Words, The Building Blocks Of Publisher Success

April 23, 2018

Selecting the right words is an essential part of communicating, whether you’re speaking directly to a person or writing content. This is why it’s important that you choose words that appropriately relate to your subject matter, convey your message at the right level for your audience, and most importantly, express what you are trying to say.

It’s extremely important to use words that are strong and meaningful throughout any means of communication, whether it’s a headline or an article. When a contractor is building a structure, it’s crucial that they use strong, reliable materials in order to build a solid foundation and framework. Words are a writers building materials, and much like a contractor, it’s vital that the words they use also provide a strong foundation for the information they’re trying to convey.

“Words are the bricks of our world and they have the power to change it.”

– Enock Maregesi

A headline is your first and sometimes only chance to get eyes to your content. In a world and society where so much content is being posted so frequently, especially on social media platforms, you can’t afford to become another piece of content that readers skim past. This is why words are so important, as they can get you one step closer to breaking through the web’s endless amount of content clutter.

Imagine how much content goes unnoticed each year. Writing to mass audiences use to be for media publishers, now, anyone can publish content on the internet. According to ‘A Day In The Life Of The Internet’, 2.73 million blogs alone are posted daily – that’s 1,896 blogs per minute.

We’re Here To Help

Over the past few months, we’ve continued to release headline performance data and best practices blogs. Our aim is to support the premium publishing industry by arming publishers with insights and trends that will help ensure they get the attention and recognition they deserve.

In case you missed, here are the first three blogs we released in our ongoing ‘Headline Best Practices’ blog series:

  1. Your Branded Content Headlines Should Be 12 To 16 Words Long examines how headline length can impact CTR performance.
  2. Here’s What Numbers & $pecial Char@cters You Should Use In A Branded Content Headline explores how different numbers and characters affect CTR.
  3. First Impressions Matter! Here’s How To Start A Branded Content Headline demonstrates how to properly start a branded content headline, examining which words or phrases you should use at the beginning of a headline.

In this post, we’ll examine how the use of words directly affects CTR performance.

Positive & Negative Words

‘If it bleeds, it leads’ is not always true…

For decades, editors and publishers have said that “if it bleeds, it leads,” meaning that the most traumatic stories would generate the highest engagement. As this might be true for local news, we’ve discovered that this isn’t always the case with branded content. After reviewing over 10,000 headlines, we discovered that positivity can outperform negativity. In this section, we’ll review the top 5 performing positive and negative words used in a branded content headline.

Positive Words

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the use of the 5 positive words that had the highest CTR performance.

  • Positivity can outperform negativity – Including positive words in a headline stresses positive actions, sounding helpful and encouraging rather than bureaucratic.

Negative Words

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the use of the 5 negative words that had the highest CTR performance.

  • Using negative words often works because it strikes curiosity. Readers are curious about negative things they shouldn’t be doing or don’t want to happen.

Topics & Categories

Include Words That Relate To Your Topic…

Before you even start to write a headline, it’s important that you first brainstorm and put together a list of words that directly relate to your topic. Not only will this improve the content’s reach through search engine optimization (SEO), it will also stimulate the reader by grabbing their attention and increase their desire to click the headline.

In this section, we’ll review the top performing topics and categories, as well as dig deeper into the top performing words that relate to the topics and categories.

Individual words were grouped into a specific category based on different topics, such as hobbies or food. The chart plots out the aggregate median CTR for the different word categories.

Top Performing Words For Each Topic & Category

Hobbies and Body, Fitness & Health

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the top 5 performing words relating to hobbies and body, fitness & health.

Education and Family & Relationships

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the top 5 performing words relating to education and family & relationships.

Dates, Places & Time and Business & Finance

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the top 5 performing words relating to dates, places & time, and business & finance.

Food and Technology

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the top 5 words relating to food and technology.

Countries & Cities and Travel

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the top 5 performing words relating to countries & cities, and travel.

Sports and Locations & Places

The chart plots out CTR performance based on the top 5 performing words relating to sports, and locations & places.

Looking for more branded content headline insights and best practices?

Check out our 37-page whitepaper ‘What Makes A Great Branded Content Headline?’ We take a much closer like at the relationship between headline performance and characters, numbers, words, and phrases.

[Download Whitepaper] What Makes A Great Branded Content Headline?

Please note, this research represents the aggregate performance data from our sample. We are not recommending a “one size fits all”, in that the benefit of branded content is building experiences that are relevant to your voice, tone, platform, and environment for your audiences.



Polar’s Snapshot of Global Branded Content Performance presents the complete picture for major markets and publishers this past year. This benchmarks report presents a detailed look at global aggregate performance data, as well as specific performance across Australia, United States, and United Kingdom.