3 Tips on Writing Better Headlines.

Over the years I’ve written a lot about writing headlines.

I even teach a course on the subject.

But of all the tips I share, I have three favorites.

In fact, these are the tips – or filters – I use myself when trying to improve my own headlines.

Let’s get started…

Headline Tip #1: Never tell the whole story in the headline

This is a classic mistake, whether you’re writing a sales page or a content page, like a blog post or article.

There’s a temptation to give away too much in the headline.

Here’s an example of saying too much.

“The best country to raise your child is Denmark.”

After reading that headline, I no longer need to read the rest of the page. You’ve told me the topic, and you’ve given me the answer.

Job done!

The version of that headline I actually found online was this:

“The best country to raise your child is…”

The topic is revealed, but not the answer. Much better. Now, if I’m interested in the topic, I’ll keep reading or click through.

Now I’m engaged, intrigued even.

Headline Tip #2: Include a promise of some kind

I like to include some kind of feel-good promise into my headlines.

Why? Because people like to feel good.

People go to enormous lengths to feel good.

People buy stuff, and services, in search of feeling good!

That’s why I try to write a positive promise into most of my headlines.


“Eat 7 bananas a day and live longer.”

Nice promise there. People want to live longer.

BTW – that line is totally made up. I’m pretty sure eating 7 bananas a day WON’T make you live longer!

Headline Tip#3: Frontload your promise

My bananas headline is OK. It has a promise. But the real promise, the most powerful one, is at the end of the line.

Let’s bring it to the front, where it belongs…

“Live longer by eating 7 bananas a day.”

An easy switch, but an important one.

Why? Because not everyone reads the entire headline.

Sad, but true.

So you need to frontload the most powerful benefit, expressing it within the first few words of the line.

Hang on… I think we just ignored tip number one…

We just told the whole story…

“Live longer by eating 7 bananas a day.”


But don’t worry. This how I write and edit my own headlines. Back and forth, until I get it right.

Now let’s make a quick tweak, so the reader has a reason to dive in and read the full page.

 “Live longer by eating 7 servings of this one fruit, every day.”

Hmmm. Mystery. Which fruit? Better keep reading to find out!

That’s it for now…

There are plenty of other ways to improve your headlines, which is why I wrote an entire course on the subject.

But if all you do is apply the three tips in this post, you’ll be well ahead of the crowd.

5 thoughts on “3 Tips on Writing Better Headlines.”

  1. Thank you for the advice. I was wondering “Write better headlines with these 3 tips” would apply your final tip to this very headline?
    On another note, I noticed a trend recently of websites that have headlines which ask a question. Whenever they write like a question, I know the answer is no. An example “Is it time to switch to…” the write will almost always say no as they’d probably write “X reasons to switch to…” if they thought it was a good idea.

    • I wondered if someone would think to suggest that. : ) I thought about it, but in the end decided the word “tips” is always a powerful magnet for people. As is the use of a number at the beginning of a headline. Lines like 3 Tips… 5 Secrets… 11 Superfoods… tend to do well.

  2. Just a thought, but isn’t the promise about answering a reader’s “why” question? “Why should I read this?” In the best place and the banana headlines the why is answered, it’s good for my kids, it’ll make me live longer.
    But the headline for this post doesn’t really tell me why better headlines will help me. So would something like “3 tips to better headlines and higher sales” be better? I now know exactly why I should read on.
    I appreciate that for anyone who writes for a living the importance of headlines is obvious so they probably won’t ask why, but do you think it’s a good idea to play safe and assume a level of reader ignorance when writing headlines?

    • Good point… But you then break another rule, which I didn’t mention… Keep it simple by focusing on just one thing. Now you’re focusing on two things… better headlines AND higher sales. So… what if my goal for that page isn’t higher sales? What if it’s about engagement, or driving leads, or attracting more traffic for ad revenue? By adding another element, you make a simple promise a lot more complicated. : ) And when you do that, you dilute the line’s impact considerably.


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