The Point to Point blog has an excellent article about how witty headlines and SEO can go hand-in-hand. Dominic Litten explains how many news sites have the ability to put the SEO-friendly headline in a separate field to the witty headline.
For many journalists, SEO = headline + keyword stuffing. It’s all they know. However, if journalists really want to know and understand how SEO can help them and their publications they should worry a lot less about the importance of headlines and focus on their company’s sitemaps, site architecture, endless duplicate content, internal linking and the like.
Litten goes on to say:
We get the love for your headlines, we’re just over it. SEO didn’t kill the cute headline, the click did. The sheer volume of content, growing exponentially and shared on social media, rendered the witty and non-descriptive headline useless. We consume media so radically differently than we once did, so why are some journalists clinging to out-dated best practices?
“It’s hard enough to write for the web and meet the guidelines for concise, scannable, and objective content. It’s even harder to write web headlines,” writes Jakob Nielsen, the useability expert.
“(…)For several years, I’ve been very impressed with BBC News headlines, both on the main BBC homepage and on its dedicated news page. Most sites routinely violate headline guidelines, but BBC editors consistently do an awesome job,” he continues.
Newmediabytes has some good pointers for those journalists and subs looking to get their online headlines perfectly attuned for the search engines to home in on.
Main points (click through for detailed definitions)
– Be clear and concise
– Plan headlines for searchers
– Include appropriate keywords and keyword phrases
– Include FULL NAMES of people and places where applicable
– Include DATELINES
– Keep headlines under 65 characters
The site also has a video of DetNews.com web editor Leslie Rotan talking about some things to remember when writing headlines for the web.