Wednesday, June 6th, 2007...8:34 am
The Importance Of Good Headlines For Feed Subscribers And Search Engines
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Muhammad Saleem has written a guest post over at Copyblogger which discusses the importance of writing good headlines for both readers, search engines, and social sites.
He makes some excellent points in this article and I wanted to expand on two in particular. How headlines can affect RSS subscribers and search engines.
Contrary to what you may think, people who subscribe to your feed aren’t necessarily reading your articles. In most cases your posts will be competing with a large amount of content, some of which may be very similar to your own.
I do almost all of my reading through a feed reader and there is a habit I’ve picked up which I think is symptomatic of most feed subscribers. With so many new articles popping up in my feed reader every day I can’t possibly read all of them to completion. I tend to prioritize by title, then skim a little, and if my curiosity is peaked, the article gets my full attention.
If you want your content to stand out from the crowd the best way to do it is with a well crafted headline. You have a very limited amount of space to state the topic and intent of your article, as well as grab a readers attention, so you need to make every word count.
Personally, a witty and unique headline gets me every time.
For a comprehensive study on writing effective headlines I recommend reading Copyblogger’s series of articles on magnetic headlines.
Headlines are extremely important when it comes to search engines for two main reasons.
- Much like feed subscribers, people performing searches will also need to be enticed to read your article. Ranking for a term is all well and good but if your headline is terrible you’ll have a hard time getting them to click through.
- The title of your page is one of the most important factors in ranking for a given search term. If you don’t have your keywords in your title you are almost killing your chances of making any impact with your article as far as search rank is concerned.
It’s always best to try to get it right the first time but the good news is you can change your headline to properly target your keywords long after you’ve posted an article. I’ve done this before and have seen significant improvements in my search rank for the adjusted keywords once the page was reindexed by Google.
The lesson to be learnt here is, your headline is just as important as the content that follows, so you should take as much time as is necessary to create one which will give your content the best chance of attracting the exposure it deserves.