10 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Go Viral

    You’ve written an amazing post.

    But everybody knows that it’s not (only) about the quality of your content.

    It’s how you sell it.

    How do you sell a blog post, a book, a video—any content?

    By writing an amazing headline that sucks the reader in immediately.

    Big sites like Buzzfeed, Viral Nova and Bored Panda do it.

    Upworthy does it. Huffington Post does it.

    Their articles go viral WAY more often than yours do.

    There’s no way you could write viral headlines for each of your posts like they do, you might think.

    Until now.

    Here are 10 proven tips to help you write better headlines. Think of it as kind of a cheat sheet for viral success delivered to you on a silver platter.

    Somewhere in this list is the one tip you need to write headlines that go viral. The missing piece to make your writing complete.

    Ready to dive in?

    Which of These Tips Will Make Your Content Go Viral?

    Let’s start by thinking about your content, whether or not you’ve written it. What’s the main issue of your article?Scale it down to the essential one sentence.

    This sentence might not be a literary masterpiece, but it gets the point across.There are easy ways to transform this rudimentary sentence into a viral headline.

    1. Make it a list

    This one is an open secret. List posts work like crazy.If you’re about to write an article, think about how you can turn it into a list.

    Creating your headline is now easy, using this proven formula:

    Number + adjective + topic + item (optional: + benefit/urgency/curiosity) = viral headline
    Here are some examples.

    10 Best Nutrition Bars to Increase Health Today
    7 Famous SEO Gurus to Learn From for Free
    23 Amazing Sources for Food Stock Photos

    I guess you’ve seen these, or similar ones, before.


    They work.

    According to research by rjmetrics, list posts work best when they have 10, 16, 21 or 25 items.

    Relate to your audience

    It’s important to know who you write for.

    Make sure to define a specific group of people for whom you want to produce content, before actually beginning to write.

    You could write world-class articles about the latest trends in women’s fashion. Present it to male death-metal fans interested only in music and you’re toast. Deliver it to a group of female models and it goes viral.

    This means you must stay focused and stay true to your blog’s main goals.

    3. Do the wrong thing

    Surprise your readers by writing an unconventional title they don’t see five times a day. The key here is to be different.

    Try to spin a movie or song title and make it your header.

    Tell them ten things to NOT do.

    You could even make it one word only.

    Don’t overdo it, but every now and then, it can make for an interesting variation.

    4. How to be the expert

    Experts like to share their knowledge.

    Maybe your post is titledTips to Repair Your Bike.That’s a title, not a viral headline.

    Improve it by transforming it into a “How to” phrase.

    Easy to do, and you immediately have a highly shareable title: How to Repair Your Bike.

    Add an adjective and a benefit, and you get How to Quickly Repair Your Bike In Under 5 Minutes.

    That’s a different ballgame, isn’t it?

    5. Let your content SHINE

    Bnonn, who wrote for KISSmetrics, introduced  me to a really helpful formula.

    The key aspects to keep in mind while developing a headline are:

    S – Specificity
    H – Helpfulness
    I – Immediacy
    N – Newsworthiness
    E – Entertainment value

    This fits perfectly with the examples above. Here’s another:

     10 Funny Things (Entertainment) Research Revealed in 2014 (News) About Pregnancy (Specificity) That You Need to Know Today (Helpfulness and Immediacy) . 

    SHINE – easy to remember, and effective.

    6. Keep it simple

    Sometimes you don’t need all the urgency and sales-y words and crazy numbers to make a headline work.

    Like this example from an English newspaper:

    Man Bites Dog

    That’s all they wrote. And people loved it!

    So if you have a really good angle for your story and can condense it to a few words, do it. No need to blow it up just for the cause of doing it.

    7. Follow hot trends

    To have articles go viral sometimes means finding the right topic at the right time.
    One easy way to do so is to know what’s going on in your niche.Use the following tools to follow popular trends:

    • Feedly
    • Google/Talkwalker/Ahrefs Alerts
    • Newspapers
    • Industry blogs
    • TV News

    For example, I wrote a recent guest post called 77 Resources That’ll Get You More Traffic Than Naked Pictures of Kim Kardashian.

    I leveraged the popularity and trending rise of starlet Kim Kardashian.

    She was mentioned in my article zero times, yet she helped my post get some amazing traction and hundreds of social shares.

    8. Offer a sneak peak (read below why that works)

    Big sites and newspapers often use this technique to draw the reader into any given article.

