My favourite ever newspaper headline is Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious. It appeared on the sports pages of The Scottish Sun after Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Scottish football giants Celtic in a cup fixture in 2000. It’s difficult to believe, but the internet was not the integral part of our everyday lives 14 years ago and headline writers were not in the habit of thinking about SEO, focusing their attention instead on creativity with the English language.
Had the internet been what it is today in 2000, the online version of The Scottish Sun’s report could well have carried the headline Football in shock after Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Celtic 3-1 in Scottish Cup at Parkhead. Why? Because this mouthful of a title contains all the keywords that enable Google and other search engines to find it.
In fact, putting the original headline into a search bar could well have seen you directed to a YouTube clip of Mary Poppins.
Top line results
But times are changing. Just as social media is coming of age, so is search. This gives headline writers the freedom to inject a little creativity into their blog titles and come up with creative teaser headline writing that engages the reader, which has the added advantage of increasing the chances of your content being shared and raising a smile.
Here’s some inspiration that The Sun’s headmasters made earlier…
Google’s Hummingbird update also gives sub-editors (the people who are responsible for writing headlines) another chance of doing what they do best rather than stuffing their work full of keywords.
It will not, however, bring an end to benefit headlines like 10 ways to get a retweet, What lies ahead for content marketing in 2014 or What are SVG images, and why should I use them? This is because these titles both answer what we most commonly search for and tell the reader exactly what to expect from the article. In other words, benefit headlines build a level of expectation that the content of the blog meets.
Whichever you go for is up to you, just please don’t go down the third route and stick to label headlines like Soap Production Blog or Spot Welding. These titles are just not riveting.
A message for headline pedants out there…
I am aware that the Liverpool Echo used the headline Super Cally goes ballistic QPR atrocious in the late 1970s, but it is The Scottish Sun that wins my vote, gaining extra marks for recycling.