Marketing 4 mins read

How to Write Headlines That Make for Viral Content

In this article, Edgy Labs summarizes tips from Buzzsumo research into writing headlines that make for viral content no matter the audience.

Astephan | Shutterstock.com

Astephan | Shutterstock.com

With millions of content producers releasing articles and videos daily, how do you make sure your content is clicked on, engaged with, and followed through?

In short, you need an exceptional headline.

As the first impression of your content, your headline is one of the important aspects of your entire content campaign. Headlines determine whether people will check out your content, true, but the headline will also create an expectation for the content itself. The other part of writing viral content is being able to deliver on a good headline.

In this article, Edgy Labs summarizes for you Buzzsumo‘s newest research on writing viral headlines.

Here’s What Goes Into Writing Headlines for Viral Content:

1. Good Headline Structure

According to Buzzsumo, the most successful article headlines all have some common elements. These are:

  • Emotions: e.g. words like “Stunning and Shocking”
  • Content: e.g. intriguing facts, pictures, and videos
  • Targeted Topic: e.g. Finance, Fitness
  • Format: e.g. Story, List
  • Promise: e.g. How to, Complete Guide
Buzzsumo.com

A good example of a headline that uses a mix of these elements is HubSpot’s “5 Smart Reasons to Create Content Outside Your NicheThis headline mixes the Format (list), Promise (reasons to read), and Topic (content creation) elements.

The article has been shared over 12,000 times already.

Writing Viral Content starts with the HeadlineClick To Tweet

2. Include Type of Content and Format

Headlines are only one part of the whole article. To write great headlines for your articles, you must first research the type of content your audience will relate to. Include this content type in your headlines when writing them.

If your audience has shown interest in quizzes before, think about including “Quiz” in your headline.

From Buzzsumo‘s research, “list” articles and “how to” posts do very well. In fact, articles that begin with “How to” draw the most traffic out of any.

3. Include Topic in Headlines

There are two ways to leverage topics for your content headlines. You can either target trending or permanent topics. The difference between permanent and trending topics is that people relate to the former constantly and the latter on a temporary basis.

An example of a trending topic would be “Super Bowl” whilst “Fitness” would be a permanent topic.

Both can be leveraged to create exceptional headlines to attract more audience. Trending topics is great for tapping into a wider audience other than your core audience.

Research topics your audience has always related with are good candidates for permanent content. Trending topics that excite your audience from time to time are useful also–be sure to reflect that in your headline.

4. Use Emotional Words

From Buzzsumo’s research, they found after analyzing superlative words in over 10,000 headlines that the most shared articles had these words in the headline:

  • Amazing
  • Inspiring
  • Surprising
  • Succesful

Start including some of these words in your headlines. Also, experiment with other emotional words–it might be time to invest in a thesaurus.

5. Use Trigrams

Trigrams are three-word combinations that create draw.

Good examples are “You need to“, “Why you should“, and “Can learn from“. Research the trigrams that get the most shares in your niche and start including them in your headlines.

6. A Clear Promise

What will you content do for your audience? Will it improve their skill set or bring them to tears? Include this in your headline.

Of course, the other part of this is ensuring that your content can actually deliver on the promise set by your headline.

All right fellow content creators, what else do you keep in mind when creating headlines for viral content?

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