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Clever Headlines Don't Pay In A Web-centric World

Snow Storms Big Apple
This image is from a recent Globe And Mail article entitled (as you can see) “Snow Storms The Big Apple”:
Now I’ll admit that this is damn clever copywriting. But as a headline for web-based content this just doesn’t fly.

Well, if you read this out of context (just the headline and a link in any e-mail, search results, or a feed for example) it is _really_ hard to pick up that it is an article about Canadian artist Michael Snow’s new “Museum of Modern Art” one-man show in New York City. So lots of people who might find this interesting will skip over it.
Worse still, the headline might confuse search spiders (although the body of the article certainly has lots of relevant keywords that people might search on). And I guess there is a chance that people searching on snow storms might also end up getting this article when it really isn’t a good result for them.
Take a word of advice and go study what “Nick Usborne”: preaches about online copywriting. And leave the clever puns for those poor folks stuck in print.

One Comment

  1. Barry Welford
    Barry Welford October 7, 2005

    Of course the headline writers, who are not usally the copywriters, learned their craft in a non-digital world, where you were trying to catch a human eye as it scanned the page. Now you’ve got to catch the attention of a digital spider and as you say that’s completely different.
    It’s almost worth treating the search engine like a spell-checker. Try your proposed headline first in quotes and then without quotes in Google searches. You’ll quickly get an appreciation of who is the competition for the headline. As usual it’s always good to know your competition. You’ll either feel great or know you have to go back to the drawing-board.

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