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 reader’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.

User Centered Design: Your Hot-Headed, Enthusiastic Web Site
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Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101


American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)