early 20th century when pioneers of advertising paved the way to copywriting as we know it today. Titles of that time were as shameless as the worst clickbait you can imagine. In the booming consumer-powered economy before and during the Great Depression, advertising experts developed consumer enticement to a near science.

 

One of the most well-known pioneers of this art is John Caples, who wrote a handful of books about advertising. His well-known and brilliant titles include this gem:

 

You don’t have to go all in and read books from that time period if you don’t have the time. Using some of these classic templates might actually be a clever and original way to draw people just on the merit of their “retro” vibe.

 

 

3. Use numbers and lists

People love lists and order. Most lists provide important bits of information on a certain topic in an orderly structure .

 

The length of the list depends on the subject that’s being searched. Some search terms will work better with quick short lists, while other topics will warrant a longer list. It also depends on the type of visitor you’re aiming to interest – whether it’s someone looking for a comprehensive read or someone after a quick summary.

 

Use prime and typological numbers if you can, since they’re more appealing. Heinz famously used the number 57 in their brand, even without actually marketing 57 different flavors, and this number since became a staple of marketing pop culture.

 

The best number to use is possibly 7, since it has an almost mystical presence and has been used in “marketing” in religions since the Sumerians. It’s the number with the most cultural significance to most people of virtually all ages. If you want a fun way to test this, write the number 7 on a note and ask a group of people to think of a number between 1 and 10. After that, show the note. Chances are, most people in the group will come up with 7 as their choice. Now feel free to start your cult with the ones that were most blown away by your apparent “mind reading”.

 

In fact, if you want a convincing case study in favor of lists and numbers, we can tell you of a little company called BuzzFeed that reached a market worth of 1.5 billion based mostly on lists and number titles.

 

Huge numbers also raise interest. People love big astounding numbers:

 

“Florida man finds $157,000 in a pressure cooker”

“Google deindexed more than 3 MILLION websites following their latest update”

 

4. Learn from the modern masters

Speaking of BuzzFeed, they may have become somewhat of a ridiculed meme online, but what they did worked like a charm.

 

In fact, you should take the time to study their most common patterns and templates and see what conclusions you can draw from them.

 

5. Emotions are more effective than logic

 

People will more likely act on emotion. Countless studies on decision making have shown people are mostly irrational and will be more interested in something that pulls at their emotional strings.

 

Emotions such as shock, anger, desire, greed, fear, pain, etc. might seem at first like bad targets since they are negative, but unfortunately they are very effective triggers, which is why we rarely read “good” headlines. Targeting a customer’s pain points is one of the most common tips you can give to a salesman. Lines such as “Don’t you hate it when…” or “I bet you could use a better…” are such examples.

 

But of course this is the point where we are in danger of venturing into the shady Clickbait Realm. Depending on how you use this principle will determine if your titles are just gently pulling emotional strings or are downright emotionally manipulative towards your audience. We encounter phrasing that evoke emotions on different levels in many internet titles. A few examples:

 

“You may lose as much as $5,000 a year by making this mistake”

“Government bans drug aid said to help with opiate addiction under the influence of Big Pharma”

“Don’t lose your chance to work abroad in the most coveted job on the planet”

“Are your peers at Google making more money than you? A leak reveals”

 

We can also encounter a positive range of emotions, such as comfort, hope, love, and empathy since they can also be powerful triggers. They act as an important and refreshing contrast to the overly negatively saturated titles, and as a result, they somewhat stand out:

 

“What this 7-year-old kid did will restore your faith in humanity”

“A skeptic’s tale: She never thought she would find love” (blog on a dating service)

“How a 78-year-old proved his doctors wrong”

 

6. Invoke curiosity and mystery

Almost all title types rely on this principle to some extent. We are curious creatures by nature. Just check out Leif Erikson as a good case study for that. He went all in with his sense of curiosity.

You won’t believe what lies beyond the ocean!

 

We always want to see what lies behind the horizon and peek behind the curtain. So naturally, any titles that evoke this sensation intensely will have a good chance of pulling readers in. Be careful, however, not to abuse it. Tug at your reader’s curiosity gently instead of going full-blown clickbait.

 

“What this waiter did in his free time shocked his boss”

This is an example on how both sensationalism and curiosity are used without directly addressing the reader. Instead of promising to shock the reader, which might not happen, this present a case that shocked someone in a position of power.

 

“Here is how I increased my CTR by 512% within a month”

 

7. Namedropping

This is also a type of appeal to authority. Mentioning an important name that relates to your subject might add interest to a title and make it seem more credible. Stand on the shoulders of giants and let your readers learn from the people that they respect and admire and who are relevant to your niche.

 

“The reason Steve Jobs was amazing at brand building”

“4 daily routines Stephen King uses for productivity”

“How Jeff Bezos became the richest person that ever walked the earth”

 

8. Use questions

Titles in the form of a question immediately tug at our desire to get an answer. No one likes a question unanswered. This is very common practice and has been used for centuries. Some of these titles date back to the 15th century, with titles such as “Do elephants have knees?” by pioneer of pop science writing, Thomas Browne.

