How to Get More Blog Views with Little Headline Phrases (New Data)

most successful headline phrasesYou blog because you believe it drives traffic. And you’re right. Blogging is the most effective way to get more search traffic, says Forbes.

But as you write, do you wonder “How do I get more people to my blog?” Even with millions of posts going online daily, you can attract more blog views with surprisingly powerful words.

See what three-word phrases can do for a headline. “I’m blown away at how hard people work on producing content only to slap on a crappy headline as an afterthought.” says Larry Kim, CEO of search marketing software Wordstream. Do you avoid using catchy phrases out of concern they might look cheap?

Don’t be so quick to reject common phrases, Kim says. Embrace them! Specifically, use the phrases proven to get more clicks, and more eyeballs on your hard work.

This is why I’m so excited about Buzzsumo’s recent analysis of certain headline phrases on social sharing. BuzzSumo analyzed over 100-million headlines and discovered the power of certain phrases, headline length, and more. They also compared phrase performance in headlines on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These findings will make you write headlines with new confidence.

Buzzsumo’s headline study is so empowering, because anyone — especially a solo entrepreneur working alone — can now use these big data insights for more engaging headlines.

Top Performing Headline Phrases in Facebook

On Facebook, Buzzsumo’s study looked at common phrases among the most engaging headlines. The 5 most-shared titles on Facebook — by far — included these three-word phrases:

  • will make you (8960 average engagements)
  • this is why (4099 average engagements)
  • can we guess (3199 average engagements)
  • only x in (2398 average engagements)
  • the reason is (1610 average engagements)

By themselves, there’s no magic in these phrases. What’s important, says article author Steve Raysons, is understanding why they work.

Why does the phrase “will make you” outperform — by twice as much — the next most popular phrase? The phrase “will make you” does two powerful things, quickly and easily. It promises an emotional reaction, and explains why you’ll feel it. Three little words place a clear emotional experience an easy click a way, and give you a good reason to click.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to re-work low-performing phrases into more enticing ones using this information.

Try them out. I am! I’m watching to see what happens to my share counts after re-writing and re-sharing headlines from my own blog:

  • Before >> 5 Free Tools for Your Small Business and Why You Should Use Them
  • After >> How these 5 free software tools will make your small business more secure, more powerful and more profitable


  • Before >> Want More Traffic? Why Reading Ease Matters
  • After >> Half of can’t read above the 9th grade level. That is why you need this readability guide for your blog.


  • Before >> Does social media marketing work? A basic guide to learning from your data
  • After >> Can we guess if social media marketing is working for to you? We can by checking these numbers.


Do these phrases work just as well on other social sites?

They don’t always. It turns out people really do have different needs and preferences on different social media platforms.

Top Performing Headline Phrases on Twitter

The top 5 performing phrases in titles on Twitter have to do with breaking news or recent findings:

  • This is what (174 average Twitter shares)
  • for the first time (133 average Twitter shares)
  • things to know (123 average Twitter shares)
  • will make you (115 average Twitter shares)
  • x percent of (115 average Twitter shares)

Twitter’s audience cares about the now. The freshness, or newness, of an update triggers more clicks on Twitter than on Facebook. The exception is “will make you.” This phrases is among the top 5 most shared posts on Facebook and Twitter.

What’s important is to see that freshness tends to generate more clicks in Twitter than Facebook when it comes to shares.

Top Performing Headline Phrases on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s users are thinking about the future, and seeking practical advice: what to know, how to get, how to do, or how to make. They want to see what’s coming, and take action.

These are the top 5 performing B2B phrases, from another Buzzsumo study of 10K articles shared on LinkedIn. The most shared headlines on LinkedIn included these phrases:

  • x ways to (270 average shares on LinkedIn)
  • the future of (145 average shares on LinkedIn)
  • x things you (116 average shares on LinkedIn)
  • how to get (110 average shares on LinkedIn)
  • How to make (96 average shares on LinkedIn)

X stands for a number. So you can see list posts tend to be among the most popular for this B2B crowd.

Unlike Facebook, shorter headlines appear to work better on LinkedIn. This B2B crowd clicked more on headlines that ranged between 6 and 12 words in the title. Titles averaging between 15 and 20 words got about 10 fewer shares on average, than pieces with titles in the 6 to 12 word range.

Optimal Headline Length Depends on the Platform

Another assumption to check is headline length. Like many other bloggers, I thought the optimal headline length was about 6 words. Why? Usability expert Jakob Nielsen found that people skip over 72% to 80% of the words on a web page. So he reasoned that headlines should be short to transfer as much meaning in as few words as possible.

Nielsen praised the BBC News for crafting the world’s best headlines, often only 5 words long. Likewise, a Kissmetrics article argued the ideal headline is one you can read at a glance. A 6-word headline is likely ideal, the Kissmetrics post suggests.

This thinking is wrong, at least on Facebook, according to Buzzsumo’s research.   Much longer headlines tend to outperform shorter ones. Headlines using 16-18 words got more than twice as many engagements — 250 on average — than 6-word headlines, which averaged less than 100 engagements on Facebook.

Hubspot’s own analysis of headline length found:

  • 8-12 word headlines got the most Twitter shares on average
  • 12 or 14 word headlines got the most Facebook likes
  • a 60-character blog post title performed best for them
  • 8-word headlines had a 21% higher clickthrough rate according to Outbrain


It matters to know your audiences behave differently across different social platforms. There is no magic headline formula.

  • Discovery and “the first time” news is enticing on Twitter.
  • On Facebook, tapping into emotions tends to bring better results, especially backed up by reason.
  • On LinkedIn, your how-to articles and list posts may perform best.


Go here to read Buzzsumo’s full report of the best B2b headline phrases shared on LinkedIn, based on 10 million posts.

And go here to read Buzzsumo’s study of 100 million headlines and what they learned.

And next time you’re writing, try on some of these phrases for your headlines! Knowing proven three-word phrases will make you feel excited to write more shareable headlines.

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