7 tips for writing number-based headlines
Recent research from Spurious has proven that every piece of thought leadership content in the world now has to have a number in the headline or it just won’t get read. We never let a bandwagon go unjumped-upon, so here’s the Velocity handy guide to writing headlines with numbers in them:
1) Make sure you get a number in the headline.
This is the most important part of writing number-based headlines but, amazingly, some people still don’t do it.
2) It’s often best to start your headline with the number.
“14 Ways to use Social Media for Building Your Brand” is much better than “Ways to use Social Media for Building Your Brand Fourteen”. Similarly, S-Club Seven would probably still be together if they were called “7 Club S”.
3) Use the arabic number instead of the spelled out word
People who flock to articles and blog posts with numbers in the headline are busy people. They don’t have time to decipher words like ‘fourteen’ or ‘eleven’. Cut to the chase you blithering pedant.
4) Did I mention putting a number in the headline?
Even if I did, it’s worth repeating: your number-based headline just won’t be number-based if it doesn’t have a number in it. If you take just 1 thing away from this important blog post, take this.
5) Always check what number you used in the headline
If you promised 7 tips, by heaven, write 7 tips. Trust me: people will check.
6) If you can’t think of the number of tips you promised, make some up
People don’t care about the actual tips, they just want to know that you delivered on the hypnotic promise of your number-based headline. Get puffing.
7) If you can’t get a number in the headline, don’t write the post
Face it, no one will re-tweet ‘The Gettysburg Address’. But ‘Six Powerful Ways to Remember the Civil War Dead Without Alienating Half the Country” will set Google’s servers alight.
So that’s it! You’ve written your number-based headline; you’ve cranked out some essential tips to deliver on your promise; now cap it off with “So that’s it!” and don’t forget the exclamation point.
David Fideler | February 27th, 2009
Many thanks. That was a hoot.
Roger, Online PR Agency, C&M | February 28th, 2009
eek – rule 7 openly flaunts rule 3! and potentially rule 4 too. my OCD, list-like sensibilities are floored. 6 strokes at 6am for that guilty (‘Six’ ish) rule, please….
Liz Cable | February 28th, 2009
Three things I do with a post I find this funny.
1. I tweet it.
2. I comment on it.
3. erm . . !
Doug Kessler | March 1st, 2009
2 Comments that Will Improve Your Recent Spoof Post
Thanks, David & Roger
Doug Kessler | March 1st, 2009
Thanks Liz – I feel a new post coming on…
Martin Brablec | March 2nd, 2009
Thank you Doug. In the Czech and Slovak language is using numbers in the headline incorrect (4 ways to…). The correct form is “Four ways to…” But this form is less successful.
John Howlett | March 5th, 2009
OK so tell us!
What are the best numbers?
In best to least.
10 words or less please.
Doug Kessler | March 5th, 2009
7 and 11. Maybe 14 too.
5 things content marketers can learn from list headlines | Velocity Partners | July 16th, 2015
[…] few years ago, I even wrote a spoof post called, “7 Tips for Writing Number-Based Headlines” that got so much attention that… nothing […]
Rayna Jhaveri | May 17th, 2016
Dougie “Wise Guy” Kessler strikes again.
Doug Kessler | July 5th, 2016
max | March 7th, 2021
2 cents – Only problem is that all headlines look the same and internet has turned into a massive click bait machine with very low quality writing. Pretty sure journalism school never recommended putting numbers in newspaper headlines.
Doug Kessler | March 15th, 2021
6 Reasons I Couldn’t Agree More.
(The 4th one will SHOCK you).
7 Headline Examples that will Bring 1000 Visitors a Day to your Website - Network Bees | June 7th, 2022
[…] Research indicates that headlines that start with numbers and ones that have numbers in them stand out from within the crowd in Search Engine Result […]