How to Craft an Amazing Headline (Plus 7 Free Headline Tools)

by Ashley Barnett
*Some of the links below may be from our sponsors. My full disclosure statement.*

With as much time as we spend writing amazing blog posts they simply won't get read unless they also have a great headline.

Whether on social media or search, it's the headline that draws people in and gets that coveted click.

Mostly, you want to identify your reader and let them know what they will be getting out of the post. If you can do those two things you are already doing better than most. After that, there are some tricks, such as using “power words”, numbered lists, and using “how to”.

How to Create Great Headlines

Headline tools help you finesse your headlines, but you should know how to craft them yourself, too. Tools can only do so much and lack the crucial human element that only you can add to your headlines.

After all, it’s other humans who’re reading your headlines and blog posts.

Relate to Your Intended Audience

Your audience should be able to identify themselves in your headlines. You want your ideal reader to think “oh, that article is for me!”

Take a look at these examples:

  • Good Example: Breakfast Ideas Your Kids Can't Get Enough Of
  • Bad Example: 6 Breakfast Recipes that Include Blueberries

In the good example, you know who that article is for… parents. It says “Hey parents of picky eaters who are tired of arguing with your kids every morning… I got your solution right here!” If I have young kids that give me a hard time every morning… I'll be clicking on that article, pronto.

In bad example, I have no idea who the intended reader is — other than someone who likes blueberries. So unless I happen to be looking for blueberry breakfast ideas right that second I won't click.

So, try to identify the reader in your title. This will attract the right reader to your blog and repel the wrong ones.

Include “Power Words”

Use words that elicit emotion and leave people wanting more. Words like “shocking,” “unbelievable,” “devastating,” or “inspiring” are a few good examples.

Think of these power words as words that make readers stop in their tracks and read on because they “have to know more” and include them in your headlines.

  • Good Example: 5 Proven Ways to Get Rid of Acne
  • Bad Example: 5 Acne Solutions

While anyone with acne wants a solution you can see how the term “proven ways” is much more enticing. I don't just want a list of solutions that don't work. I want my problem solved — now.

Other examples might include:

  • 5 Ways to Get Rid of Acne Forever
  • Stop Breakouts Now: 5 Ways to End Acne Today
  • End Your Acne with These 5 Surprising Tricks
  • Clear Skin Awaits: How to Stop Acne in it's Tracks

One thing to avoid here is overstating things. Don't tell me that something is shocking unless it really is shocking. This breaks trust with your reader and does not help you over time.

Indicate a Numbered List

Readers love lists! They are short, sweet, and easy to skim. Readers know they'll be able to quickly jump to reading what they want and skipping over what doesn’t apply to them.

  • Good Example: 10 Colorado Hikes You Must Try This Summer
  • Bad Example: Great Summer Hikes in Colorado

In the good example, I know exactly what to expect and I can quickly skim the list to see if there is anything new for me in there. This could stop my scroll if I like to hike in Colorado on a regular basis.

The bad example gives me no reason to click unless I was actively looking for hiking trails in Colorado. You'd have to catch me at the exact right moment.

Start with “How-to”

The phrase “how to” can pique a reader’s interest. Write how to do something, be something, or even avoid something and demonstrate the how-to in the headline.

  • Good Example: How to Budget on a Low Income
  • Bad Example: Budgeting on a Low Income is Possible

“How to” articles solve a problem. Which is exactly what your articles should be doing. Everyone wants to learn something, so how-to headlines go far. Plus they are very easy to write.

This article uses a “how to” AND a numbered list. Kachow!

Consider Using the Current Year

Putting the year at the end of the title is very effective if the information is timely or changes often. This lets people know that the article is current.

A few good examples would be:

  • 12 Fitness Apps to Help You Lose Weight in 2021
  • Best running shoes for women in 2021
  • XYZ Service Review 2021: $100 Bonus for New Customers
  • How to Make Money Online in 2021

All of these examples are in areas that change very quickly. So putting the year lets the reader know that the information is current. Of course, this requires updating these articles every year.

Related: How and Why You Should Update Old Blog Posts

Take Inspiration from Your Competitors

When I'm totally stumped for a headline idea I go where everyone goes when they have a question — to Google.

Google the keyword and see what the ranking articles are titled. If seven out of ten of the ranking articles have the year, or start “how to”, or are numbered lists then you have a good place to start when creating your own titles

When your competitors do something well, there’s no shame in taking that strategy and putting your own spin on it to make it better. If a headline works for your competitors, you already know it’ll grab readers’ attention.

The next step is to make it unique, so you’re not using an exact copy. While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you do need to tweak it.

Brainstorm Different Headlines

Still stumped? Grab a Google Doc or piece of paper and start brainstorming. Aim for 20 different headlines. Get creative, think outside the box, and as you go, you'll likely hit on a phrase or two that feels right.

Narrow down your list to a few options and put them in one of the headline tools below. You can compare what headline works best versus your other headline ideas and which might need some tweaking.

Top 7 Headline Tools

The above techniques will get you started. Combine them with the headline tools below, and you’ll be well on your way to crafting perfect headlines.

1. Gutenberg Editor Headline Analyzer

If you are using WordPress and have the Gutenberg Editor (the block editor) then you should have a headline analyzer tool built right in.

When you are working in the back end of WordPress you'll see a box with an “H” and then a fraction that will say something like 60/100 or 72/100 or something like that. That's the score of your current headline out of 100. The box will be red, orange, or green depending the score.

As you can see in this screenshot, the headline of this article is getting a 79 out of 100. If I click on the box I'll get a full analysis of the headline and an option to try a new headline.

2. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer is a free headline creating powerhouse. It capitalizes on our tip above by analyzing what headline strategies have been working for your competitors.

Create a headline and enter it in CoSchedule. It will then analyze it for you in the following ways:

  • Checks your word balance, ensuring your headline isn’t too long or too short.
  • Analyzes the emotion factor of the headline, rating it either common or emotional. Emotional is your desired result, as it indicates the language used in the headline evokes readers’ emotions.
  • Gauges SEO readability and general readability of your headline. (E.g., Can it be understood at a glance?).
  • Compares your headline to the successful headlines of your competitors.

Use the results and suggestions from this headline tool to tweak your headline for maximum attention-grabbing.

For the headline of this article it gives a score of 72 out of 100. Here's what it has to say:

3. Optinmonster 

Optinmonster is free, but you must enter your name and email address to use it. Like other headline tools, create a headline and enter it in Optinmonster. It analyzes it according to its SEO friendliness and its appeal to your target audience.

Your overall score will be an emoji rating demonstrating whether your headline has yielded good or bad results.

Optinmonster uses some of the following metrics:

  • Word count and headline length.
  • The number of power words used versus common words.
  • The number and impact of emotional words used.
  • Type of headline.

Optinmonster also provides a preview of what viewers will see when they come across your blog post in a Google search, so you can tell if the headline looks good and fits properly or if it looks wordy and gets cut off.

Optinmonster gave this article's headline a score of 79 — which is a happy face. I think if I got one more point it would have been a happy face with heart eyes. One can only dream.

Here's the full analysis:

I think it's interesting Sharethrough told me the headline was too short, yet this one says it's good. Coschedule says the headline is emotional, this tool says it's not. Proof that at the end of the day, the human mind is better at writing than a computer.

4. MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer

MonsterInsights Headline Analyzer is super easy and free to use. Create your headline and enter it in MonsterInsights. Hit “analyze,” and, in seconds, you’ll have a headline score and an easy-to-read report of your headline’s strengths and weaknesses. 

MonsterInsights offers the following results:

  • Total score. A headline with a score between 40 and 60 is considered good; a headline with a score over 70 is best, so aim for a score over 70.
  • Common words score. Aim for a common words score of 20 to 30 percent for best results.
  • Uncommon words score. It’s recommended that 10 to 20 percent of the words in your headline are uncommon.
  • Emotional word score. It’s best practice if at least 10 to 15 percent of the words in your headline are emotional words.
  • Power word score. Be sure to include at least one power word.
  • Character and word count. Indicates whether your headline length is too short, too long, or just right. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page. MonsterInsights offers suggestions for power words, emotion words, and uncommon words to help you make the most out of your headline as a bonus.

This tools gives my headline a score of 79. Here's the full analysis:

It also says the title is a good length when it comes to characters but has too many words. I actually agree with this. I think it's a tad long.

5. Sharethrough Headline Analyzer

Sharethrough Headline Analyzer is another free headline tool that helps you better gauge your headline’s readability and attractiveness.

Create a headline and enter it in Sharethrough. It will then score it for you in the following areas: 

  • Engagement score measures how likely your headline is to engage your audience. 
  • Impression score measures how likely readers are to click on your headline and read the blog post.
  • Headline quality score is your overall score and measures how your headline will perform based on Sharethrough’s algorithm.

Sharethrough gave this headline a score of 70 out of 100. Here's what it has to say:

Sharethrough provides plenty of tips on how to improve your headlines as well as identifies its strengths. Some of these I personally agree with, some I don't. I'm not going to be adding a brand or a celebrity to the title of this article.

Can you imagine if someone used a celebrity in the title of every article on their site? That would be weird.

6. IsitWP Headline Analyzer

IsitWP Headline Analyzer is another free tool. Create your headline and enter it in IsitWP to receive your headline score. Green scores are good, yellow scores indicate your headline could use some improvement, and red scores indicate your headline needs significant improvement. 

IsitWP uses the following score factors:

  • Overall score. It’s recommended you aim for a score of 70 or higher.
  • Word balance score. Unlike CoSchedule, IsitWP’s word balance score indicates the balance of uncommon and emotion words.
  • Power words score. Power words compel readers to click on your headline and read your blog post.
  • Headline length score. This score will indicate whether your headline should be shorter or longer to meet the recommended length. 
  • Sentiment. Sentiment suggests to you what readers may feel when reading your headline.

IsitWP also shows you a preview of what your headline will look like on Google so you can see if it gets truncated.

Another 79 for the headline of this article. Here's the analysis:

7. Capitalize My Title Headline Analyzer

Capitalize My Title Headline Analyzer is free and uses 50 data points to score your headline. Create your headline and enter it to receive analysis on readability, SEO, and sentiment. 

As you scroll through your results, you’ll see where Capitalize My Title recommends changes. Places where you should make a change will show up in yellow, and the various suggestions are intended to help you make the most out of your headline. 

This tool gave my headline a score of 68. Here's the analysis:

Summary

As you can see here, the exact score you will receive from the various headline tools is not consistent. The same headline got as low as 68 and as high as 79. But overall, the advice basically the same — the title is good but it needs more emotional and uncommon words.

Another thing to note is that I bet it's impossible to get to 100 — don't spend hours trying. I've never seen a headline get a score of 100 and honestly I'm not sure I want to.

Here's the best scoring headline I could muster for this article: 7 Free Headline Tools Sure To Get Awesome Clicks. That title scores a 93!

And now you have everything you need to go out and get those awesome clicks. 🙂

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