Three Little Words: New Study Reveals the Best-Performing Headline Phrase

By Joy Ma

New research from Buzzsumo answers the question all marketers eventually ask–if they don’t already every day. Get ready: It’s the best-performing headline phrase.

Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million article headlines published between March 10 and May 10, 2017, and shared the results. With fascinating insights into what makes a great headline it looked at what works on Facebook, do numbers work and the difference between B2B and B2C headlines among other considerations.

The caveat: there’s no magic formula but there are several lessons we can learn from the study.

We did a quick summary. For the full story check out the article on Buzzsumo.

Two-second read: “Will make you” topped the list. It answers directly the question, what’s in it for me?

Two-second read: “Control of your” rated the poorest suggesting Facebook may not be a place for advice possibly.

Two-second read: “X reasons why” led the beginning of headlines and “the world” for the end of headlines.

Two-second read: Posts with 12 to 18 words (80 to 95 characters) in the headline receive the highest number of Facebook engagements on average.

Two-second read: 10 characters still top the list. The following numbers are 5, 15 and 7 according to the research.

Two-second read: At the top of the list is “this is what.” “The truth about” was ranked second among the most engaging headline phrases for Twitter.

Two-second read: Business headlines differ from those written for consumers. “The age of” made it to the top of the list.

Headlines definitely matter.

If it can answer this question: is it worth two-seconds of my time it’s done its job.

Here’s how you can get started per the article:

  • Take as many words as you need to make the case that the article is worth reading
  • Be specific (answer the why, how, the reason is)
  • If it’s not emotional, it should be useful to the reader (work for you, x simple tips, you should use)

Let us know your favorite headline–and did the article do what the headline promised.

Thanks for sharing!

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