Believe it or not, an effective headline can make or break an entire piece.

Basically, your headlines need to entice consumer action. You need to illicit emotion, create a sense of urgency, and generate a sense that a reader is “missing out” to ensure that they read your content and buy your product. So, make sure your headlines sell. But, how, exactly, do you do that? Luckily, it isn’t too difficult. Be sure to check out these top five tips and tricks.

Tip #1: Start with “How-to”

The bottom line is that people love information. They want to learn something new, figure out how to save time, or learn how to save some money.

If a reader feels that they are going to gain some new, valuable piece of information they are all the more likely to read your piece, as well as share it. Remember, it’s all about presentation. It’s not so much the information you deliver, but the way you present it. If you can trigger a reader’s curiosity and tap into their fear of missing out, anything can go viral. We wouldn’t be surprised to see “How to Pour Plan Water into your Glass in 49 Ways” go viral in one day.

Headline Samples

  • How to Get Rid of Obnoxious Hard Water Stains in Your Bathroom
  • How to Save Money Save Money at the Grocery Store, the Easy Way
  • How to Score Sweet Vacation Deals

Tip #2: Use words like “instantly,” “immediately,” and “now”

Remember, when you want something you want it now. Not tomorrow, not two weeks from today, not next month, but right now. Try to convey that sense of urgency in your headlines because if people are buying something from you they aren’t going to want to wait for it.

It possible, try to align your headlines with your product delivery cycle, it encourages customers to take action and make a purchase.

Headline Samples

  • Get the Latest Version of the iPhone Now
  • Receive Your Order Immediately With Free, Two-day Shipping
  • Book Now and Escape the Snow with a Tropical Getaway

Tip #3: If it bleeds, it leads

Remember, not all words are created equal. There’s a reason why I titled my recent article “The Naked Truth about WordPress Hosting” instead of “The Truth About WordPress Hosting”.

Some words are much more emotionally loaded then others and when it comes to writing effective headlines the whole idea is to illicit powerful emotions. The truism  “if it bleed, it leads” governs new-industry headlines and for good reason. Blood and drama not only grab a reader’s attention, they provoke an emotional response.  Ultimately, emotion prompts action. And when it comes to eliciting emotion in a reader keep in mind that negative emotions are just as powerful as positive ones, oftentimes more so. Words like ‘kill’, ‘bleed’, ‘scary’, ‘dark’, ‘war’, ‘naked’, ‘truth’, and ‘secret’ tend to be incredibly powerful in headlines. Really it boils down to basic psychology: we all have a tendency to act out of fear, anxiety, or nervousness.

Headline Samples

  • The Three Dirty Secrets to Work-place Success
  • The Five Scariest Relationship Warning Signs
  • The Bloodiest Wars of the 21st Century

Tip #4: Ride on the famous

Basically, celebrities have prestige. People want to emulate the success of famous business men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and they want to look like beautiful movie stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Nicole Kidman. So, if you can somehow work a celebrity into a headline by all means, do so.

Headline Samples

  • Bill Gate’s Essential Tips for Success
  • Top 5 Celebrity Weight Loss Tips
  • How to Style Your Hair Like Jennifer Lawrence

Tip #5: Give Specific Calls to Action

The directive headline is incredibly powerful. Readers definitely do not like to be confused. They do like clear, precise directives. So if you can, tell your readers exactly what to do. Ask boldly for an action, create urgency, and explain how that action will benefit your customers.

  • Buy Rossetta Stone Today and Learn a New Language
  • Get Rid of Your Fine Lines and Look Ten Years Younger
  • Buy Now and Get Free Shipping
Infographic Credit: Single Hop

Bonus Tips: Write 25 of them, per an article

When it comes to headlines writing, here’s what folks at UpWorthy advised:

“The ethos behind the 25 headlines is, you can have the best piece of content and make the best point ever. But if no one looks at it, the article is a waste. A headline is all about getting the article in front of people.” says Eli Pariser, founder of UpWorthy.

Don’t expect the first headline you write to be absolutely attention grabbing and totally stellar. The idea is to write as many captivating headlines as you can possibly think of, and then choose the best. So the more headlines, the merrier. And remember, you should always split-test your headlines and call to actions to find the best combination.

Read more: Five Easy Tricks to Writing Headlines That Sell