How to Write a Hook

Here’s what matters the most on a webpage. The first sentence. 

That’s right. The. First. Sentence.

See what we’re doing here? We’re trying to get you “hooked” and interested enough to read the rest of this article. 

As Cynthia Markanis, a writing expert, says, “We’re bombarded with information every day. Posts. Emails. Notifications. Like a screaming baby, they’re all crying out for our attention. To be read. To have us comment. Share. Sign up. Buy up. Yet many don’t grab our attention— or hold our attention long enough.”

In other words, you need to WOW people with the first sentence – maybe even the first phrase – you write in a blog post, headline, product description, email newsletter, email subject line, social media caption, text, or anything else that contains words. This first sentence or few words is called a “hook.” And it’s just like a fishing hook. You want to catch readers, i.e. fish.

how to write an engaging hook

What Experts Say About the Importance of the First Few Words of Text on Any Screen

Eye-tracking studies have consistently proven that people pay attention to the first line of text on any screen. After that, they “scan” words. One study says, “On pages with distinct cells of content, people often process those cells in a lawn-mower pattern: they begin in the top left cell, move to the right until the end of the row, then drop down to the next row, move to the left until the of the row, drop down the next row, and so on.”

But the more they read, the less likely they are to pay close attention, especially if they aren’t “hooked” by the first paragraph. The same study says, “Several participants in our study began reading articles nearly linearly and completely until they hit a pull quote or inline ad. After reaching one of those elements, the participants abandoned their reading and fell into light scanning.”

Here’s how another expert in online writing and reading started an essay about this topic. “I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all. So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! We’re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didn’t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!”

Why You Still Need to Write around 1500 Words on each Web Page

You may be thinking, if people only read the first sentence or a few, why don’t I just write short blog posts, product pages, and other pages? The problem is this – Google’s algorithm that determines where they display websites in search engine results pages (SERPs) can detect the number of words on a page. And Google suggests that pages contain at least 1500 words to boost your rank in SERPs. 

It’s hard for the average person to write that much without being repetitive or filling a page with cliches. At SEO Design Chicago, we meet the word count by including a lot of research and facts, like:

  • Studies
  • Quotes
  • Examples 
  • Interesting facts

Writing a post that’s 1500 words, and including these four attributes, shows you are an expert in your field. And that’s another thing that boosts your website in SERP. Google calls these factors “experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness,” abbreviated to E-E-A-T.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t count on artificial intelligence (AI) to create high-quality content for you. Google detects AI-generated content and ranks sites that use it lower in SERPs. Plus, many AI tools like Chatbox are clearly robotic writers. They don’t write interesting hooks like humans can. 

writing a hook

So How Do You Write a Hook?

Remember a hook is just the first few words or sentences. So that includes a headline, a subheading (i.e. the few lines of text beneath a headline like we have here), and the first paragraph (just to be safe). 

For example, in this article about writing hooks, the headline is 7 Tips for Writing an Attention-Grabbing Hook. The subheading, or subtitle, is “How do you get a reader interested in what you have to say? One technique is to use a great hook—an opening so exciting that it convinces a reader that your story is worth reading.”

But what do you actually write for a headline, subtitle, or the first few sentences of a piece of text? Here are some ideas to spark your creativity.

A Summary of the Whole Page

A summary lead is also known as a ‘straight’ or ‘direct’ lead.  This type of hook delivers all the essential points of the story right away, immediately giving the reader everything they need to know in the first sentence. It is the preferred method of writing news stories, as those particular cases need facts that are delivered clearly and quickly right up front. You usually cannot include every single fact in its entirety. The full facts come later in the rest of the article. 

As you’re writing the summary, make sure you answer the following key questions:

  • What is the article about?
  • Who is affected by this?
  • Where is this happening?
  • Why does it matter? 

how to hook readers

An Interesting Question

Another way to get people hooked on what you’re writing is by asking an interesting question. You can’t do this every time you write a blog post, headline, or social media caption, but you can do it occasionally.

Here’s the thing: Make sure your question is short, conversational, and simple. Make sure it’s not rhetorical. Make sure the answer isn’t obvious. After all, your goal is to get people to read more.

Here are two examples:

Bad opening hook with a question: Do you want people to buy products on your website?

Good opening hook with a question: Does it ever keep you up at night wondering why some people complete purchases on your website but other people abandon their carts? 

An Interesting Statistic

Some facts are fascinating and will entice people to continue reading all by themselves. Here’s the key: The fact has to be relatively unknown. It can’t be a fact that almost everyone knows on some level. In addition, you should link to a source that shows the fact is true.

Here are two examples:

Bad opening hook with a fact: People should get 8 hours of sleep each night. 

Good opening hook with a fact. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Nearly 2 in 5 people who have difficulty falling asleep (37%) just 2 nights a week also reported mild or greater levels of depressive symptoms.”

Make a Joke

This one is tricky, and it only works if the topic is mildly humorous. Often, it’s great to write funny captions to accompany memes on social media. But if you own a funeral home, stay away from jokes. 

Stay away from polarizing topics, like politics and religion in your jokes. Here’s one example that could work about a blog post geared toward tech wizards.

How many web developers does it take to change a lightbulb? None. It’s a hardware problem.

Did you roll your eyes? That’s not what you want people to do. That’s why humor works well in captions for memes. As an example from a gardening Instagram account, the company shows a video of a man secretly watering plants at a friend’s house, and trimming off leaves when the host’s back is turned. The caption is “This is what happens when you invite plant people over for dinner to a non-plant lover’s home.” 

how to write a hook

Tie It to the News

Again, you should steer clear of politics and other hot-button issues. 

For example, in summer wildfires often burn out of control in Canada and California. So a fire extinguisher company could start off a post with something like, “Fires are currently burning out of control in Canada. This may have gotten you thinking about what you’d do if a fire broke out in your kitchen. The answer? A home fire extinguisher is a must-have pantry item.” 

Get Help Writing Hooks for Your Blogs and Social Media

If you don’t have a lot of experience in writing, all of this might sound like a lot of pressure. Luckily, you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you need some extra help, SEO Design Chicago has the resources you need. We work with over 30 writers who are experienced in writing text for all kinds of purposes. If you’re looking for content creation services for your business, you can’t go wrong with SEO Design Chicago. We have assembled a team of the best SEO content creators. Whether you need a little bit of web content or continuous content, we’re a trusted company that will get you results. 


  • What is a hook in writing?
  • How important is the hook of a piece of text?
  • How can I meet the 1500-word length for blog posts?
  • What are some ways to hook readers?
  • How do most people read long pieces of text?

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