Pulling People in with Attention-grabbing Headlines

By: Bob Geller, SVP Fusion PR (@rgeller)
I wrote earlier this week about the importance of being able to grab attention with concise, punchy writing (Crafting Headlines that Pop).
Whether someone is looking through their e-mail inbox, headlines in their news reader, or scouring search engine results, the only thing standing between them and your content is the headline, subject line or other descriptive words wrapped around your content.
Further, IM, text messaging, and micro-blogging technologies like Twitter mandate brevity, and have trained our eyes and minds to think in short phrases or to look for the quick and sexy.
Another challenge is that people are writing for two audiences: human and search engines. While it’s important to attract the eyeballs, digital writers need to think beyond getting attention, and selecting phrases that will populate the most SEO results. So, attention grabbing writing and sharp headlines and subject lines – that are both people and search engine friendly – are now more important than ever.
Here are a few simple tips for getting the most out of limited word count real estate:
  1. Get rid of spurious words like “announces” in press release headlines – if it is a press release, of course you are announcing!
  2. Avoid repetition. And try not to be redundant!
  3. Use the most impactful words right at the beginning (if it is a heads-up on important news, say so)
  4. Use shorter words
  5. Avoid gobbledy gook puke
  6. Read the headline out loud to make sure it flows
  7. Test headlines – use your colleagues, friends and families as mini-focus groups
  8. Where practical, do real tests – vary the subject lines of pitches to see which ones resonate
  9. Include keywords – these serve both human readers and search engines. For human readers who might not be familiar with your company, keywords provide important descriptors. They also help search engines properly index your news, and alert people to your news via the persistent searches they set up.
That’s a start to fixing titles. But there’s a lot more. You can read more on this topic at my other blog, Flacks Revenge.
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