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Effective website headlines #1

Effective website headlines #1

Author - Labyrinth Solutions

Are your headlines costing you money? For many website owners, the simple answer is YES!! Far too many websites have poor headlines, which unfortunately lead to lost business opportunities.

Why are Headlines so Important?

A headline is the first point of visitor engagement. On entering a website, (and each page within it) a website visitor will make snap judgements on whether to continue reading or not. The look and feel of the page will influence this for sure – hence the reason for a professional design. But, it’s content that really creates engagement, and the first part anyone sees is – the headline!

A headline’s job is to get the visitor to read that page’s content. This process needs to be repeated on each page throughout the site.

Headlines Specifically for Websites 

There's a need to construct your headlines for 2 completely separate audiences:

For Your Target Audience

Newspaper and magazine headlines tend to be dramatic as their purpose is to sell the publication. They have to stand out on the shelf amongst all the competition.

A website is different - you enter a website because you’ve made a choice to go there; directly through the URL,  because you’ve typed a search query into a search engine or you've followed a link from another site.

In all these cases, when you arrive at the site, the competition is not on display. Admittedly, they may only be a click away, but at that point, the only headline available is yours, so it doesn’t need to be as dramatic as with written publications.

However it does need to address the reason the visitor has come to the site. If they have used a search term, the headline must immediately show the visitor that the information on the page relates to what they were searching for. The same goes for someone entering from a link. So, if you are looking to buy an All Black Jersey, a headline such as ‘Buy your All Black Supporters Jersey Here!” is perfect. A headline with no mention of the All Blacks or jerseys would likely struggle.

For Google

As well as your readers, there is also a need to structure headlines for Google (and the other search engines). When someone uses Google they enter their search term. Google then tries to present those web pages that contain information directly relating to that search term. The first thing it looks at is the page title tag, (part of the meta tags). The next thing it looks at is the actual page headline as this should reflect the content on the page. If both of these have used the actual search term, then Google has a fairly good indication that this page has information about the searcher’s search term.

So, each page should be separately focused on a key search term your clients typically search for. Each page’s headline should then try to include that term, whilst ensuring it still reads well for your visitor with whom you are hoping to engage.

That wraps up the first few tips to writing effective website headlines. In the next article, we’ll talk about the different types of headlines that will work hardest for your business or organisation.

Jo Coughlan

10:25 a.m. Monday, 22 August 2011

To be honest, I'd never even considered the importance of headlines on a website, but what you say does make sense. When is part 2 of this article coming out, as I now know that I need some direction with my own headlines?

Labyrinth Solutions

11:51 a.m. Friday, 26 August 2011

Hi Jo,

Part 2 of this article is coming out very shortly - watch this space!!

cass toyne,

2:52 p.m. Tuesday, 30 August 2011

look forward to part 2 also

Labyrinth Solutions

11:51 a.m. Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ron, Thanks for your comment - glad to see that we've opened your eyes on another reason for having well structured headlines.

Regarding your question - I think headlines should be kept quite snappy, but they don't have to be overly short. A good question style headline might well be 10 or 12 words long and still be very effective. Does that help?

Have a look at the 2nd article on headlines, that will give you some realistic examples to look at.

Ron Holt,

2:51 p.m. Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I've been tokld in the past about how Google reads headlines as part of its process to present search results, but I'd not considered the importance of headlines to draw someone in. I think what you say here does make sense. Do you recommend keeping headlines short, or don't you think this matters?

mike

2:52 p.m. Sunday, 18 September 2011

Heard this blog advertised on the radio. Clever, I'm not in the market yet for a new site but I am interested in what you talk about in your blogs. Who knows - when we do need a new site?

Labyrinth Solutions

11:51 a.m. Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hi Mike

We'd love to hear from you when you do want to do something with your site. We'd be happy to take a look at it and give you a few ideas in the meantime if you are keen? You can email me separately for that on enquiry@labyrinth.co.nz

Don't forget - take a look at the Blog articles covering other areas, such as SEO and social media too.

 

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