Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 7, 2008 4:17 PM

Google Is Doing WHAT?

That was the title of the first article featured in Computerworld Magazine's email blast I got this morning (yes, in a RSS world I still subscribe to several e-newsletters). I immediately clicked on the link that led to a very interesting article that talked about the many other initiatives (beyond search) that Google is involved with.

Here's how the article, Google Is Doing WHAT?, started:

"With a skyrocketing stock price, fanboy hysteria and - most importantly - really useful products, Google Inc. is the prima donna of tech for the new millennium.

The company is so active that it's hard to keep track of everything it does. And, just when you get a good handle on its litany of Web applications, promising lab innovations and unheralded research projects, it seems to turn on a dime - a difficult move for a $167 billion company with 19,000 employees - and invent something new. Who would have thought a search site company would get involved in laying a fiber-optic undersea cable between the U.S. and Japan?"

... and the article goes on.

Did you notice what I noticed?

Compared to the headline of the story, the article is pretty sedate and laid-back. As much as we would like to think that we've all evolved and aren't susceptible to grandiose statements, it's the headline that grabbed me and sucked me in (big time).

It's an important lesson to state (and restate) - whether you're writing your own Blog, testing email subject lines or writing copy for your website: headlines count. They count big. I can't recall the last time I clicked on any articles in this email, but that one really grabbed me.

Here's the challenge: while the article was great, it was not as great as the headline. This is the problem that most gossip tabloids fall into - you should not. Be bold and brave with you headlines, but keep that voice and killer content streaming through the whole piece.

Be honest, didn't the Blog title on this post suck you in too?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Zac Martin
    Mitch Joel

    Whilst I read everything of yours that comes through your RSS Feed, this post made me want the page to load faster.

    If I am only an average writer and write only average blog posts, are you suggesting I should stay away from killer headlines?

    Reply
  • it's not about being "average". As we know, average doesn't work anymore. All I am saying is be consistent and be brave... try stuff out and keep your energy high.

    Reply
  • Posted by CT Moore
    Mitch Joel

    Yeah, the post title completely pulled me in... But this is a principle that newspapers have been struggling with. While eye-catching headlines are great for, well, catching eyes, they suck for SEO.

    What savvy newspapers do to compromise, then, is to go with an aye-catching headline on the index page and something more SEOd/descriptive on the actual article page. This way the link on the index page that's only there for a day or so draws clicks, but the content page has a title that search engine will index appropriately.

    It's too bad that no one has hacked wordpress or the opensource moveabletype to generate double post titles (as far as I know). I know you can get SEO plugins for WP that generate a separate page title, but you still lose out on having an SEOd H2 tag. If you think about it, having title and H2 tags that are SEOd for related but different keyword sets would be awesome.

    Reply
  • Posted by Lynn Crymble
    Mitch Joel

    I did get sucked in by the headline too. But I know your blog and your reputation so even though the content in your post was actually not as exciting as the headline, I am not disappointed. You got me thinking and I appreciate that.
    If the headline had been Google's Multiple Personalities - it might get fewer clicks/opens but you would feel like you got what you expected. And in the end, that is better than disappointing your readers.

    Reply
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