Headlines – stuff them with meaningful keywords

Crocodile Toy in Darwin (A fake product for a marketing workshop)

Making the crocodile toy video

On my way back to Darwin on Sunday, I saw a newspaper headline a few seats ahead of me on the plane that read: Tell Me Why

The story also featured a large photo of a person looking straight into the camera and they were in a pained and reflective pose.

I didn’t get to read the story but I imagine the opening paragraph set the scene and drew the reader into the story.

This ‘generic’ headline worked in the newspaper because questions are powerful things to read (most of us consider answering them, at least for a split second) and the strong picture of the subject of the story was very emotive.

As good as that was, it would have been the most disastrous headline in the history of blogging if you had used it for your online marketing.

Here’s why.

The audience is already here

The thing about newspaper headlines is that the reader is already there.

You turn the page, you see the picture, read the headline and then you can wander through the story if it arouses your interest.

One thing the newspaper headline does NOT need to do is help you FIND the story amid the billions of articles available on the World Wide Web.

If it had to fulfil that role, as your business blog has to, it would take a very different approach to headline writing because the headline would not only need to be interesting and engaging, but it would also need to be discoverable.

What are you talking about?

We use blogs in our marketing mix so that we can have helpful, directive articles appear high in search results so that when prospective customers start researching for our products or services we can be found easily and guide them towards the solutions we might provide.

Our headlines read like this: New Crocodile Toy Released In Darwin (this was the fictitious headline and video we came up with in my online marketing workshop at the Business Enterprise Centre in Winnellie yesterday).

The best way to understand the difference between the two headlines is to view them through the eyes of Google, which is all likelihood will be the mediator between us and our reader.

Imagine for a moment the Tell me why story was about a victim of a crime lamenting the situation. How would I find that via Google? I would not search on the term ‘tell me why’ because that is simply an element the editor drew out for a headline, it is NOT a summary of the key elements of the story. We would most likely search on terms we had become aware of to help us get more details, for example, ‘stabbing Cullen Bay’, etc.

Our chances of finding that story would be a little slimmer because the headline, Tell me why, is NOT pulling its weight in the search stakes. And headlines are the most potent components of online stories because it enables the search engine spiders to latch onto the major themes of each piece of web content.

Contrast that newspaper article with ours. If you had heard about a toy for crocodiles and searched on Google, our story contained two of the three search words. As a side note, tonight I ran a search on ‘Crocodile Toy Darwin’ and our video and blog post publishes just a couple hours earlier was in three of the top ten positions on Google. God bless WordPress and YouTube for being such efficient tools for making material easy to find online!

So the moral of the story is that headlines for blog posts are not the place for offbeat, obscure or reflective wording, nor for clever puns, because that makes it very hard for Google to join the dots between what we are writing about and what our prospect is searching for.

If we remember that blog headlines have to be engaging AND be findable, we will increase our chances of being found and read. We can then insert offbeat, obscure or reflective content and as many puns as we wish in the body of the actual blog posts, if it helps us communicate. After all, once the headline has done its job and delivered some eyeballs, the baton gets passed to the body of the article to lead readers through the idea(s).



Saw headling: Tell Me Why – had strong picture – but audience already there. Not so online.

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