By Lynn Walsh, RTDNA Contributor
It’s probably one of the last things you write, but headlines are and always have been an important part of the writing process.
Writing funny and ironic headlines were all the rage for reporters in the old days (think 1990s, pre-web explosion). Headlines would be written as a play on words with the focus being more on being creative and witty than telling the reader what the story was about.
But the internet and Google have changed that. Think about how you use the internet and search online.
You are solution hunting; going to a place to get something done. You are looking for coverage that is comprehensive but specific. And most of us are scanners. It is estimated we read, on average, about 25 percent of the words on a website. We are looking for brevity and so are our readers.
So with search engines, we need to be thinking about optimizing our stories, especially our headlines for the search engines. You have to think, SEO (search engine optimization) writing or “Google” writing.
Give it to the reader straight. Be descriptive and not cute and clever; with the web, it’s not a tease.
The web is different:
If someone is looking for a story about a famous person who has died; if you do not have that person's name in the headline, people will most likely not find your story from your headline but will get the information elsewhere in another story.
Luckily people have been paying close attention to what gets readers to click on stories. And while not every headline lends itself to certain tricks or tips, there are some proven ways to write better headlines for the web.
When writing headlines use:
As with a lot of things in life, some tried and true practices of headline writing still stay true, whether you are writing for the web or the more traditional mediums.
Always remember to:
Do you have some headline writing secrets? Let us know in the comments below.
Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning journalist currently producing stories for the E.W. Scripps National Digital Desk. She loves holding the powerful accountable and spends more time than she would like fighting for access to public information. Follow her on Twitter, ,on Tumblr