 

“Want a better method to save money? This new app is all you need”

“How much does your kid spend on mobile games?”

“What is the best supplement for the common cold?”

“Which is better, Chrome or Firefox? Let’s find out, once and for all”

“Pigeons threatened your life? This one simple trick will protect you”

 

 

9. Give answers

This one is very straightforward – explicitly stating there will be an answer to an unstated question.

 

“This is why you fail at controlling your addictions”

“This is how to double your traffic within two weeks”

“You will never rank high on Google, and here is why”

 

10. This strange little trick will make you get more clicks

“Will make you” is the keyword here. For some strange reason, this seems to be a highly effective term to use if you want people to click, as Digg found:

 

What’s the allure behind these 3 words? Is it just an appeal to our desire to gain control over something? Whatever the reason may be, it works for now.

 

The market operates on ebb and flow, so if there’s an over-saturation of “will make you” titles, they’ll lose power until they resurface and regain some power. Use them wisely according to how frequently they’re used in your niche, and don’t be tempted to play into trends too much.

 

11. Exaggeration is still effective

We all know when a title’s exaggerated, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

Terms such as “incredible”, “amazing”, “ultimate”, “game-changing”, “you won’t believe”, “will shock you”, etc. are a direct use of exaggeration (at least to some extent).

 

This is a double-edged sword, though, since any exaggerated title will have a hard time delivering the title’s promise, due to its subjective nature. We all suspect that “new and unbelievable weight-loss method” probably isn’t truly unbelievable, so you risk getting a skeptical audience right from the start.

 

If you choose this route and say something is amazing, incredible or mind blowing, you’d better make a candid effort to deliver something that will justify that title. Otherwise, you risk damaging your brand and losing trust in your titles for any future articles.

 

12. Don’t be afraid of edgy and provocative titles

This depends on what niche you operate in.

Some fields are more forgiving than others to such tactics.

This approach should also fit your brand. If you brand your business as a regal snooker hall for gentlemen, then using edgy titles and content is probably not the right approach. But if you’re trying to project a wild and fearless image, then you’re certainly free to use edgier titles.

 

The S- and F-bombs might be inflammatory, but they’re used frequently in search terms. If you incorporate them correctly, you’ll rank for those controversial search terms and get some of that organic traffic. Don’t be afraid to spark some mild controversy if you think it’ll help people see your content (more than mild and you risk brand damage).

 

“5 tips on how to improve your bullshit detector”

“How I stopped giving a shit, and got my dream girl”

 

13. It’s OK if you offer high-end traits

Superlative terms such as: the best, the most, the cheapest, the top, and the easiest belong to this category.

 

Since these are subjective terms, if you provide a convincing case in your content that will justify the title, then it’s a good and non-misleading title. You can’t satisfy everyone since everyone’s “best” is different, but if you convince most, it’s good enough.

 

14. Solve a problem: Easy and simple

Offer a solution to a problem, struggle or pain. If you offer the solution in a simple and easy way, then bonus points to you. The core of many products and services are to solve some kind of problem, or offer a solution to a struggle, and optimize life in some manner. People either actively search for a concrete solutions, or they might not even realize they have a problem or a struggle until you hit that nerve with a sharp title.

 

“10 crazy-simple tricks you can do TODAY to {insert anything that fits}”

“Feeling tired all the time? 7 easy life-hacks to boost your energy”

“These 4 simple solutions will help you save money”

“5 foolproof methods to lose weight”

“4 quick and easy methods to stop watching Jimmy Fallon”

 

15. Yeah, science!

Need icons? Here are 7 amazing science icons that Big Pharma hates, that will make you question everything you know about Steve Jobs (number 5 will shock you!)

 

If you can mention science in the title, that’s great. Appealing to scientific authority and research in any of the title types we mention is good practice. It gives an aura of credibility because ultimately, people mostly trust science, especially when it supports their search bias.

 

Even dogma supporters and lovers of pseudoscience love it when some research pops up that might be spun to support one of their claims — even if only by arbitrary correlation.

 

“Get better sleep with these 4 scientifically proven methods”

“The methods brain experts use to improve their sleep”

“New research confirms that alligators cause floods”

“NASA finds the solution to balding on the moon”

 

Of course, as with all other suggestions, if you mention it, you’d better back up your claim in the content you provide. You don’t want to lose credibility.

 

16. Fight the powa

People love some underdog method or product that subverts or cheats “the system” or the powers that be. They want to be “in” on a secret that the “industry” hates or doesn’t want to be known.

 

“Trainers/doctors hate this quick 6-pack abs method!” is a classic example that we’ve probably all seen at one point or another. This particular version is as clickbait as it gets and is mostly a meme at this point, so it’s better to use a far more subtle and less silly version of this approach.

