How to Write Effective Web Headlines

You have two audiences online: readers and robots.

For readers: Headlines should be simple, literal, and direct. They must motivate readers to click.

For robots: Search engines look for keywords. If a headline contains keywords that are also repeated in the text of the article, it will show up higher in search engines.

Suggestions for writing better online headlines:

1. Be descriptive – say clearly what the story is about

2. Use keywords

3. Use conversational language

4. Avoid puns that confuse or are unclear

5. Engage readers

Go to in-class exercise below…

Try rewriting the following newspaper headlines for the web. First identify five key words. Then write a descriptive and compelling headlines using at least two of those key words. Post your headline in the comments field below. 

Example 1

Rich Man, Poor Man

KEVIN COLEMAN doesn’t need a thick, glossy report from the Pew Research Center to tell him that the wealth of black families in America has decreased sharply since the middle of the 2000s. He’s lived it.

The Philadelphia man raised five kids as a single dad after a bad marriage to a woman who struggled with drug addiction, and he even saved enough in a 15-year run as a full-time cable-TV installer to finally buy a home in Olney in 2006 – right at the peak of the housing boom.

Then came the crash of 2008, and Coleman lost his job. Within a matter of months, he’d lost the home as well – to foreclosure – and thus any equity he’d accumulated on the house.

“It’s just the way of the world,” said Coleman, who has stoically dealt with the brutal economic downturn even after he and three daughters who are still in school moved in first with his mother, then later with Coleman’s new girlfriend. “It’s the recession.”

For sure. But Coleman, 53, is also warm-blooded proof of some cold statistics regarding the traditional gap in wealth, or net worth, between African-American households and their white counterparts – numbers that startled many Americans when they were revealed earlier this summer.

The Pew Research Center found that white families in the United States now have 20 times the median wealth of black households – the greatest disparity since Pew began its surveys of net worth and race more than a quarter-century ago.

You read that right. Twenty times. Twenty. Two-zero.

In raw numbers the median net worth of white households in America, according to Pew, which relied on 2009 data from the federal government, is now $113,149.
The median wealth of African-American households? Just $5,677.

Hispanic families don’t fare much better than do blacks. Their median wealth is 1/18th that of whites.

Although the wealth gap between whites and minorities has existed ever since studies of the topic began, it did narrow dramatically over the course of the 1990s and 2000s. That was partly because of gains for African-Americans in the workplace in the booming ’90s, and then because of greater homeownership among black families.
Nearly a half-century after the civil-rights era, many blacks have made remarkable strides in the workplace and in professions like medicine or law – not to mention the White House. But the statistics show that too many minorities are still left behind in poverty or the increasing struggles of the lower middle class…

Example 2:

There’s Something In the Air

Even as it acknowledged that air quality across the country had improved over the last decade thanks to stricter regulations, a report released yesterday by Environment New Jersey was no breath of fresh air for Mercer County residents.

The greater Trenton area tied for 20th in the nation for poor air quality, a report released yesterday by the environmental advocacy group said.

The report, compiled nationally by Environment America, examines smog pollution levels in 2010 and 2011 from the nation’s network of ozone air quality monitors, as reported to the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency from the states.

The ranking is based on the number of “smog days,” or days when the ozone level exceeded 75 parts per billion over an eight-hour period.

The Trenton area had 15 such days in 2010, the study revealed, alongside the greater Cleveland region of Ohio and the Fort Worth-Arlington area of Texas.

“The source is three main things: it’s power plants, industrial facilities and cars,” said Megan Fitzpatrick, a spokeswoman for Environment New Jersey. “It’s all contributing to this buildup of smog.”…

Example 3:

Filling A Hole In Local Eateries

Chef Michael Solomonov and his partner Steve Cook were playing the part of bakers one recent morning, so were up with the sun, flour dust covering their aprons.

The pair, one of the city’s top restaurant partnerships, were mixing and weighing ingredients, tasting sugar and spice combinations, and tweaking the doughnut recipe for their latest project, Federal Donuts, set to open next month.

The doughnuts are the final hurdle in the trio of takeout offerings for their new shop. The other two items – Korean fried chicken and coffee – already have been perfected.

An odd combo? Maybe. The two chefs had been brainstorming about what was missing from the city’s food scene, and fried chicken and doughnuts kept coming up. They decided, why not put them together?

Actually, the idea falls right in line with how these two create new eateries. Decisions are based on passions and talents, rather than a five-year plan. That’s how they’ve come to own a barbecue restaurant, Percy Street, and a critically acclaimed Israeli restaurant, Zahav.

Federal Donuts would be no different. “We wanted to do something we knew we could handle,” says Cook. Translation: a creative concept that lacks the high costs and hair-pulling that opening a full-service restaurant does….

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24 Responses to How to Write Effective Web Headlines

  1. ruartistic says:

    Economic downturn affecting minorities

  2. pitmanplace says:

    Financial divide still sharp between whites and minorities in America

  3. jbracciante says:

    Median Income of Black Families 1/20th of White Families

  4. Wealth Stability Slipping Away

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wealth of Black American Families Decline.

  6. Anonymous says:

    African Americans suffer more economic loss than White Americans

  7. Anonymous says:

    America’s Minorities taking greater financial hit during recession

  8. Anonymous says:

    Blacks Suffering Most from Recession

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Racial Divide in Today’s Economy

  10. Candice Marie Martinez says:

    Black households yield 20 times less than whites

  11. Anonymous says:

    Blacks and Whites and the Worsening Economy

  12. Anonymous says:

    Trenton 20th in Nation for Poor Air Quality

  13. Anonymous says:

    Air Quality Weakens in Trenton Area

  14. Anonymous says:

    air quality worsens in Mercer County

  15. jbracciante says:

    Air quality in New Jersey remains poor

  16. ruartistic says:

    Smog in Trenton: A Growing Health Risk for You and Your family

  17. Candice Marie Martinez says:

    Trenton gets a breath of bad air

  18. Anonymous says:

    Report: Trenton Ranked Among Worst in Air Quality

  19. Anonymous says:

    Mercer County Residents are concerned about Smog

  20. Anonymous says:

    Stricter Regulations Prove Ineffective for Trenton’s Air Quality

  21. Trenton’s Not So Green Area Has A Not So Blue Sky

  22. Christopher says:

    Hello, you post interesting content on your page, you can get much more visits,
    just search in google for – augo’s tube traffic

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