Write Better Website Headlines With The Headline Test

Learn how to craft better website headlines with The Website Test. New website visitors will decide if they will stick around your website within their first 15 seconds on it. Website headlines can make or break whether they stay or leave.

Write Better Website Headlines With The Headline Test

Your website only has 15 seconds to captivate its visitors and keep them from hitting the back button. Those 15 seconds can make or break how successful your website is. The key to making the most of this short window of opportunity? Crafting compelling website headlines that leave a lasting impression.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the importance of website headlines and introduce you to a powerful tool called “The Headline Test” to help you write better headlines that grab your audience’s attention and drive engagement.

Don’t want to read? Watch the YouTube video below for a visual explanation of the same content.

The Crucial Role of Website Headlines

The easiest way to understand the importance of website headlines is to think back to the last time you were searching for a business. You probably went to Google, entered your search, and clicked the first result. Within those first 15 seconds, you scanned the website and made a decision on if the website was worth your time. YOUR WEBSITE VISITORS DO THE SAME THING. Your audience arrives, and within seconds, they’ll decide whether to stay and explore or hit the exit. This is where website headlines play a pivotal role. They can either entice visitors to stay, explore your content, and eventually convert into customers, or they can drive them away.

The pathways website visitors take

The pathways website visitors take

The Three Key Objectives:

  1. Minimize Bounce Rate: Your headline should discourage visitors from leaving your website immediately.
  2. Maximize Retention: It should grab their attention and make them want to stay.
  3. Encourage Conversion: Ultimately, it should lead them to take action – to convert.

The Building Blocks of Your Website

Before we delve into the intricacies of writing effective headlines, let’s break down the basic elements of a website. At its core, a website consists of two primary components: text and graphics. Text includes headlines, which are typically bold and provide an overview of a section’s content, as well as paragraphs for more detailed information. On the other hand, graphics encompass images, charts, videos, icons, and other visual elements that enhance the user experience.

For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll be focusing on headlines, as they are a critical component of your website’s first impression and engagement factor.

**Why Headlines Matter**

It’s no exaggeration to say that headlines can make or break your website. Poorly written headlines can lead to a high bounce rate, meaning visitors leave quickly. Even if they stick around, unclear or uninspiring headlines can deter them from converting into valuable leads or customers.

When your headlines are subpar, your message becomes muddled, and visitors can’t discern the value your business offers or what action they should take next.

Writing Bad Headlines Means

  • No one will care
    • Visitors leave for your competitors
    • Visitors don’t convert
  • The wrong people will care
    • Wastes their time
    • Wastes your time

Introducing The Headline Test

The Headline Test

The Headline Test

The Headline Test is a powerful tool to gauge whether your website headlines effectively communicate your value proposition. When executed correctly, this test can achieve several crucial outcomes:

  • Capture the attention of visitors so they don’t leave for the competition.
  • Increase the time visitors spend on a page.
  • Improve conversion rates.
  • Attract higher-quality website visitors.

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of conducting The Headline Test on your website:

Step 1: Select a Webpage

Start by choosing a webpage on your site, whether it’s your homepage or a specific landing page.

Step 2: Read Headlines

Focus solely on the large, bold words in each website section – these are your headlines.\

**Step 3: Ask Two Questions**

For each headline, ask yourself two vital questions:

  • Does this headline communicate value?
  • If it doesn’t provide value, does it at least offer context?

The Value Equation

The value equation

The value equation

Value, in this context, is defined by the above value equation:

  • Dream Outcome and Perceived Likelihood of Achievement (maximize).
  • Time Delay and Effort/Sacrifice (minimize).

Your headlines should touch upon one or more of these four points. Increase the top two and decrease the bottom two.

Step 4: Ensure Clarity

Your headline must be easy to understand even for someone with no prior knowledge of your business beyond its name.

