Fred Schebesta

Killer headlines make your website sell. Here’s how to do it…

How to write a killer headline

Fred Schebesta

In any website, landing page or advertisement, your headline is the most important part:

  1. Website landing page – The first words your visitor reads when they land on your landing page.
  2. Google AdWords copy – The headline in your Adwords copy will determine if your ad gets viewed or not. I would recommend using the keyword you are optimising for in the headline as it usually gives you a better quality score and encourages more clicks.
  3. Banner ads – The copy in your banner ad determines whether someone clicks on the image. The image needs to tell a story and support the copy. Checkout some banners on some websites and notice what you look at.
       a. Image – This sucks you in and supports the copy.
       b. Copy – This determines if you click or not.
       c. Action to take – What do you need to do to take action.

How can you write a killer headline?

  1. Test – Understand that writing the best headline ever requires testing. Just like with those ads I clipped out from London, they had been tested and perfected. I clipped them out because the advertisers had done the testing for me and I noted it in my list.
  2. What is in it for you – Start from the key appeal of your readers. What is in it for them. The best headlines have self-interest built into them for their readers to be enticed.
  3. Remove complicated words – If any word won’t make sense to a six year old, revise it and put something simpler in there. If it doesn’t make sense to anyone who reads it, change it.
  4. Do not be funny, cute or tricky – These headlines are written for copywriters and they don’t sell. Your headline is there to sell, not impress people with your copywriting skills.
  5. Copy from the best – There are tried and tested formulas for headlines and you may as well use them. My personal favourites are “How to travel overseas for under $37 a day”, “Finally, a credit card without fees” or “Advice on saving money with credit card debt”. Simple words that gain your interest. Copy them and test your own.
  6. Curiosity – If you can get a user curious, you will also get more attention – although attention doesn’t necessarily mean sales. Headlines that sell are better than headlines that get users to look. You know those funky ads on billboards where they just say something weird and you just get confused. Dump that idea. Just hit your target market’s selfish bone and get them into your copy.

Analysis of a great headline

“They laughed when I sat at the piano, but when I started to play…”

This is a classic John Capels ad that ran for over seven years and sold distance learning piano courses every time it ran. Why?

  1. The headline has story value – The copy continues to tell how this person learnt to play the piano and how you too can learn.
  2. You are immediately curious – Why did they laugh? What happened when you started to play?
  3. The product is bang in the middle – You are immediately enlightened to the benefits of the product. This course will teach you how to play the piano and shock your friends at your new ability.
  4. The headline has appeal – “Be popular and attract attention”. Prestige, enjoyment and gain more leisure.

I love copy. It makes your website sell. Bad copy = no sales.


Fred Schebesta’s company Freestyle Media is an established innovative online marketing agency specialising in building search engine friendly corporate websites and running online marketing campaigns.

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