Looking for the best headline formulas to promote your top content?
Let’s move beyond the common ones you see over and over — like “how to” — and bring some new blood to the mix with these 22 titles (with headline examples) you can customize for your audience.
1. Who Else Wants [blank]?
Starting a headline with “Who Else Wants …” is a classic social-proof strategy that implies an already existing consensus desire.
- Who Else Wants More People to Read Their Writing?
- Who Else Wants a Higher Paying Job?
- Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?
2. The Secret of [blank]
This one is used quite a bit, but that’s because it works. Share insider knowledge and translate it into a benefit for the reader.
- The Secret of Successful Podcasting
- The Secret of Protecting Your Assets in Litigation
- The Secret of Getting Your Home Loan Approved
3. Here Is a Method That Is Helping [blank] to [blank]
To craft better headlines, simply identify your target audience and the benefit you can provide them, and fill in the blanks.
- Here Is a Method That Is Helping Homeowners Save Hundreds on Insurance
- Here Is a Method That Is Helping Children Learn to Read Sooner
- Here Is a Method That Is Helping Content Marketers Write Better Titles
4. Little-Known Ways to [blank]
A more intriguing (and less common) way of accomplishing the same thing as “The Secret of …” headline.
- Little-Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
- Little-Known Ways to Optimize Gmail
- Little-Known Ways to Lose Weight Quickly and Safely
5. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
An essential on this list of best headlines. It identifies either a painful problem or an unfulfilled desire that the reader wants to remedy. You can help them with a damn good headline.
- Get Rid of Your Unproductive Work Habits Once and For All
- Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All
- Get Rid of That Lame Mullet Hairdo Once and For All
6. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
People love quick and easy when it comes to headline formulas that solve a nagging problem.
- Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold
- Here’s a Quick Way to Potty Train Junior
- Here’s a Quick Way to Back Up Your Hard Drive
7. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
This is the classic “have your cake and eat it too” headline — and who doesn’t like that?
- Now You Can Quit Your Job and Make Even More Money
- Now You Can Meet Smart Singles Online Without Spending a Dime
- Now You Can Own a Cool Mac and Still Run Windows
8. [Do something] like [world-class example]
Gatorade milked this one fully with the “Be Like Mike” campaign featuring Michael Jordan in the early 1990s.
- Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat
- Party Like Mick Jagger
- Blog Like an A-Lister
9. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
Appeal to vanity, dissatisfaction, or shame. Enough said with this headline example.
- Eat a Healthy Diet You Can Be Proud Of
- Have a Smile You Can Be Proud Of
- Build a Professional Network You Can Be Proud Of
10. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]
Big curiosity draw with this type of headline formula, and it acts almost as a challenge to the reader to go ahead and see if they are missing something.
- What Everybody Ought to Know About Sensible SEO
- What Everybody Ought to Know About Adjustable-Rate Mortgages
- What Everybody Ought to Know About Writing Great Headlines
11. Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [blank]
This headline promises a strong benefit to the reader, like all good headlines do. But this one is especially effective because it promises to deliver in a very short time period.
- Give Me 5 Days – And I’ll Give You the Secret of Learning any Subject!
- Give Me 3 Minutes a Day – and I’ll Give You a Better Complexion
- Give Me 7 Minutes and I’ll Share 37 Email Marketing Tips
12. If You Don’t [blank] Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later
We love to belong, but feeling excluded is a real bummer. Whether it be a financial opportunity or the social event of the year, we simply hate it when we get left out.
13. The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank]
This headline has always worked well with time-pressured people, and that’s certainly true for most people today. No one likes to think of themselves as lazy, but everyone likes to save time and effort.
- The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches
- The Lazy Dad’s Way to Quickly Getting Dinner on the Table
- The Lazy Blogger’s Way to Write Great Post Titles
14. Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?
OK, technically this is still a list, but it’s wrapped up in a much more compelling structure than your typical “Top 10” article.
People want to avoid problems, and this headline promises the critical tips before it’s too late.
- Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
- Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of an Employee Meltdown?
- Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of Social Media Addiction?
15. See How Easily You Can [desirable result]
These headline examples are about learning something new or gaining some advantage.
- See How Easily You Can Learn to Dance This New Way
- See How Easily You Can Own a Lamborghini Miura
- See How Easily You Can Increase Traffic with Social Media
16. You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result]
People almost always have preconceived notions about things, and this can be a barrier to taking action.
Remove the barrier that stands between them and the desired result with your headline, and people will flock to read what you have to say.
- You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Retire on a Guaranteed Income for Life
- You Don’t Have to Be a Geek to Make Money Online
- You Don’t Have to Be an A-Lister to Be a Kick-Ass Blogger
17. Do You Make These Mistakes?
The best headline formulas are powerful attention grabbers, since no one likes to make mistakes.
If you’ve targeted your content well for your intended audience, one of the best headlines you can write helps people avoid common mistakes.
18. Warning: [blank]
Starting a headline with the word warning will almost always catch attention, but it’s what you say next that will determine how well it works for your particular content.
- Warning: If You Depend on Google for Both Traffic and Advertising, You Pretty Much Work for Google
- Warning: 2 Out of Every 3 People in Your Industry Will Be Out of Work in 5 Years — Will You Be One of Them?
- Warning: Do You Recognize These 7 Early Warning Signs of Content Burnout?
19. How [blank] Made Me [blank].
Use this structure when relating a personal story. The key to the most effective use of this headline formula is for the two blanks to dramatically contrast, so that the curiosity factor goes way up and people feel compelled to read more.
- How a “Fool Stunt” Made Me a Star Salesman
- How an Obvious Idea Made Me $3.5 Million
- How Moving to Iowa Improved My Sex Life
20. Are You [blank]?
A nice use of the question headline, designed to catch attention with curiosity or a challenge to the reader. Don’t be afraid to be bold with this one.
21. [Blank] Ways to [blank].
One of the best headline formulas, because it’s really a “how to” enhanced by specificity that either impresses the prospective reader with how many tips you’ve got, or at minimum let’s them know exactly what to expect.
- 101 Ways to Cope With Stress
- 21 Ways to Live a Better Life with Less
- 5 Ways to Write Killer Headlines
22. If You’re [blank], You Can [blank].
Another great use of specificity, this headline addresses a particular type of person with the first blank, and the beneficial promise to that person in the content or body copy with the second.
- If You’re a Non-Smoker, You Can Save 33% on Life Insurance
- If You’re an Accountant, Our Frequent Flyer Program Really Adds Up
- If You Love Scuba, You Can Dive Belize This Week Only for a Song!
Warning: Use these headline formulas at your own risk
Remember, with headline formulas, you must understand why they work before trying to use them.
When you understand why the original headlines worked, you’ll be able to select an appropriate structure, and you’ll be a better headline writer in general. If you don’t, you might not only write a bad headline, you might come off looking bad in general.