Bill’s post earlier this week celebrated all that we love about magazines and their punny, punny headlines. But you’ll notice here (“How to Write Headlines for the Web”) we’re playing it straight. And there’s good reason for that.
When you’re titling articles, posts and features online, your headline has to do a lot more than look pretty and act clever. Since headlines may show up as links, and often help with search engine results, they have to cut to the chase: Just tell us what the page is about.
We have recently been admiring Newsweek.com for its effective blending of Web and print headline styles. When you see a link on the home page of Newsweek, they’re giving you a perfect Web headline — all the keywords you could hope for. Today, for instance, I clicked on “Scientists Prove That Younger Siblings Get Less Discipline.” No question what that’s about. (And both my younger sisters and my elder child would agree that it’s true, at first glance.)
But when the article comes up — look! a headline that Bill and other print writers would be pleased with: “Getting Away With It.”
Newsweek doesn’t discard the Web-savvy words that got me to click, though — they turn into part of the title tag for the page, making double use of those valuable keywords. And man, does it work.
This Newsweek article — posted just 17 hours ago — is already the No. 1 result on Google for the search words younger siblings discipline. Even more impressive, it’s already on the front page of results for younger siblings. Certainly these effective headlines aren’t the only reason Newsweek is ranking so well on Google, but they are making a difference.
You can quibble about the right keywords to put in a particular headline, but Newsweek is proving every day that your Web headlines need to be keyword-rich and short on the clever stick. Here’s to clarity in online headline writing!