June 16, 2011
A well-crafted headline is the key to whether readers click through to your article. After spending so much time planning and creating content, it would be a shame for readers to miss out on your great content because your headline didn’t catch their eye.
To learn more about what makes readers actually click, we looked through data on 150,000 article headlines or titles that were recommended across our platform. The purpose of this research was to offer content publishers and marketers insight into headline characteristics that get the desired clickthrough.
Length matters: A title with eight words performed best. These titles received a 21% higher clickthrough rate than average.
Pics get clicks: Outbrain’s data analysis showed readers are attracted to content with images. Thumbnails worked better than logos and increased clickthrough rates by 27%.
Lists with a twist: Lists and photo galleries typically drive more page views, but they get more clicks as well. Headlines that contained odd numbers had a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.
Going deeper: A colon or hyphen in the title — indicating a subtitle — performed 9% better than headlines without.
Questions work: Titles that ended with a question mark had a higher clickthrough rate than those that ended with exclamation marks or periods. If you really feel the urge to use an exclamation mark, our studies have shown that three (!!!) received almost twice as many clicks as all other punctuation marks.
I hope these simple tweaks will help your headlines really click with your readers. After all, they worked on you didn’t it? (Odd number…eight words… sound familiar?)
What are your thoughts? Tell us what types of headlines grab your attention and why?