Headline Checklist:

Welcome to the Process Street headline checklist!

If you're finding it difficult to make your content irresistible or getting low open rates on your emails, it's probably your headline's fault.

Around 80% of readers never make it to your content, but by writing better headlines, being extraordinary and compelling your readers to click, you'll be able to boost page views, shares and exposure.

Let's get started! 

Check over formulas/the most famous headlines ever written

A successful headline of the past is a great starting point, especially since you know already what your topics and targets are.

Here's 18 of the most popular examples:

  1. How to [win friends] and [influence people]
  2. Why Some People Almost Always Make Money in the Stock Market
  3. Who else wants...?
  4. The Secret of...
  5. Here is a method helping X to Y
  6. Little known ways to ...
  7. Get rid of X, once and for all
  8. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
  9. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
  10. [Do something] like [world-class example]
  11. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
  12. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank] / What your boss expects you to know about X
  13. How to [skill] for [benefits]  // How to [benefit] with [skill/product]
  14. Gotten a speeding ticket lately? Read this.
  15. Become / Make / Build X Now / In X Days
  16. The Lazy / Smart / Criminally easy! Way to do X.
  17. You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result].
  18. Warning: [X]

As well as these 18 classics, you should check out this spreadsheet with 148 classic proven formulas you can use in your next post.

Get your 148 headline formulas here!

Remember: a headline is a promise.

Sell the benefits, not the features

This is the oldest trick in the book because very few people care more about what they're getting than how it can help them.

Here's what I mean, using examples from Help Scout's explanation:

Benefits should be specific to the group you're targeting. You aren't narrowing or weakening your appeal, you're focusing it.

Accurately describe what you're writing about

Making sure you're accurately titling your article or landing page is vital, because if the title indicates that what's on the other side of the click will be different, your readers will bounce quickly and signal to Google that your page has been ranked incorrectly.

  • Name it correctly by format — worksheet, template, checklist, etc.
  • Don't call it an 'ultimate guide' if it's just a few bits and pieces.
  • Research that you've got your idea right and that most would agree. (I once wrote a piece about 'marketing automation', but marketing automation is something totally different.)

The irony is, there's not really a place you can go to find writers who have inaccurately described their content in the headline, because it gets no exposure and falls off the face of the internet.

Keep your reader's objections in mind (and fight against them)

Even still, your readers might be reading your headline and thinking 'yeah, right...;

If your content sounds unbelievable or like it could cause difficulties, you can help readers to stop doubting you by addressing their objections.

How do you do that?

Take a look at some examples, with the objection they are addressing in bold.

  1. Learn C++ in 14 Days (While Still Working a Full-Time Job)
  2. 15 Tested Headline Templates You Can Use Right Now
  3. Get the Best Spreadsheet Software, Free Forever
  4. Rapid Hair Regrowth within 30 Days Or Your Money Back!
  5. The Scientifically Proven Way To Instantly Double Your Sales

Include these power words if you can

It's not recommended to cram an already great headline full of these words, but if your headline feels weak at this point, try enhancing it with a power word or two.

There are many reports on the complete list of power words, but in reality any list of all the emotive words in the English language would do it, so I thought I'd narrow it down a little to the top 5 and David Ogilvy's top 20.

5 most persuasive words:

  • You
  • Free
  • Because
  • Instantly
  • New

Ogilvy's 20 power words

  • Suddenly
  • Now
  • Announcing
  • Introducing
  • Improvement
  • Amazing
  • Sensational
  • Remarkable
  • Revolutionary
  • Startling
  • Miracle
  • Magic
  • Offer
  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Wanted
  • Challenge
  • Compare
  • Bargain
  • Hurry

Cut it to between 5-18 words

While a title of 5-18 words is the right size (broadly speaking), keep in mind these other restrictions and recommendations when considering where your title will appear:

  • To make sure people actually read it: 34 characters (~5 words)
  • For search results: 70 characters (~12 words)
  • For email subjects: 50 characters (~9 words)
  • Twitter: 71–100 characters (~12-15 words)
  • Facebook: 40 characters (~7 words)
  • Google+: 60 characters (~10 words)
  • LinkedIn: 80–120 characters (~14-18 words)

Use a number, fact, percentage or statistic

Studies show the human brain loves numbers. They give the reader clarity, set expectations and — in the case of percentages or statistics — give the article more authority.

This doesn't mean everything you write with a number in the title has to be a list post, though.

Numbers either tell you that you're about to see 43 Dogs So Cute They Will Destroy You or Why 68% of Bloggers Have No Friends.

Make your headline extremely specific

If a reader can glance at it and say 'it's not for me', then another can glance and say 'WHOA, LET ME GET THAT!'

A prime example:

This headline doesn't appeal to me, but I've met people before who would go crazy for it. 

Provoking a mild interest in everyone gets less conversions than provoking a frenzy in a specialized few.

Redraft it until you're sick of it, then do it again

Now, run all headlines so far through CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer.

You'll be able to see the history of all your headlines, and look for the headline that fits all of the above criteria and scores best.

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You've reached the end of this headline checklist! I'm certain you've written something fantastic.

I'm certain you've written something fantastic.

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