How to Write Flipboard Headlines That People Want to Click

Jessica Rosenberg / November 17, 2016

Flipboard Headlines people want to clickYou spend enough time online to know that a great headline is critical to getting people to click through and actually read a post. Copyblogger did the math and figured out that while eight out of 10 people take the time to actually read headlines, only two out of those same 10 will actually click through. In short, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your prose might be, or how compelling your main argument, if the headline isn’t equally engaging, no one will be reading your words.

Whether you’re flipping your post into a Flipboard Magazine or sharing it anywhere online, your headline needs to be compelling enough to compete with everything else being shared. Follow these tips to snag your fair share of readers’ attention!

1. Don’t let your headline be an afterthought

When you’ve spent all of your energy getting the words in the actual post just right, it’s so tempting to rush the most critical piece just so you can hit publish and be done. But spending time crafting a great headline can make all the difference when it comes to getting those words actually read, so don’t skip this important step!

Upworthy suggests writing at least 25 headlines before deciding which one you want to use. Not sure how effective what you’ve come up with might be? Plug it into the free CoSchedule headline analyzer and see what score your headline gets. (The headline to this post scored a 73, could you have done better?)

How many articles today have you seen with this title? Too many.

How many articles today have you seen with this title? Probably more than one.

2. Know your audience

As you play with words and try to get the headline that will grab the most attention, don’t lose sight of what really matters. Crafting a sensational headline that will appeal to the masses but turns off your intended audience defeats the purpose of the exercise. So keep in mind the audience you intend to attract and find a way to write something that will draw those people in. If your audience comes to you for helpful information that can help their business, being overly clever might not fly. On the flipside, if you’re known for writing light, entertaining posts, a serious headline might deter your fans.

This 'punny' headline is so bad that it's a turn off for the types of readers Mashable usually attracts.

This headline is trying to illustrate the point of the article, but it’s so bad that it’s a turn-off for the types of readers Wired usually attracts.

3. Be relevant, topical and SEO-friendly

The trickiest part about writing headlines is that humans aren’t the only ones who need to read them and find them interesting. You’re also competing for search engine attention, so your headlines have to be a mix of things to get noticed by computers, all while remaining compelling to the humans.

You want to make sure that your headline is relevant to your post. Aside from irritating readers, search engines are trained to ignore articles that feature headlines that don’t correspond. Ideally, you also want your headline to be topical. If something is trending or has people buzzing, readers will be looking for posts on that topic before they look to read evergreen content or something not quite as timely. And, of course, you want your post headlines to be as SEO-friendly as possible. The easiest way to make that happen is to ask yourself what terms a person would type into the search bar if they wanted to find your post, and turn that into your headline. While you’re at it, be sure to craft a unique headline so that it doesn’t get lost in a sea of similarly titled pieces.

This title is a perfect example of a headline that matches what a person would look up.

This title is a perfect example of a headline that matches what a person would look up.

4. Embrace the formulas that work

Certain headlines just work. You can attempt to buck the trends, but it’s safest to try to follow what has been tried and tested. To whit:

  • The ideal headline length is 70 characters long so that it can be easily read on mobile and desktops.
  • People generally read the first three words and the last three words of a headline, so the best headlines—you guessed it—are generally six words long.
  • Numbers are inherently attractive; odd numbers even more so.
  • Choose to share positive sentiments over negative, and use an active voice over passive.
  • Questions draw readers in because they want to know if they have the right answer.
  • Offering solutions to known problems also engages readers.
Numbers, emotion, and the drive to see if you might be doing these dangerous poses. This headline has it all!

Numbers, emotion, and the drive to see if you might be doing these dangerous poses. This headline has it all!

5. Be clear and concise

Last, but not least, clear and concise headlines that are understandable outside context are most attractive to readers who are pressed for time and want to know what they’re signing up for when they click through to read an article. As an added bonus, headlines that follow this guideline are more easily remembered by readers who want to tell someone about the article they read and loved.

This headline outlines clearly and concisely what the post will contain.

This headline outlines clearly and concisely what the post will contain.

If you’re looking for some headline inspiration, take a moment to peruse these magazines, Dumb Headlines, Interesting Headlines, Headlines + Copy, Unexpected Headlines. Take note of the headlines that entice you to click and see if you can figure out which of the above tips made them stand out. Collect them in a private magazine so that they’re on hand for inspiration when needed.

~JessicaR is reading Blog Tips for Bloggers by @FlipBlogger