Every so often, we at Industry Forge take interest in news stories with technical subjects. This one in particular helped us remember how important it is to double check calculation functions before deploying new code into production. Yikes! $23 quadrillion is a lot of money! The poor developer at Visa must have been sweating bullets (I hope his boss gives him a break considering there was no real financial impact on any customers).
Archive for July, 2009
Here is a brief synopsis of how this article explains how you can create user friendly and search (SEO) friendly headlines:
- Make it simple for users by forming clear and descriptive headlines.
- Don’t try to be too tricky or clever (unless your goal is to entertain).
- Break up the page with subheads for easy ingestion and scannability.
- Make it brief and to-the-point.
- Include keywords in a natural way.
Page titles and headlines are a very important part of your page both for your visitors and for search engine spiders. If you are able to create headlines using natural language with keywords that your visitors have used in their search query, you are more likely to capture the attention of those visitors and have a higher conversion rate (i.e. those visitors are more likely to turn into real customers). Here are a couple of tips for creating good headlines. Remember, these are just guidelines; some site designs and layouts may work better with other approaches, but this will at least give you some thoughtful insight as you consider writing your next headline.
Focus on the Headline
First, a headline is the very first thing a user is going to look at when they get to your page. Don’t let your designer tell you that some other page element needs to get the focus. 90% of the time, it’s going to be the headline that should rightly receive the attention. Users will quickly glance at a page headline to confirm their question, “does this page have what I’m looking for?” If they can quickly determine that the page is the right one for them, they will continue to scan the page.
Make Your Page Scannable With Subheads
Notice how I italicized the word “scan” above. This is very important: your visitors are not going to read your site like they would a newspaper until they absolutely have to. They will pick the page apart, quickly ingesting its parts in an F-shaped pattern, starting at the top left and moving on down. Break up paragraphs with subheads (h2 or other HTML heading tag) to let your users know what to expect. If they just see a huge block of text, they will almost undoubtedly skip it. Hint: if you want users to read, consider smaller text—it encourages users to read instead of scan. But use small text sparingly, only in instances where you’d like the user to read content like they would a book or newspaper.
Be Concise and Clear
The fact that visitors are going to quickly scan a page makes it paramount that you create a headline that is concise, to-the-point, and does little more than quickly tell the user what the page is about. Now, here’s where the search friendly stuff comes in. The great thing about search strings is that they are typically very concise. In fact most search queries are not complete sentences. The “search for keywords” behavioral paradigm has been well established in internet users.
What you want to do is include keywords in your headline that users have likely used in their search. If your headline has natural language that happens to also have the keywords that the user searched for, they will likely identify your page quickly as a resource that they want to investigate. As you can see in the headline of this article, I’ve incorporated the keywords “SEO Friendly Headlines” into a natural language headline that the reader can quickly identify with and immediately know what to expect.
Don’t try to be too clever in your headlines unless your goal is to entertain. Visitors looking for entertainment want to see something that makes them laugh, or think, or be otherwise entertained. Visitors looking for information want to know quickly what it’s all about without the fluff.
Short story: keep your user in mind; make it simple for them by being clear and descriptive. Don’t try to be too tricky or clever (unless your goal is to entertain—in which case you have a lot of leeway). Break up the page with subheads for easy ingestion and scannability. Make it brief and to-the-point. Include keywords in a natural way so communication is clear and un-muddled.
Check out the geeky timestamp on this post! This only happens once…unless we implement a new system of reckoning time. If you can’t see the timestamp for some reason, it is 12:34:56 07-08-09. I know, not the most essential piece of information you’ve ever come across, but fun none the less.