9 Tips for Writing Killer Headlines and Subheadings


Successful blog posts have many components: they’re full of accurately researched facts, they address readers’ concerns, and they make readers want to click, share, and engage on social media. Killer headlines and subheadings are essential components of those posts. After all, your content could be compelling and life-changing, but if it’s got a blase title, who will see it?

Let’s examine nine different methods for improving your headline creation process.

1. Use the Right Headline Length


How long should you make a blog post or page headline? It depends on the type of content, but there are some general rules to follow.

Short and sweet can work, especially when you’re talking about lists (like this post). You also don’t want to go too long, or the title won’t fit:

  • Google’s meta title information (it’ll look cut off in the search results, and Google may use it as a deciding factor to rank another resource over yours)
  • On social media, including Facebook, making the subject of the article unclear.

According to HubSpot, you should consider making your headline between 8 and 12 words.

2. Access Free Headline Analysis Resources


Crafting the right headline is quite the art. Fortunately, there are some free resources to help you. Check them out:

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

CoSchedule offers a free headline analyzer. It breaks down your headline to show you the following elements:

  • Common words like “and” and “or.” CoSchedule recommends around 20% of your headline words be considered common words. Common doesn’t mean ‘bad,’ after all – you can’t make a sensible sentence without them.
  • Uncommon words: These can make your content unique and ensure the language is somewhat advanced.
  • Emotional words: Words that inspire strong feelings in the reader.
  • Power words: Phrases and words with intensity.

Sharethrough Headline Analyzer

Sharethrough provides a free headline analyzer as well.

Sharethrough focuses on two characteristics when evaluating your headline: engagement and impression.

  • Engagement refers to the humanization and emotional connection potential of the headline. Are you using words like “your,” or talking about celebrities or personal characteristics? That affects engagement.
  • Impression refers to impactul context words, like brand name, which make your headline memorable.

The idea is that engagement and impression combine to grab readers’ attention and make your headline memorable to them.

Advanced Marketing Institute

The Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer cuts to the point: it talks all about the “emotional marketing value” of your headline. In professional copywriting, the headline is everything, especially if you’re writing an email or something people could otherwise scroll past on social media.

Each tool uses its own algorithm, so you may wish to run your headline through more than one of these, kind of like getting a second opinion from a doctor.

3. Generate Headline Ideas Collaboratively


Let’s be real: the headline is sometimes the toughest part of writing a blog post or article. Sometimes it works best to come up with a working title, then get together with other writers (assuming you’re in the same organization or there isn’t a non-disclosure agreement in place) and work on headlines together.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking a ‘punny’ friend or family member to come up with a title with more wit for a headline.

4. Write the Headline Last


Another proven strategy: write the headline last. You’ll want to start with a firm idea and points of research – and possible a ‘working title’ you expect to change – but save the headline for last. This has several benefits for you:

  • Your title will be especially specific to the completed article
  • It will help you summarize your content succinctly (which can also help you formulate introductions and calls to action, or CTAs)
  • Your headline will match your post perfectly, pleasing your readers.

5. Include Your Keyword


If you want your content to rank on Google – or if you hope others will find it – it’s vital to include your keyword in the headline. If possible, make sure it’s near the beginning.

6. Consider the Tone of Your Post


You want your headline to match your post and the publication itself. You don’t want a funny headline for a post about something serious, or vice versa. Additionally, the headline needs to fit right in with the rest of the blog (unless the editor specifies otherwise.

7. Conform to the Publication’s Standards

If you’re writing your headline for a specific blog, make sure your headlines and subheadings conform to the blog’s standards. Some blogs use the AP Stylebook, while others have their own ‘house style guides.’ If the editor hasn’t specified, check the headlines of posts authored by editors or featured contributors.

AP has tricky headline rules, but you can double check your work by using this free headline checker.

8. Remember These Specific Tips for Subheadings

When writing subheadings, keep in mind that subheadings exist to:

  • Help readers skim and find the part of the content they’re looking for
  • Signify the post topic to Google and other search engines
  • Help the flow of your post
  • Visually break up the text, making it easier to read

Therefore, your subheadings may need to be somewhat drier and more specific than the main headline. Ideally, subheadings are five to seven words, but if you’re using a little humor in your post, you can also do that while maintaining focus on your topic. For example:

Hold My Beer: Dominate the Competition with SEO

…might work well for us.

9. Want Gripping Titles? Hire an Expert

Want to know why top-tier copywriters make the big bucks? Their copy produces results, and they track the ROI (return on investment) of their work. Copywriters aren’t just producing blog posts and web copy, though: some write advertisements, headlines, and titles specifically. That means they’re pros at communicating a hefty concept with brevity.

When all else fails (or if you’re short on time or would rather focus on your business), hire the experts.

Spending a lot of time on blog post concepts or copy? We understand. At Dominate with SEO, we produce strategic, informed, genuine content. Stand above the competition: contact us today. You’ll get killer copy, headlines and all.


Sam Romain
I started Romain Berg to offer a laser-focused approach to search engine optimization, search engine marketing and other marketing methods that profoundly and positively boost internet presence. At Romain Berg we understand the frustrations companies experience when trying to implement SEO programs, unfortunately, a lot of them are doing it wrong. That's why we are here to help make it clear and make it work for your business to lead to sustained growth.

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