How To Conduct A Headline Audit That Will Improve Your Traffic By 121%

Today I’m going to show you a process that helped me grow my website traffic and rank for keywords without much effort.

This method helped me outrank my competitors and stay on top of the search results. If you don’t believe me, look at this:

Outrank Your Competition GooglePin

I managed to outrank some big players like Inc, Quicksprout, Neil Patel, Forbes, and Link Assistant.
But here’s the kicker:

It also improved my organic traffic by 121% for one of my pages.

Headline Audit Case StudyPin

The best part?

I didn’t publish any new content or build any links. I just made one change which took me ten minutes!

So what did I do?

I updated my article’s headline. Now, before this sounds like a buzzkill, let me tell you something:

I have a process of updating blog post titles that improve their ranking on Google. This process is called a headline audit.

You already do regular content and SEO audits to keep track of your content and rankings. But have you ever considered conducting a headline audit for your website?

I’m sure not.

That’s because no one ever talks about it. Optimizing headlines usually comes under content and SEO audits. This is why many marketers and SEOs don’t give it much importance.

But now it has become essential to make sure your headlines are the best on SERPs. With RankBrain in the picture, it is important to optimize your headlines for better rankings.

Only eight out of ten people will read your headline, but only two out of ten will read your content.

This means that your headlines should be magnetic. If you’re a good content marketer, you make sure that your headlines are good every time you publish content.

But many (good) marketers fail to optimize the headlines of their existing content. This way, you lose traffic from the search engines.

Now if your website has a ton of content, it’s really hard to check and optimize the headlines of all your posts.


You can do a headline audit by optimizing content with low CTR.

Oh Ahfaz, I can’t afford those expensive SEO tools. I’m gonna pass.

Hear me out first:

I’m going to show you how to do a headline audit with the most powerful SEO tool in the world. In addition to this, the tool is completely free.

Let’s dive into the process of conducting a headline audit.

How To Conduct A Headline Audit

There are two steps to the headline audit process:

  • Identify pages with low CTR
  • Update the headlines of these pages

Let me explain these steps in detail now.

Step 1: Identify pages with low CTR

I’m going to analyze and audit the headlines of the website Graphic Tunnel (now inactive).

So to analyze your website headlines, log in to Google Webmaster tools. That’s right, the most powerful SEO tool which is completely free.

Once you’ve logged into Webmaster tools, go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics. This is what it looks like:

Search Analytics Webmaster ToolsPin

Now select CTR and Impressions and deselect Pages. Also select impressions, CTR, and position on top.

Here’s why you need to sort your results by CTR:

Your CTR or click-through rate determines how your content performs on the search results.

Pages with low CTR mean and high impressions mean they are performing very badly on Google. Let me give you an example:

Suppose a keyword ranking on top gets 1000 impressions per day and its CTR is only 1%. This means you’ll only get 10 visits every day. Because Organic Visitors = CTR x 1000 = 1% x 1000 = 10.

This is terrible because you’re losing traffic and leads just because your headline is bad. Yes, there are many other factors like the meta description and rich snippets but the headline is the most contributing factor to bad CTR.

Here’s the CTR of my website Graphic Tunnel:

Search Analytics Report Graphic TunnelPin

The average CTR of 4.25% is not so good. I’ll now show you how you can improve your CTR by improving your headlines.

Sort your results with impressions (high to low). This will give us pages that get a high number of impressions. We’ll go through each result and find pages with low CTR.

Search Analytics Sorted By ImpressionsPin

Download this report and sort the results by impressions. Now you can see the CTR of pages that have high impressions.

Graphic Tunnel Search Analytics ReportPin

Now it’s time to highlight pages with low CTR. But how do you find out whether your pages have low or high CTR?
Larry Kim explains it in this article but if you want a short answer, take a look at this graph:

CTR vs Organic Search PositionPin

As you can see, CTR depends on the average position on the search results page. So if you have a 30% CTR you should probably rank in the first position.

This way we will look at the position and the CTR of pages with high impressions and highlight those with low CTR. Once you do this, you’ll be able to find pages that need changes in the title tag. The red ones are pages with low CTR.

Average CTR Graphic Tunnel SAPin

Once you filter out pages with low CTR, create a new spreadsheet and paste the URL of these pages. Also, add the title of these pages right next to them.

Pages with Headline Graphic Tunnel SAPin

Now comes the real work. You have to check the headline score of these headlines and improve them.

Step 2: Update the headlines of these pages

CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer tool will help you do this.

Head over to Headline Analyzer and enter the headline of your post. Create a new column in your spreadsheet and enter the score of your current headline. This way, update the headline scores of all the headlines.

Now it’s time to improve these headline scores. Here’s how you can do it:
Let’s test this headline: 13 Best Bbpress Plugins To Enhance Your Forums

Headline ScorePin

The headline’s score is 65. Not bad but if you really want to improve your headlines, always try to get a headline score above 70.

To improve this headline, test 10-15 headlines and choose the one that is most relevant and has the highest score.
After testing different headlines, I found this one:

Updated HeadlinePin

This headline got a score of 72 and is better than the previous headlines. Just like this, update the headlines of your posts that have a low CTR.

In your spreadsheet, create two new columns named: Updated headline and Updated headline score
This is how your sheet will look like:

Updated Headline ScoresPin

But here comes a problem:

How do you improve your headlines?

Here are some tips that will help you:

3 Simple Tips To Improve Your Headlines

1. Use Numbers in your headline

Using numbers in your headline will improve its click-through rate. Also, use odd numbers because they are remembered easily.

2. Keep your headline between 50-70 characters

If your headline exceeds this limit, your headline will not be completely visible on the SERPs which will reduce your CTR and will lead to a decrease in rankings.

3. Use Sensory and Power words

These words will help you improve your headline a lot and make it more attractive. Moreover, sensory words will help you create an emotional connection with the reader.

You can read more about improving your headlines in this detailed article that I published.
That’s it. Your headline audit is complete. Congratulations!

This is what I did to rank for multiple keywords without building any links. Remember the example I showed you in the beginning?

My page was ranking on the 3rd page of Google when my blog post title was this:

Outrank Your Competition Old HeadlinePin

After conducting a headline audit, I changed my headline to this:

Outrank Your Competition New HeadlinePin

And guess what? As a result of updating my headline, the page went from the 3rd page to the #1 position on Google in a matter of days.

Conducting a headline audit will help you keep your CTR and rankings steady.

If you care about your blog post titles, do a headline audit every two months.

But remember this:

Don’t think that you can rank #1 for very competitive keywords by updating the headline. Yes, you will definitely see an improvement in rankings but this does not guarantee the #1 spot. Moreover, there are other factors that also come to play when you’re trying to rank for a very competitive keyword.

Furthermore, if you’re website is ranking in positions from #7 – #15, updating the headline can help you rank in the top #3 position of the search results. And updating your article and giving it a few tweaks will do the rest of the work.


So let’s wrap this up. I’m sure now you know how to conduct headline audits and why it’s important.

The process mentioned that I use is very simple and you can do a headline audit in an hour or two depending on the number of articles published on your blog.

If you’re not tech-savvy, you can simply test your headlines on CoSchedule’s free tool and improve them.