The first thing I learned in Journalism 101 is that the headline is the most important part of any story. Why? Because, like a great proverb, we only have a few words to get our message across. And if we fail, readers won't read our story....
In today's world, where many businesses live or die based upon their online presence (and this includes newspapers), we need to return to the basics of good headline writing, with a new twist --being aware of how search engines work. Using nouns and verbs that tell readers why they might be interested in what we have to say is still a rule to follow, but there is more to it in today's web world.
Last Friday, CNET News ran a story that those of us creating audience messages should read. Entitled Newspapers search for Web headline magic, the article focuses on newspaper headline writing but it applies to everyone who wants their articles, books, marketing and sales messages, web site content and blog posts read.
I urge you to read the article, but here are a few highlights:
1. Witty and provocative headlines are often useless and even counterproductive in getting the Web page ranked high in search engines.
2. Think about what the story is about and be as clear as possible.
3. Create a more literal Web headline.
4. Be more direct.
5. Make the headline stand out.
Take the first step (it's free).
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