Testing Headlines: The Best Way to Improve Headlines for Engagement and Traffic

Testing Headlines: The Best Way to Improve Headlines for Engagement and Traffic

Headlines can be one of the most important parts of any ad or piece of content, however, a lot of marketers and teams overlook their importance. If you are looking to create powerful content you need to know how to test headlines to improve engagement and increase traffic

Headline testing is the process of creating multiple content titles variations that can be compared by presenting them to different audience segments to understand which one is the most effective, engaging, and convince users to come to your site.

Headline testing can be done to optimize the headlines of digital ads, articles, blogs, or other content. The optimization can be based on click-through rate, respondents’ preferences, and feedback you receive to create headlines that the target audience loves.

In this article we will cover everything you need to know about headline testing so you can get the results you want out of your ads and content. 

What are Headlines and Why are They Important

Headlines are the phrases or sentences that appear at the top of your content intended to catch the users attention and persuade them to learn more. A good headline should be clear, concise, and relevant to the product, service, topic, or search intent of the user. They should also be unique, to stand out from the competition and present your business as a thought leader. 

Headlines are vital to the success of your content because they can make or break the likelihood that a user engages with your content. About 80% of people only read the headlines when searching through Google, this means that you can capture 8 out of every 10 users with a powerful headline that convinces them they have found what they’re looking for.

A poorly constructed headline can come across as cheap or unprofessional, pushing the users toward competitors or other content. While a good headline can lead more users to your content and website, the headline is like a first impression, if it goes well you have a good chance of converting the user, if not you might never see them again. 

You only have a few seconds to convince the user that your business can take care of their issues, respond to their questions, or satisfy their needs. Take some time to carefully craft your headlines and test them with real users to find the ones that work best for your business. 

The Most Effective Methods of Headline Testing

Live A/B Testing

Live A/B testing has been a popular method of analyzing headlines. With live A/B testing you show two different versions of an ad to two different groups and see which performs better. This is a good way to test small changes, like small copy changes, headline order, or keyword placement.

In this method, you would run a testing campaign with your two variations (A and B) and then see which one works best. The advantages of this method is that it is usually in-built into an advertising platform and can be effective when running live ads.

The big disadvantage of this method is that it is very expensive and slow to get results. Running live A/B tests requires statistical significance to be reached – which can take weeks or even months to happen. Due to the long wait times this method is sometimes called “forever testing”.

Unmoderated User Testing

Another method is to present your two variations to an audience of real people. The audience looks at the two variations and chooses their winning option. Using modern on-demand user testing platforms like Poll the People, marketers can A/B test their headline variations in minutes. 

The advantages of this method is that it is quick to execute, with most tests finishing in less than an hour. In addition, you get great qualitative human feedback from real people who might be your customers. For example, an example feedback might say “Messaging was very clear with Option A. I understood the offer”. Additionally, this method of headline testing is not limited to ads. You can test headlines from articles, blogs, landing pages, and ads. 

The disadvantage of this method is that if your target audience is very specific, the people giving you the feedback might not be familiar with your content or niche.

Both of these methods have their own benefits and drawbacks, so you’ll need to decide which is best for your needs. Whichever method you choose, make sure to test a variety of headlines to find the one that works best for your content.

The Best Ways to Improve Your Headlines

The most important thing to remember when writing headlines is to be clear and concise. You want your headline to grab attention and make people want to click on your content. Here are a few tips to improve your headlines:


Use keywords that are relevant to your product or service. This will help your content appear in search results when people are looking for what you offer. 


Keep your headlines short and to the point, this is the most effective way to communicate the message of your headline. You want your headline to be easy to read and understand.

Clearly State Benefits

Make your headlines benefit-focused, they should show the viewer what they will get out of what you are offering. Tell people what they will get by clicking on your content. 

Use Action Words

Use strong action words. Words that are powerful and get the attention of the user are more likely to increase traffic to your site. Words like “need”, “Improve”, and “learn” will help users understand what they get out of clicking on your content.

If you follow these tips for creating great headlines you will have a better chance of ranking in search results, getting more users to engage with your content, and increase traffic to your website. 

What Are Some Common Mistakes To Avoid?

There are several common mistakes to avoid when you are creating your headlines. These include using superlatives, making promises that cannot be delivered, and creating headlines that are too long.

Using Superlatives

When it comes to superlatives, it is important to remember that people are skeptical by nature. As such, using words like best, greatest, and most amazing will likely do more harm than good. The headline should focus on what the content can do for the user, rather than making grandiose claims.

Making False Promises

It is also important to avoid making promises that cannot be delivered. This is not only dishonest, but it will damage the reputation of the company. Instead, focus on honest and achievable benefits, claims, and language.

Lengthy Headlines

Finally, it is important to keep headlines concise and to the point. Long, rambling headlines are confusing and off-putting. Stick to the basics and make sure the headlines can be easily understood.

How to Start Headline Testing

There’s no doubt that headlines are important for getting people to click on your content. After all, if your headline isn’t appealing, why would anyone bother reading the rest of your content?

That’s why testing different headlines is so important. By trying out different headlines, you can see which ones are most effective at getting people to click.

So how do you get started testing ad headlines today?

Here are some tips:

  1. Use a free online tool like “Google Headline Optimizer” to come up with AI-optimized ideas for your ad headlines. 
  2. Using two variations of the headlines, run a test of the two variations (A and B). You can run this test either using a live A/B test or a user-testing platform. But remember live A/B testing comes after your headlines are out there, and user testing helps you optimize before making headlines live. 
  3. Analyze the feedback from the test. In particular, pay attention to what users are saying. The user feedback gives you valuable qualitative data about your headlines.
  4. Most importantly: Always be testing. Headline testing should be an ongoing process, not something you do once and then forget about. By continually testing different headlines, you’ll be sure to find the ones that work best for your business.

Testing headlines with an unmoderated user testing tool is one of the best ways to get your content titles right before launching an important piece of content or ad that you will be spending your money on. These tips should help you get started with creating the most effective headlines.


Effective headlines are important to getting your target audience to engage with your content, want to learn more about what you are offering, or even improving conversion opportunities through ads.
Testing headlines before launching content is one of the best ways to ensure you have the best headlines for your content. If you take time to consider the most important elements of a headline like length, relevancy, focus, and call-to-action, you will be on your way to creating the best headlines.

Employ a headline testing process to get feedback from real users on which headline will be most effective once you go live with your content.