Is that a perfect blog headline or do you have a fire cracker up your clacker?

firecrackers up clackers and other headlines

Firecrackers up clackers and other headlines (Image Carly & Art via Flickr)

The NT News has a worldwide reputation, thanks to its brazen approach to headlines.

But is there anything we can learn from the paper for our online marketing efforts?

The short answer is, it depends on your goals.

But first, congratulations to the NT News, and Deputy Editor, Paul Dyer, for claiming a Walkley Award for the paper’s unique headline style.

Paul won Australia’s top journalism award last week for these headline gems:

  • Why I Stuck A Cracker Up My Clacker
  • Eyeful Tower
  • Dogs of Phwoaarr

We know the NT News gets talked about and noticed well beyond the Top End, and most of that is due to its headlines.

So let’s see if there is something of value for bloggers or whether this whole article is a croc (my attempt and injecting some NT News success formula – reference a crocodile).

Three ways headlines help your blog

The three ways headlines can help your blog are:

  • Making articles easy for Google to reference and suggest, due to clear, topical keyword
  • Being memorable due to a unique phrase or word so that someone searching for your article specifically will more easily find it
  • Grabbing attention when the headline is seen incidentally

Headlines for SEO

The first approach is the one I focus on most with my clients.

The assumption is that people do not necessarily know you exist, or that you sell a particular product or service, so we write headlines that align with the most common questions your prospective customers will ask to help Google recommend us to them.

An example might be: Countdown to NBN going live in Darwin is on in earnest at the Duck Pond. This is about the NBN rollout in town but is also about the NBN small business workshops I am running in Winnellie through the Business Enterprise Centre for the next year or so.

From a Google perspective, this headline should help the article be suggested in search results when people look for information on when the NBN is going live in Darwin, especially if they have heard about the Duck Pond being one of the first places to go live.

Headlines for recall

The second approach is useful when you know your story will be referenced and promoted elsewhere. By using a unique or rarely-used word/phrase, it will make it easy for people to find your article through Google because you will be one of the few writers using your particular grouping of terms.

An example would be: Why I stuck a cracker up my clacker. If you had heard there was a story doing the rounds from the NT News about firecrackers and clackers, a quick Google search on the term clacker indeed brings you straight to the story.

The key to this approach is making sure you push and promote your story to people likely to push and promote it further.

Headlines to grab attention

The final approach is to write a headline which has the ability to grab attention when it is seen. Here, I refer to article titles that take you by surprise or intrigue you but do NOT necessarily contain keywords that would help Google recommend this story to someone in search, based on topic alone.

An example would be: Listen in locally to Twitter questions. This article is actually about eavesdropping in Social Media in the Top End using a free tool called Hootsuite. However, at the time it was published, I had a longer list of ‘recent articles’ on the right hand side of the site and having its headline there did entice visitors to click through. They were not searching on the topic, they were just curious after discovering the site for other reasons.

What have we learned?

So the NT News, because it has an established network for promotion and readers of its stories have already gone to the source when they discover stories (they are holding the newspaper or gone to the website), is a great exponent of the second and third approaches to headline writing.

For your small business or organisation, I suggest focussing on the first approach with an occasional experiment in the other two. This is because the first approach does the better job in helping you get discovered by people actually searching for your particular type of product or service.

Feel free to share your favourite or most powerful headlines in the comments.

Speak Your Mind