Crafting Headlines That Draw Readers In

Have you been craving viral headlines?

No matter how superb they look in a doc, are yours just not getting the attention you think they deserve?

I’m here to help you out. Today, you’ll learn how to create viral-worthy headlines that grab readers’ attention and earn those social shares.

To do that, you must first gain insight into the elements of a viral headline and learn how to take those elements and craft attention-getting, emotionally-striking headers that drive clicks and results.

BuzzSumo Research Uncovers How to Write Viral Headlines

Steve Rayson at BuzzSumo has shared some valuable insight from his latest research on viral headlines.

He says the most important content element is the headline. It determines who clicks through and reads the content, and who will share the post later — including those that share without reading.

During his research, he uncovered the common elements of viral headlines.

What are the Common Elements of Viral Headlines?

  • Emotional Elements: These touch on the reader’s emotional level, including surprise, beauty, inspiration, and even shock.
  • Content Element: This includes images, facts, charts, quotations, and interactions with the audience.
  • Topic Element: Trending topics, health, babies, and love.
  • Format Elements: List-style posts, quizzes, stories, curated content, and research studies.
  • Promise Elements: The reader gains something by reading, such as a complete guide, how-to information, practical tips, and self-improvement.

Rayson dives deeper though and uncovers that viral headlines include more than one category of element. In fact, viral headlines have a word that touches on every single category.

What We Can Learn from Sites Like BuzzFeed

Ever been on BuzzFeed? If not, you probably should.

It is notorious for creating headlines that strike on the content elements required.

Take this headline for example:


The headline reads “16 Crucial Stories About Hillary Clinton and Her Campaign.”

Breaking Down the Headline by Elements:

  • Format: The “16” indicates the format is a list-style.
  • Emotion: The use of “crucial” tells you that this is shocking.
  • Topic: “Hillary Clinton” was a trending topic that people wanted to read about.
  • Promise: If you were to read this blog, you would learn critical facts about her and her campaign.
  • Content: You’re told you will receive facts/stories.

See how one single headline touched on every single

Now that you’ve seen examples, you’d probably like to know how to implement all of this and create a killer headline, right?

After all, we promised to share our secrets.

5 Hush-Hush Secrets for Creating Viral Headlines People Want to Click

1. Spend Time on Your Headline

Your headline is something that should be written at the very end.

Take your time to write your piece, then go back and think of the headline.

Write down as many ideas for headlines as you can. Then slowly weed out the ones that don’t work.

According to Upworthy’s Peter Koechley, authors should spend more than half of their time working on a clickable headline. Koechley goes on to say that a headline can drive a post from 1,000 views to more than one million.

We totally agree.

2. See What’s Already Trending

If you don’t know what’s trending, how will you touch on the topic element precisely?

BuzzSumo is a handy tool. In fact, you can use it to see what is trending right now.

You’ll see the score, how many social shares per network, and then you can click through to see the content.

3. Score It

Sometimes you need a little extra help when it comes to identifying how great your headline is and if it strikes on individual elements.

Luckily, there are tools out there that help you do this.

For example, CoSchedule has a headline analyzer that breaks down your headline by emotional value, content, word count, and more. Then, you’re given a score.

The Free Headline Analysis from Advanced Marketing Institute also touches on intellectual, spiritual and emotional values. It provides you with a percentage, which tells you how great your headline is. An excellent score is 50 to 75 percent.

4. Make a Big Claim (and Back It Up of Course)

Big claims get people interested.

Of course, you cannot make a big claim and then not back it up.

If you promise to teach someone revolutionary ways to cut their tax bill this season, you need to provide them with valuable insight.

This includes providing statistics, and valuable information that they have not seen rehashed on the web five billion times.

You’re here to share your expertise and provide them with useful tips that help them save on their taxes.

If you can’t deliver on what you claim or promise, don’t use the headline. There is nothing more annoying than a headline that offers viral-worthy content but fails to address the matter at hand.

So, write up your content. Then, think of a good claim you can offer readers if they were to read the content you’ve just written.

For the post that shares tax tips, you could try something along the lines of:

‘10 Secret Tax-Saving Tips that Have the IRS Worried’

5. Use Superlatives that Appeal to Your Audience

Superlatives and emotional words, per BuzzSumo, are what will resonate with your audience the most. BuzzSumo has a search that lets you analyze these words and determine which will appeal to your primary audience.

For example, LinkedIn is a more professional network. Therefore, they are going to want superlatives that appeal to business types, like “successful” or “results.” Those on Facebook are going with trendy, fun superlatives, like “killer” and “amazing.”

You can use the BuzzSumo search tool to see the most shared topics and see what superlatives were used in those posts, as well as how they worked on social media shares.

For example, I ran a search on taxes. Why? Because tax season is coming up and let’s face it: millions of Americans are likely scrambling to find ways to save and avoid the tax man’s penalties.

What was the top shared Facebook post on taxes?

‘FBI Director Received Millions from Clinton Foundation, His Brother’s Law Firm Does Clinton’s Taxes.’

That single post received 488.4k shares on Facebook, 747 on Twitter, and 232 on LinkedIn.

Hire Some Savvy Wordsmiths to Create Those Compelling Headlines for You


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