April 14, 2008

Headlines – What’s In it for me? WebSite Copywriting

Posted in web notes at 12:26 pm by Jon Symons

In this segment I am sharing some of my research and ideas about writing headlines. As I went throught this process I realized that the same ideas hold true for writing an AdWords ad so I have broadened the scope of this segment to include those concepts as well.

Web headlines are often seen out of context, such as in search engine results, bookmark text, a link text or in RSS readers. Check out Google News to realized the importance of a headline that is out of context. Therefore they must be more of a complete summary of the story. The headline should be an ultra-short abstract of the full story.

  • Put important words at the begining.
  • Don’t tease to try and entice users to click [web users have been tricked too often].
  • Ask: Will the headline make sense if it is seen completely out of context?
  • Think of headlines as your stories first impression with the reader.

The Headline needs to answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”

Headlines that pull in visitors, for AdWords or search results or just page navigation [to get someone to continue reading your story] all answer that question. The best headlines appeal to the reader’s self interest or give news that the reader will value.

Here are two examples taken from the AdWords that were shown on a Google Search for the term ‘Money‘.

1. “$1000 a day from home”
2. “money at home”

Number 1 clearly answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Number 2 doesn’t make any sense. It is a classic example of a headline that doesn’t make sense out of context.

The key to writing good headlines is to understand what your reader is looking for and then answer communicate clearly how your story fills that need.

It the next installment I’ll explain the 4 functions of the headline.


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