Step 5: Include a Call to Action

After reading your headlines the visitor should be motivated to take action. GIVE THEM A CALL TO ACTION (CTA). A motivated website visitor with no idea what to do does both them and you a disservice. This guides users on the next steps to take, ensuring that they’re not just engaged but motivated to act.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Before we move on to practical examples, it’s crucial to steer clear of common pitfalls:

  1. Don’t Be Clever: Don’t try to be clever with your headlines. Keep them straightforward and easy to grasp. Keep It Simple Stupid.
  2. Don’t Assume Prior Knowledge: Remember that your visitors may not possess the same level of knowledge as you do. Avoid jargon and assume less familiarity with your industry.
  3. Don’t Dive into the ‘How’: While you can elaborate on the ‘how’ within your content, keep your headlines focused on communicating value or context.

Real-World Examples

To better understand The Headline Test in action. Before we dive in, I want to set the stage. Look at these examples from the mindset that you clicked on the website for the first time. We don’t know anything about them. Let’s get started.

Example 1: TWR Fitness

This is a website that I designed and built. Let’s go section by section and see how it holds up to the Headline Test.

headline test one

Headline Needham’s Premier Private Fitness Studio

Does it provide value No, but it sets the context. We now know **what** TWR Fitness is.

Is it simple Yes

The second headline in this section

Headline Do You Do You Want a Body That Is Happier, Healthier, and Full of Energy?

Does it provide value Yes, we are painting a dream outcome.

Is it simple Yes

headline test two

Headline Personal Training in Its Purest Form

Does it provide value No, but it specifies further that this studio offers personal training.

Is it simple Yes

headline test three

Headline TWR Fitness is About Enjoying the Process and Building Consistency

Does it provide value Yes, it talks about reducing the amount of effort and sacrifice.

Is it simple Yes

headline test four

Headline Unleashing Your Full Potential Is at the Core of What I Do!

Does it provide value Yes, by talking about how this is ALL Tristan does it increases the likelihood of achievement.

Is it simple? Yes

headline test five

Headline: Fitness Doesn’t Need to be Difficult

Does it provide value Yes, again we are talking about how fitness doesn’t need to be hard - reducing effort and sacrifice.

Is it simple? Yes

call to action

We end with a Call To Action. If the above headlines resonated with you then you know that you should make Today the day for change.

In this example, the headlines effectively communicate what the business does, why it’s valuable, and what actions visitors should take.

Example 2: Wealthfront

It is not just small local businesses that use this trick. Larger companies make sure their websites pass The Headline Test as well. Let’s look at Wealthfront.

headline test example 2 test one

Headline: Give all your money a place to grow

Does it provide value Yes, we talk about the dream outcome of having more money.

Is it simple? Yes

headline test example 2 test two

Headline: More interest on your cash. Earn 4.80% APY

Does it provide value Yes, again we talk about earning more with our money, dream outcome.

Is it simple? Yes

headline test example 2 test three

Headline: Higher-yield, lower-risk bond ETFs.

Does it provide value Yes, lower risk means more likelihood for achievement and less sacrifice, both mean more value.

Is it simple? Yes

headline test example 2 test four

Headline: Automated, diversified long-term investing

Does it provide value: Yes, automated long-term investing means “I” have to give less effort and sacrifice less.

Is it simple? Yes

Wealthfront’s headlines succeed in conveying their focus on financial growth with minimal risk and effort. We may not know 100% what Wealthfront is from just the headline but we know they are finance-related and they make some bold claims to add value. If we were interested in this we might be compelled to take action. Their website doesn’t have a Call To Action which means they are likely losing out on new signups.


By applying The Headline Test and crafting clear, value-driven headlines, you can make a profound impact on your website’s effectiveness, ensuring that those critical 15 seconds lead to more engaged visitors, higher conversion rates, and ultimately, the success of your online presence. If you have any questions or need further guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out

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As a bonus for sticking with us through this exploration of The Headline Test, we’re offering you a free website review! Click the button below, fill out the form, and I will get back to you shortly with your custom 15-minute video audit of your website. This comprehensive review will offer insights into areas for improvement and highlight your website’s strengths.

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