How to write great headlines? What's the best online headline analyzing tool?

Why are good headlines important, especially for blog posts?

There is no doubt that beautifully written headlines draw attention to written content like nothing else. A bold image is the only exception. Experienced writers know it, copywriters and advertisers know it, sub editors in newspaper offices know it, text monitors in television newsrooms know it. Well, good bloggers also know it.

What is a great headline?

A bit of theory before we come to the tips part.

The quality of headline depends on the expressions that we put in it. Expressions can be categorized in the following way, in decreasing levels of impact:

  • Emotions: Emotions are the most irresistible expressions, whether in text or visuals or music. In the case of headline, you can play with words for creating fear or greed or anger or satisfaction or happiness or... This is what most advertisers do with their punchlines.
  • Urgency: You can make the reader of the headline feel that he might miss something if he does not act immediately OR he might gain big if he acts. Urgency, when supported by the right emotion, is often highly effective. 
  • Tips: You stop when some tip draws your attention, isn't it? If your post has some advice in it for the reader, bring that aspect up in the headline. 
  • Information: Information attracts visitors but giving just information without other ingredients does not invite attention. If only information is what you are presenting, give it an interesting twist.

But the reality is that even after knowing what interests the reader, we cannot all the time write emotional content and emotional headlines. Sometimes the right words and expressions do not come to us, sometimes we don't give enough creative time to writing headlines and sometimes the subject might need a sober treatment.

If for some reason we deliberately write a bland headline, that's OK. For example, in the case of a blog showcasing scientific research. But in most cases, there should be no reason for not trying to write the best possible headline for the post.

The headline must fully relate to the article; the beauty of the great headline is in bringing the best part of article to the top and inviting the visitor to read it. In trying to write a 'juicy' headline, we should never fool the reader into believing that there is something great in the body text while there is none.

There are a number of quite useful headline tools freely available on the web to check your headline and also give you some tips on how to improve it. Play with words, compare different headlines and choose the best one for your post. Read on...

Best headline tools

Here are what we found to be the best headline analyzing tools. All these are online and free, but if you use them again and again, they might ask you for [free] registration.
3 best hl analyzers: different appeals, different scores

Coschedule calls its headline analysis tool as 'the #1 headline analyzer'. It gives a score when you type a headline into its text box, based on many factors. 

Coschedule says, headlines are great when they (i) convert (e.g. lists, how to's); (ii) have a balance between common and uncommon words, and have power words; and (iii) are optimized for length.

AMI's headline analyzer is supposed to check the 'emotional marketing value' of the headline input-ed in its text box. The tool tells whether the headline is intellectual, emphatic or spiritual and how much it scores on the emotional scale of 0-100%.

Sharethrough's headline tool also gives a percentage score and breaks it down further into engagement and impression. It also lets you know what you need to add, e.g. 'alert words', proper branding and celebrity.

You need not go by a tool's rating or suggestions. Finally it is your gut feeling and your own judgement that matters. It should be the best you can think of.
Btw, the headline of this post got the following scores:
CoSchedule: 77 (excellent); AMI: 7.7% (much below average); ShareThrough: 73 (above average). 
The scores for an emotive, marketing version 'The killer headline tool worthy of dying for!' were like this: CoSchedule: 68% (good); AMI: 25% (above average): ShareThrough: 68% (average).

Disclaimer: We do not have any type of commercial dealing with tools recommended here.


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