Article headline matters. Not just for the obvious reasons – getting attention, shock the reader etc. – but also from search engine ranking point of view. Creating catching headlines has been the art of newspaper editors since day one, but the change from offline to online has put even more pressure on creating article headlines. In some ways it has gotten more difficult. Not only does it have to convert the reader, but it also has to help the article to rise as high as possible for wanted keywords in search rankings (of course there are other factors that effect this too).
Social media has adds some extra spices to the soup as well. A good headline gets a lot more attraction for an article and can gain a lot of shares, retweets etc. (the content obviously plays a role as well…), which can be a major traffic driver. And speaking of social media, now that we have tackled the reader and search engines, twitter adds another challenge: 160 character limit. In case the original header is longer, might be wise to think of a shortened version for twitter as well.
I started to learn the importance of an article headline, when I first started working on SEO back in Agoda days, but it was only when I started writing, I realized how difficult it actually was to create a good headline. These days I read the news or any other headlines I bump in the internet much more analytically.
One of my favorite sites to run into good headlines is Entrepreneur.com. They seem to have captured well both the reader and the SEO perspectives. Most of the headlines are titled “5 ways of [doing something / solving some problem]” or “Top 3 [something]” or the headline raises a question that the reader wants to find an answer to. If you think of it, people quite often type questions to search engines, or they want to find top x of something. Not a bad strategy to start implementing these to your article headlines.
I have been experimenting different headlines on this blog as well, and it is quite interesting to see how they work differently. Especially, what kinds of keywords bring traffic to what kind of articles with certain headlines. The questions work remarkably well. Also don’t underestimate the power of humor, like in the “20th Century Headlines – rewritten to get more clicks” below.
Hat tip to Kristan from meet4rides for the image.