This is the kind of headline professional bloggers tell me I’m supposed to write. Provocative headings that get right up in the reader’s face and force them to pay attention.
I’ve tried it a few times myself. “What Hollywood Knows About Leadership That You Don’t” was the first of three articles I submitted to Business Insider that got front-page treatment. My last entry here, Information is for Idiots, got quite a few hits. And the most popular post ever on my old acting blog was titled I Hate Models.
Do I really hate models? No. Some of my good acting friends model. As does my niece. Is information really for idiots? Not at all. And I’m guessing more than a few readers knew a few things about leadership before I told them what was what.
But this is what they say is supposed to work. People who are really successful at this actually advocate that you pattern headlines after tabloids and magazines like Cosmo. But I’m not entirely comfortable with this style.
Which brings us to the point of the headline. A few years ago, the PR and marketing communities were shrieking with hysteria over Search Engine Optimization. Everyone was trying to catch up and figure out what the hell SEO was and how to apply it. We all devoured article after article with headlines like, “TEN REASONS YOUR BUSINESS WILL DIE RIGHT NOW IF YOU’RE NOT USING SEO!!”
I’m still behind on this. And while I don’t actually believe that SEO is for suckers, I do feel it can be taken to a ridiculous extreme. Here is a piece of spam I received:
“Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is not that great … You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword.”
Of course, making this all sound like impenetrable mumbo-jumbo was part of the pitch to get me to use his product. But still, if I ever have to worry about Latent Semantic Indexing, I will hang up my keyboard and quit writing altogether.
SEO definitely has its place, and I need to do better at it, but in the end, the content is the thing. Write stuff that people actually find interesting and they will not only find your page, they might actually read it.
And, of course, you have to do it your way. Because if it doesn’t work for you, and it’s not fun to do, it’s definitely not going to work for readers.