Posts Tagged ‘headlines’

Headline inspiration from the BBC

May 7, 2009

Jakob Nielsen’s April 27 Alertbox article focused on the great job the web team at the BBC does on their web heds, which follow Nielsen’s maxims that heds should be short, information-rich, front-loaded with keywords, understandable out of context and predictable.

Some examples he uses are:
• Italy buries first quake victims
• Romania blamed over Moldova riots
• Ten arrested in UK anti-terrorism raids

What do you think? Would you click? And how can you make your web heds better?

Related:
The 3 secrets to writing effective web heds
SEO: More on creating great titles

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What SEO means for you and your audience

December 10, 2008

There’s a very good article in the current issue of the British Journalism Review called “How SEO is changing journalism” (thanks to @doshdosh on Twitter via @wingszetang). In it, Shane Richmond, communities editor at Telegraph.co.uk, explains what SEO really is (and isn’t – i.e., some sort of voodoo marketing deception) and what it means for journalism online. Some key points:

On writing for computers vs. writing for people:

We are writing to be read and these days that increasingly means ensuring that our stories are found by search engines. Readership patterns are changing. Online news may seem similar to its offline equivalent – it is after all just words, pictures and moving images – but it is fundamentally different.

On where your online audience comes from:

Now, audiences can form at article level, driven by news aggregators such as Techmeme, social bookmarking sites such as Delicious, and news sites, such as Digg, that are “edited” by their users. There are still audiences, and large ones, that are loyal to a single title, but every publisher is seeing more and more people arrive at their websites via search engines, and the potential to use this trend to increase audiences is huge. Ideally, many of these surfers will see that your site comes high in the search results time and again and will become regular readers.

On web-friendly heds:

Unfortunately though, and there’s no gentle way to put this, the witty, punning headline is finished when it comes to the internet. The greatest headlines of the web era will be the most functional ones and they’re unlikely to be remembered by anybody at all even a month after publication, let alone years later.

The 3 secrets to writing effective web heds

September 15, 2008

It’s important to remember – especially when repurposing print content – that print heds and web heds (and deks, for that matter) have very different functions and should really not be thought of as the same thing, despite their sharing a name.

Print heds work in context. You see them on a page next to deks, pull quotes, copy and art. They are designed to draw the reader in, but the reader isn’t dependent on them.

Web heds, on the other hand, very often function on their own – they could very well be the only thing your reader sees before deciding whether to click and read the whole piece. They’re also weighted heavily by search engines – and appear in search listings – which gives them extra depth as compared to print heds. In fact, I often compare web heds to print cover lines rather than to heds proper.

Here are some things to keep in mind when (re)writing heds for web:

• Make it understandable. Will the reader know what the article’s about?
• Use keywords. Make the subject matter obvious to a computer (i.e., to search engines).
• Make it clickable. Think, would I click on this if I knew nothing else about the article? Does it entice me?

Unfortunately, these three “secrets” can make web heds less…artistic than print. It can be challenging to produce well-written heds that incorporate keywords and are clear and explanatory – especially when the same keywords are repeated in the dek (which will help your SEO rankings, too). But it’s worth it in exchange for the increased exposure you’ll be giving your content.

For more, check out this collection of tips on writing “magnetic headlines” from Copyblogger.