How to: Craft Effective Headlines and Increase CTR

How to create headlines that can obtain high CTR

Most online readers take only a few seconds before deciding whether or not they are interested in what you have to say in your article. After spending hours planning and writing, you certainly don’t want the readers to miss out on your great content just because your headline fails to grab their attention in those few seconds.

That, fellow content writers and bloggers, is why you need to take at least five minutes on every article post to brainstorm an effective title. And by ‘effective’, I mean it must obtain high click-through rate (CTR).

A well-tailored headline has always been the key to get readers clicking through to your article. Fact. But what exactly makes a headline able to generate lots of clicks?

Outbrain, a leading content recommendation engine on the Web, looked through data on 150,000 article headlines or titles in an effort to learn more about what actually makes readers click through. The purpose of this research is to offer content publishers and marketers insight into headline characteristics that get the desired click-through. Here are some of the findings:

  • Length does matter

A long headline can explain what’s in the article better than the short one. Also, with more than 5 words it’s much easier to include keywords – which add relevance to the content.

Outbrain’s researchers concluded that eight words was the ideal length for a headline. These titles, according to the result of the analysis, received up to 21% higher click-through rate than the shorter ones.

  • Questions (and exclamations?) work

Headlines that end with question marks have more ability to provoke thought. That’s why the result showed that titles which ended with a question mark had a higher CTR than those that ended without one.

Interestingly enough, studies conducted by Content Marketing Institute showed that titles with three exclamation marks (!!!) received almost twice as many clicks as titles with any other punctuation marks. So, if you really can’t resist the urge to use exclamation marks, you know how to do it right.

Alright, I admit I wouldn’t take that too seriously… but it’s intriguing nevertheless.

  • Subhead style

Headlines with a colon or hyphen – indicating a subtitle – performs 9% better than headlines without.

  • Odd numbers

Headlines that contained odd numbers had a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.

  • Pics or less clicks

Readers are human beings too. They are attracted to content with images, and to headlines accompanied by images. The NYC-headquartered company’s data analysis showed that a thumbnail image could increase CTR by 27%.