 

“3 strategies to legally ‘cheat’ Google”

“4 tips to ____ that actually work” (this implies that other tricks in this niche are lies)

“What your bank doesn’t want you to know about investments”

 

Again, it’s easy to slip to Clickbait Realm here, so mind your step!

 

17. Offer exclusivity

Offer something exclusive in your title. People like to be part of an exclusive club or part of a special minority with benefits over others. Perhaps a special deal or discount is happening for a limited time.

 

“You will not hear this SEO advice anywhere else”

 

18. Give a sense of novelty

Include something fresh and new. The search for novel content is one of the major driving forces behind internet marketing. People are always on the lookout for the newest thing.

 

“A new drug promises to reverse aging and time itself”

“The complete 2019 dash-cam buyer’s guide”

 

19. Trendy terms are trendy

Some words carry more of an impact because they’re hyped and used as part of a fleeting trend, and they can therefore garner some extra attention.

 

Examples of that are “fake news”, “Big Pharma”, “fidget spinner”, “life hack”, etc.

 

You can try to connect your content to the hyped word in some way. Let’s say you’re promoting your blog about consumerism. You can write a title such as “Amazing facts and stats about the economy of fidget spinners“.

 

The downside of using trendy words is that the internet is oversaturated with them, and people must’ve seen them already in all possible combinations in a sentence.

 

20. Breaking the mold

Sometimes a title is so weird and quirky it’s actually endearing and makes us click just because it suddenly snaps us out of our browsing “autopilot” trance. They are, however, slightly harder to phrase since they require us to think outside the box and essentially create a unique template. They’re also a gamble, since they can either hit a home run or bomb.

 

21. Place important keywords in the title

Don’t forget to formulate your titles around a keyword that you’re promoting since titles hold SEO value, and many of the titles you’ll see on the first page of the SERP will feature your searched term.

 

As for various shortened search terms that might be popular but not phrased correctly, such as “Adidas ultra boost buy”, Google understands contextual search, so if you target this term in your title, you don’t have to phrase it exactly like that:

 

And, in case you’re struggling to come up with relevant keywords for your websites, we have one of the best keyword methods for you to try with PRT:

How to discover thousands of keywords from just a single keyword for virtually any niche: Step by step visual guide

This method will make you (see what we did there) discover niche long tails with real search volume behind them and not just arbitrary suggestions.

 

22. Track your titles!

So, you did your homework and came up with some solid titles for your webpages to be featured on Google. Now comes one of the most important things to do: track them to make sure they’re displayed as you intended.

 

There are two concerns here:

  1. Google truncates titles with the familiar ellipsis whenever the title is too long:

    The issue is that their maximum width definition changes at times, so you need to keep an eye on your webpage titles, as well as your ranks!
  1. Google will sometimes outright choose a title from your content that, to their method, better fits the search query.

 

Pro Rank Tracker automatically does that for you and shows you the way the title is seen on the SERP along with its organic position on Google:

 

Basically, try to keep it below 54 characters if you can. A short, accurate, witty title is also more appealing and will serve as that guard-piercing jab that will not be telegraphed. Less is more.

 

23. Final caveat – Titles are not everything

We cannot stress this enough – using clickbaits is a tasteless low quality approach to marketing. Some of the tips we gave here, if not used correctly, can easily send you into Clickbait Realm. Trust us, you don’t want no part of that place. It’s a bleak land filled with deceit and shadowy people with trench coats selling wristwatches on the street.

If you go off the deep end with clickbaits and don’t deliver good content to match the title, it WILL cause more harm than good for both SEO and brand building.

 

Bounce rate effect SEO – If Google notices you get many clicks but people don’t stay to read your content, they will deem the content irrelevant and will not advance your ranks.

 

Your goal is to get customers and frequent visitors, not just random people that will click and leave after they see the content doesn’t meet their expectations.

 

As you may have realized, these are general guidelines and not stand-alone methods. You can (and should) mix several of these approaches to create a blast of a title with immense CTR value.

 

Always make an honest attempt to deliver content that matches the title, and diversify and cycle your titles so as not to overuse a good template.

 

The perk here is that good titles even work for an unintended audience. Your title may rise up from the algorithmic soup and hook someone who wasn’t even actively searching for your product, content or service.

 

This isn’t just a guide for Google’s SERP. Building good titles will serve you in many other fields and not just SEO. The title of you Reddit post, the titles of your emails, and the title of that book you’re writing will all benefit. Titles are everywhere, and every one of your rivals will invest time and effort into crafting titles. So should you.

 

If you enjoyed this little guide, check out some of the history behind the clickbait title that dates back to the Roman Empire (yes, really):

How the Notorious Clickbait Title Came to be (+How to Monitor Your Webpage Titles Properly on Google)

 

We have more cool guides and search engine tips planned out for you in 2019, so be sure to subscribe to our blog so you won’t miss out on any upcoming articles.

 


 

About Pro Rank Tracker

PRT is the most advanced SERP tracker on the market, and this is not a “marketing claim”. You can verify everything we say here for yourself.

 

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