brainworks resized 600You can write like Hemingway, but unless you have an attention-grabbing headline, your prose is doomed to internet oblivion. There are a few tricks to getting noticed, and one big way is to craft a captivating title. This is nothing new.

Take a tip from some of the biggest online attention getters. How, for example, does a BuzzFeed article garner two million views? While one very popular trick is the listicle, using a number (see above, or check out the compelling 31 Grilled Cheeses That Are Better Than a Boyfriend) to grab reader attention, the right words are the real key to getting top search engine ranking. A number, no matter how attractive, will not tell your story, nor will it alert Google about your topic.Newspapers figured this out decades ago.

Here are the words that draw peoples’ attention and compel them to read beyond the boldface:Aside from the twelve words I am about to reveal, always try to include the topic of your article in the headline. That’s for SEO purposes, but it is also the way for customers to find you as quickly as possible. Be clever all you want, but do it in the body of the blog post. Your headline is your beacon. If you can be ingenious and informative, all the better. But go for the latter by default.

  • Effortless
  • Mystery
  • Strange
  • Fun
  • Secret
  • Amazing
  • Incredible
  • Weird
  • Bizarre
  • Essential
  • Absolute
  • Painstaking
  • Free

What is it about these words? They are grouped into several categories. The majority of them trigger peoples’ fear of missing out (AKA FOMO) on something they didn’t or should know: mystery, incredible, essential, absolute, strange, secret, bizarre, and weird.

12 essential words for content marketing headlines

These words also signify the potential acquisition of social capital. That’s cocktail party or water cooler fodder. It’s going to be information the reader can share to make her look cool among her peers.

Words like free, effortless and fun are no brainers. We all want something for nothing; if it’s fun and easy, sign us up. And on the other side of the coin is an outlier: painstaking. This term signifies the human condition. We relate. Life, as much as we would like it to be fun and effortless, is a marathon. We all want to hear stories of how other people get through challenges.

Our brains are hardwired to solve mysteries. The instant that you dangle a question in front of someone, you are inviting him or her to guess at an answer. Consider the toddler who continually seeks answers, repeatedly asking why. If you can trigger that inquisitive part of the brain, you’ve got them hooked.