There was so much hoopla over the story about print news headline writing being influenced by search engine marketing techniques that I ignored all the links to those stories. I just wasn’t inspired to read them.
Reason? Boring! Repetition! Yawn. This is not really exciting news for me, since I already know the importance of keywords in headlines. In fact, the hysteria over injecting keywords and keyphrases into headings, headlines, post titles, article titles, sub-headings, etc. etc. sometimes forces me into the opposite direction because it’s so, well, confining and limiting.
I will put in there what makes sense. I will put into article titles and blog post titles words that contain a bit of zest as it relates to the topic – not as it might relate to search results or, sheesh, page rank, popularity or gobs of traffic. (Okay, I like the traffic stuff. I’m not a complete idiot.)
When I create a headline or post title, I much prefer writing for the “scent of information”. I’m trying to emulate the thrill of beveled buttons – only with words. We know that beveled edges make people want to PUSH on the button. It’s an action that often brings back something rewarding or makes you feel productive on a web site. We can do this with words too. We can make every click rewarding.
I enjoy being creative and letting my mind roam around for words it likes, rather than what algorithms like. I like the freedom of knowing I can pick words for my readers without being forced to use up my characters on words intended for robots.
Jared Spool wrote a great piece that explores further why print headlines don’t convert well to the web. From Boring Headlines or Great Links?
“Like web pages, newspaper pages are often scanned. And like their web counterparts, newspaper headlines are intended to attract the readerâ€™s eyes to a particular story.
But, unlike the web, the rest of story is located next to the headline. (Snip.)
On the web, the headline is often doubling as a link. This is a duty it was never originally designed for.”
He goes on to explain that headlines that are effective for print don’t translate well to the web because they often lack the “scent of information” that inspires a click to read more. Inspiration just isn’t that critical when the bulk of an article is placed close by and can be scanned quickly to determine if it’s worthy of a whole read sitting.
On the web, its often the link that makes or breaks the decision to keep reading or not.
Once again, the relationship between search engines and people is very close, but I still vote for rallying the people. They have the credit cards.