This is a ‘no fluff’, all action article which will mean you can write or amend articles for your company and really cut through the noise. Once you start with power words you’ll never want to stop and I must warn you that the list is endless and so this article is your kick-start to a life of research. Enjoy.
P.S. The headline above uses ‘discover’, ‘experts’ and ‘astonishing’ – all power words. If you’re reading this, they worked.
Anxious about missing out on power words? This is what they are:
Power words are those magic words that turn a dull, unemotive headline or sentence into an unmissable, unignorable piece of text that drives the reader to action and drives pounds and pence into your business coffers.
If you read the above paragraph it is probably because I used ‘anxious’ and ‘missing out’ in the headline.
Use them on your website, in your blogs on landing pages and on social media.
Headlines with power words are your key to success in the digital world
In the old days when giants such as David Ogilvy worked as famous copywriters the headline was placed just above the rest of the words on a press ad or poster but even he recognised that without a great headline nobody would read the ad, no matter how well written it was.
Today the headline may be on a different page or even website!
So unless your headline works literally nobody will look at the rest of your work.
David Ogilvy’s power word list was published in 1963 and I think many still apply today. Others such as ‘miracle’ and ‘revolutionary’ have probably become a bit overused!
Headlines and subheads that create an urgent, emotional response in your readers will make you unstoppable.
Visit some of the great websites on this subject such as Neil Patel’s and you get a crash course in power words – and that’s before you actually read any of his guides! This page includes a ton – here are some we spotted:
- Step by Step
- How to
Avoid disaster: Writing great headlines isn’t just about power words
This article has some great power words and also some tips on writing a great headline. The areas to consider:
- Can you trigger a reader’s curiosity?
- Can you create an emotional response?
- Make bold claims
- Ask for action
- Be human, warm and authentic (we love this one)
- Optimise for SEO – choose keywords wisely
So what are Power Words?
The good news is that there are loads of power words and endless pages of lists which I will share lower down. Here are some key power words:
You / yours
A quick test you can run now on any page on your website is to count how many times you use ‘we’ or your business name versus how many times you use the power word, ‘you’. Using ‘you’ is an ultimate power word. Why? Because it instantly means that you are addressing me, your reader. Instantly I know this and I feel heard and understood.
You may have read about the ‘Xerox’ experiment. Xerox, for youngsters, is the old word for a photocopier and there was often a queue to use them in the old days.
The experiment that relates to power words was as follows:
Go the the queue and ask to cut the line before adding:
- a) nothing
- b) …because I’m in a rush (valid reason)
- c) …because I have to make some copies (nonsense reason)
What do you think the results were?
Well amazingly the only word that matters is ‘because’. What follows made no difference.
- 60% agreed
- 93% agreed
- 94% agreed
‘Because’ is a power word because we are tuned to see what follows as important.
I guess this one is obvious and to me it can feel a bit cheap in a way. We’re all programmed to tune in to a bargain though so use when appropriate.
Really this power word should drive your pricing strategy if you take note of why Amazon is so successful – even if the total eCommerce order price is MORE we will buy more of a product if the shipping is FREE. (The French government has banned free shipping in a swipe at Amazon so it now charges 1 cent!)
Instant is a power word because we seek gratification and the sooner the better, right? Well yes but this could conflict with another power word : exclusive.
A copywriter added a waiting list to those seeking his services and was instantly (!) able to increase his prices. Why? Because the services suddenly seemed much more exclusive.
Anyway some uses of ‘instant’:
- Add instant power to your marketing with this list of power words
- Instant access for subscribers
According to Roger Dooley who is a neuroscience expert, we are hardwired to respond to novelty or newness because it triggers our reward centre. He presumes this is linked to survival in our caveman days where a new source of food or safety was key to our wellbeing.
As a power word for business these days it seems to call out to me as I try to stay ahead of the pack of metaphorical wolves by offering a new thing that they don’t yet know!
This is a great power word for blog headlines when we know that people are actively seeking knowledge. We use ‘How to’ as a power word very often here at The Ambitions Agency because we want to help people with their various challenges around SEO and inbound and we want to demonstrate our team’s expertise.
Certainly it will help drive shares on social platforms as well.
Note: An article that follows this headline must be genuinely helpful or it could backfire!
A great power word may be a number! Certainly Google loves us to use numbers in our SEO work and will often rank a page higher if it includes a number. Here are some examples:
- 12 common reasons why you may be missing out on revenue
- Discover how to see at least 140% increase in your subscribers
- The new system that will help you see 28 new clients a week.
47 ubiquitous power words from buffer.com
Power Word Resources
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