    Focus on one fact.

    They only mention one word or topic in the headline, and you feel like you must read the rest.

    Why A DeLorean Wouldn’t Work In 2015

    Yes, why wouldn’t it work? I want to know this, even as I’m typing these lines.
    That’s just human psychology.

    Raise curiosity, and deliver the (sometimes useless) answer in your content.

    9. Test like crazy

    Never rely on other people’s wisdom.

    Learn what works for your headlines by testing and writing multiple headlines for each article.

    Jon Morrow, one of the most respected writers in the blogosphere today, cranked out dozens of headlines for each article during his time at Copyblogger.

    Viral headlines aren’t written by the lazy.

    Write more.

    And compare how they perform against each other to know which ones work best for your audience.

    10. Write for humans

    This may be the most important tip.

    You don’t want to be a title-robot writing for SEO, or never stepping away from your formula.

    Content is still produced by humans for other human beings.

    Writing viral headlines is a skill that can be learned.

    Sometimes, writers underestimate the effect of a great title.

    Don’t. Be. That. Person.

    In some cases, it can be even more important than the article itself.

    If you follow the tips above it’s only a matter of time and practice before you get it done.

    But remember–you need to have both: a great article and an attention-grabbing headline to go viral.

    Take your time and master the skill of viral content. It can be done, and it IS worth the effort.

    And as you think about your next headline, why not share this article?

    Have you come across any irresistible headlines recently? Share them in the comments, please!

    About the author

      Philip Kleudgen

      Philip Kleudgen blogs at RestaurantCoverings.com where he regularly shares tutorials in the WordPress space, traffic tips, and insider marketing knowledge. Click here to download his Viral Traffic Blueprint and a nice PDF of this resource list.

    • Hi Mary,
      I will be linking back to this post in the post I am publishing tomorrow.
      By the way, you asked me to remind you…
      Thank you for agreeing to participate in my expert interview. How do you decide which blogs to follow? I will link back to your site. Thank you for the help.

    • Jessica says:

      I love using lists! You can make the headline as unconventional and entertaining as you want. Plus, they’re fun to write and fun to read! Win-Win.

    • I love using lists! You can make the headline as unconventional and entertaining as you want. Plus, they’re fun to write and fun to read! Win-Win.

    • I must confess that Mr. Philip Kleudgen did a great job on this topic: 10 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Go Viral. Though, I have not finished reading the full content but from the sub-heads, the content is very rich. I know I will gain a lot from it. Keep giving us rich contents like this. Many thanks for this great job.

    • totally agree after read ur this post i made some changes in my articles and getting more audience involving reports

    • Very superb and such a nice article thanks for sharing this post.

    • Judy Rofe says:

      Hi Philip,

      I was waiting for it. That headline that didn’t need the number. It was right there and I smiled.

      How often I’ve asked myself, why is everyone using numbers to get the hook in? It began to get a bit tedious. You explained numbers are effective but then you turned it on it’s end and tossed in a one liner for a heading.

      Motivational is what I call this article. Jam packed full of great advice in a no nonsense, easy to comprehend way.

      I enjoyed reading it and I thank you for sharing it.

      ~ Judy

    • Andrew says:

      Hey Philip,

      Great post here on Mary’s blog. Headlines are a tricky thing and takes a long time to master. And even if you think you’ve mastered them, there’s still always more to learn. Love your post and your point about list posts are spot on.

      I never liked them that much, but can’t argue with the results. They do work.

      – Andrew

    • Ana says:

      I’m also a big fan of the Skyscraper technique and it really does work quite well.

    • I must confess that Mr. Philip Kleudgen did a great job on this topic: 10 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Go Viral. Though, I have not finished reading the full content but from the sub-heads, the content is very rich. I know I will gain a lot from it. Keep giving us rich contents like this. Many thanks for this great job.

    • Some great tips. I’m already planning my list post.

    • Mark Tong says:

      Great tips – especially no10 -do everything for humans – they are all we’ve got!

    • Great tips, Mary and Philip! 🙂

      I particularly like the title that uses Kim K. in it. It astounds me what “really” captures the attention of others! LOL

    • Juliar Nur says:

      Thanks for the tips, SHINE, i will keep in mind. Great thought and tips about make a list of headline. Write for human, it seem i forget that every time i learn to much about SEO. Thanks for the tips Philip.

