You have two audiences online: readers and search engines.
For readers: Headlines should be simple, literal and direct. They must motivate readers to click.
For search engines: Search engines look for keywords. If a headline contains keywords that are also repeated in the text of the article, it will show up higher in search engines.
Suggestions for writing better online headlines:
1. Be descriptive – say clearly what the story is about
2. Use keywords
3. Use conversational language
4. Avoid puns that confuse or are unclear
5. Engage readers – your headline is just one in a zillion circulating on social media.
Love them or hate them, BuzzFeed and UpWorthy know how to do headlines. Here’s an article explaining what Upworthy might mean for the future of online content.