If a headline has grabbed your attention and lured you to read some more, then it has served its purpose.
A headline is the very first thing that a reader sees when scanning over voluminous written pieces all over the online world. In the same way that landing pages give us that first impression, a truly effective and powerful headline is the crowning glory. It embodies, in such a capsulated form, all there is to know about the article you are about to read. Making the perfect mix of words in such limited characters, which is usually no more than 50 characters, is a true challenge for all of us doing copywriting.
An underlying question in writing attention-getting headlines, though, is: Should headlines be keyword-optimized for search engines like Google?
This is one of the many interesting questions that noted copywriter Ben Settle answered in the Million Dollar Copywriting Secrets Course. Let this article be a forum for my reaction and comments.
What's in a keyword?
Just like Ben Settle, I am really not into keyword optimization per se, more so for headlines. The mere act of optimizing keywords is simply to cater to the whims and caprices of search engines, especially Google. Well, we all know that search engines are all about keywords. If you don't happen to have the proper and relevant keywords, search engines aren't likely to find you. This is a harsh reality in the Google era but who's to say that it's the summumbonum?
I do think, however, that it's still fair to say that keywords still play an important part in making our headlines be "seen.But extra care should be taken in placing it in the proper outlook without really making the headline so full with the intended keywords that obviously makes it a fodder for search engine crawlers! And this is truly the gem of an advice from Ben Settle that we should take heart when writing attention-getting headlines: first and foremost, we should write for our readers using our natural language and not just write for Google.
For Whom the Keywords Toll
Sad but true, but most headlines or even articles are just laden with the right keywords or is keyword-rich solely for search engine optimization efforts. Sometimes, content and substance takes a backseat for this. Seriously, this is not an ideal thing to do because you lose sight of your reason for existence: that is, your flair for writing and the process of communicating something of value to your readers.
The next time you write attention-getting headlines for your articles, think about this: to whom are you writing it for?