    • Juliar Nur says:

      Great tips, SHINE, very nice acronym to remember
      I will take a more effort make a list about my headline. Thanks for the reminder
      and one thing that i always forget are “write for human”, that’s what happen when you learn to much SEO. Thanks for many tips Philip. Worth every time i use to read it

    • I too want to SHINE! 😀

      LOVELY tips, Philip – this has to rank amongst my top three favorite headline-related posts! #HUGS


    • A great post with lots of good information.

      I have one question.

      Tip #9, Test Like Crazy, is a great suggestion.

      But how do you test it? By posting the same post under different headlines? This sounds like a wonderful tool, but how do you recommend implementing it?

      Thanks again for the tips.

      Best wishes,


      • Hi Carrie,

        the link included in tip number 9 takes you to a post where Matthew Woodward shows how to test multiple headlines for one post using a plugin. This works for every WordPress site.

        You can also use Twitter to test it. Just send out the same links with different text multiple times and find out what works best.

        Over time, you will become better at this I’m sure 🙂

        Hope that helps!

      • Hi Carrie,

        testing headlines is a vital part of improving your writing.

        The link I provided in #9 takes you to an article where Matthew Woodward recommends a plugin to split test headlines in WordPress very effective.

        You could also do this using Twitter. just post the same link with different text to see what works best.

        There are other tools out there like visual website optimizer and competitors, but that would be an article of its own 🙂

        hope that helps!

    • ChrisK says:

      Great list of headline writing techniques, nicely summed up and a great resource of an article.

      One point though, I wonder how many others think this. Copyblogger, HubSpot or KISSmetrics (one or maybe all of those mega blogger sites) had articles saying the best way to draw your reader in is the short one line openers, mention “you”, “you”, “you” get the nods, draw the reader in etc. Months later I am so unbelievably tired of seeing it, so many, many bloggers use it and I am sick of seeing it. “You want to get XYS don’t you? “You are worried about this,” “You wish you could that”

      I almost always stop reading right away and go to the next, it’s gotten to be a lazy, generic, cliched way to open a blog. I’m glad I read this post though, it was good.

      Best way to open blogs now in my opinion is by surprising the reader with an interesting anecdote or fact, or telling an engaging story. Much more interesting.

      • Hey,

        thanks for your feedback. I didn’t recognize that, but I guess I have to check if you’re right.

        Although I have to say for me this introduction containing “you” always worked quite well.

        I also agree with you on the surprise, that’s also a good idea to draw readers in.

        Thanks again!

    • Pat says:

      This is a great post on how to inject marketing not only into your headlines but, the rest of your author’s platform and your writing. Good job!

    • Kathy says:

      Great tips. Sometimes, you can let the wacky content speak for itself!

    • Kimsea Sok says:

      Thanks for sharing..! Actually, I heard a lot of bloggers wrote about make the headline go viral. However, those article are just made me sense about the important of headline but it didn’t bring to whole detail discussion about the topic like what you did.

      Honestly, whenever I want to start my headline, or title of my blog tips. I always find use title analytic of Coschedule to check the score of that title. Sometime, I found that I have less 50 scores of analytic report. I change it, and recheck again.

      You know..? I have no idea to make better, but I tried my best to random the word in that title.

      Thanks for sharing me some techniques to make viral headlines. I love to keep in mind about SHINE when I want to make my post headlines.

      Have nice day…

      • Hi,

        in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with using a headline generator or some tool that checks the viral elements of a title.

        But it’s important to not rely on this. Instead use it and improve the generated title until it fits your post.

    • Great tips as usual! Another approach that works, is finding content which has already gone viral and make it better. Make it better by adding more points and making longer and more graphically appealing. This will bring a good number of shares and tweets if you do it right.


      • Hey Brian,

        I’m also a big fan of the Skyscraper technique and it really does work quite well.

        If you combine that tactic with a strong headline you almost always have a winner!

    • Excellent tips Phillip!

      I love using lists! You can make the headline as unconventional and entertaining as you want. Plus, they’re fun to write and fun to read! Win-Win.


      • Hi Maham,

        I’m glad you found it useful. List posts are always a great way to engage your readers.

        As long as the content is strong it can work great!

    • Great post Philip, with lots of fantastic resources.

      Thank you for mentioning the post on psychological triggers which Viral Nova uses.


      • Hi Eric,

        I think learning from other successful websites can only be a win. In this case, ViralNova is a major player for viral content, so it seemed keeping an eye on them would be worth it 😉

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