Writing Effective Headlines for Web and Mobile Devices

You have two audiences online: readers and search engines.

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

For search engines: 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

Give it a try…

Example 1: Ready, Willing & Papal?

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THERE’S a very good chance that the next pope will hail from Africa.

But there’s an even better chance that he’ll be the first pope to use an iPhone.

The stunning news Monday that 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pontiff in nearly six centuries to resign gives the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church another crack at what it passed up on in 2005:

The opportunity to elect a pope who truly reflects the complexities of the 21st century.

“For the first time, the pope will be used to having a computer on his desk and a smartphone in his pocket,” enthused Rocco Palmo, the Philadelphian who chronicles Vatican affairs on his popular blog Whispers in the Loggia.

But other church-watchers are more focused on demographics than computer graphics. They wonder whether the cardinals who will gather in the Vatican’s storied Sistine Chapel next month will end the tradition of electing European popes by finally choosing a leader from the church’s growth regions of Africa or Latin America.

Fewer than five years after the U.S. elected a black president, the Vatican could see its first pope of color – possibly 64-year-old Peter Turkson, of Ghana, a charismatic figure with a weekly TV show, who speaks at least six languages….

Example 2: A Philly kid struttin his stuff to boost Dell

He’s the son of a Mummer, a Northeast Philly kid who made it big in high-tech management. Stephen J. Felice’s career parallels the rapid innovations that have built, wrecked and reinvented some of America’s biggest businesses since the 1980s while changing the way we talk to one another.

A veteran of the Philadelphia-based Bell Atlantic Corp. enterprise group that created Verizon, Felice is now the $10 million-a-year president and chief commercial officer of Dell Inc., which is struggling to remake itself from a big-but-aging computer supplier into a “global IT solutions provider.” To speed the change, founder Michael Dell announced a proposed $24 billion buyout of the Austin-based company last week, partly financed by Microsoft.

Felice, intense and boyish at 55, has come a long way from the rowhouse on Glenview Street in Philadelphia’s Mayfair section where he grew up, attending St. Matthew’s School, rooting for the Wilt Chamberlain-Chet Walker 76ers and the Flyers, and braving New Year’s crowds to watch his musician father march with the Hegeman String Band.

His dad’s day job with Hammond USA, the organ maker, took the family to Chicago for Felice’s high school years. He earned his business degree from the University of Iowa in 1979, then worked a couple years at Shell Oil in Houston.

But Felice, married to his college sweetheart, Katie, came back to Philadelphia in 1984. Raymond Smith, boss of Bell Atlantic, created by the government-ordered breakup of the phone monopoly AT&T, was setting up a group to move into mobile communications and information technology, and manager James H. Dickerson Jr. put Felice to work running the numbers on bright-idea takeover candidates.

“We started Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, which is now Verizon, and Sorbus, the computer-services company that became DecisionOne,” Felice recalled earlier this month, during a break in a program for young entrepreneurs he was helping to run at the Comcast Center.

Example 3: Hometown thrilled for Grammy winner

Jack Antonoff took his moment at the mike to thank family. When fun. won a Grammy for song of the year Sunday night, the group’s guitarist and Bergen County native thanked the family members — in a long list of names — who supported him and his band mates through more than a decade of touring.

From left, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff, of the musical group fun., accept the award for song of the year for 'We Are Young' at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
From left, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff, of the musical group fun., accept the award for song of the year for ‘We Are Young’ at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles.

There was not a lot of money made in those years, Antonoff said. Those days are over.

Antonoff is one third of music’s best new artists (according to the Grammys voters, at least) and one-half of a serious pop-culture power couple. He is an activist for equal rights and he is a Jersey boy, born and raised and technically still in residence.

Antonoff, who turns 29 in March, still lives with his parents, Rick and Shira, in Woodcliff Lake. Although with the band’s success and touring — not to mention his girlfriend, “Girls” creator and star and famous Brooklyn resident Lena Dunham — he presumably isn’t “home” very often.

On Monday, a woman who answered the door at the Antonoffs’ house said the family wasn’t home, but neighbors who know them were excited by the boy-next-door’s success.

Debbie Zucker, who said she occasionally walks in the morning with Shira Antonoff, watched the Grammys broadcast on Sunday night just to see Jack.

“He’s a nice kid from a nice family,” Zucker said Monday…

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