Article marketing headlines – the reader is secondary
September 18, 2006 • Glenn Murray
A great headline can be the difference between having your free reprint article published once (on your own website…) and having it published hundreds, if not thousands, of times all over the Internet.
Sure, the content has to be worthwhile; it has to be helpful, informative, and not just a sales spiel. And there’s no denying that a well written article can be very compelling. But if your headline doesn’t cut it, the article won’t stand a chance. The best article in the world will never see the light of day without an effective headline.
Now, more than ever, article submissions need a good headline. But it’s not just the reader you have to worry about. In fact, the reader is secondary! When it comes to article marketing headlines, your main focus should be the publisher.
You may think the requirements of a good headline haven’t changed over the years, but they have. Unlike headlines for traditional newspapers, magazines, etc., which target only the reader, article PR headlines target first the publisher, then the reader.
So how do you write a headline for an online publisher? Here’s a few tips…
1) State your domain
No matter what your business, you can be sure that potential publishers of your article are inundated with information every day. Imagine hypothetical ‘Publisher Pete’. He’s the webmaster of a high PR site. He receives hundreds of article submissions every day. Additionally, he farms article submission sites (aka ‘article banks’, ‘article submit sites’, ‘free-reprint sites’) for articles on a regular basis. Because so many of the article submissions he sees are spam or unrelated, Publisher Pete is quick to dismiss anything that isn’t obviously – and immediately – relevant to his website. So make sure your headline signals the general subject area of the article submission, not just the exact topic.
2) State your argument
Every website has an agenda. Whether it’s to sell, persuade, or inform, there’s always an angle. When our friend Publisher Pete looks for free reprint content for his website, he wants something that complements his agenda. If he’s selling chemical garden fertilizers, he doesn’t want an article about the evils of chemical fertilizer. Nor does he want an article espousing the virtues of organic fertilizer. He wants an article promoting the value of chemical garden fertilizer. If that’s what your article is about, make sure the headline lets him know.
3) Don’t make empty promises
Sensationalized headlines may work in traditional media, but they’re not so effective in article PR. Few things frustrate an online publisher more than being lured in by a promising headline which turns out to be nothing more than hot air. For publishers who take the time to carefully filter content before publishing, empty headlines are nothing more than time-wasters. For publishers who are a little less meticulous, empty headlines result in a site which is characterized by disjointed, contradictory, low-quality content. Either way, the publisher isn’t impressed, so make sure the headline of your article is relevant to (and validated by) the body of your article.
4) Put yourself in the publisher’s shoes
Always think about ways to make the publisher’s job easier. It’s as simple as that. Brainstorm 5, 10, 20 headlines, then put yourself in the publisher’s position and ask which one you’d choose. That’s the best headline for your article submission.
5) Think about your publisher’s readers
Publishers want articles that readers will open. But remember, your publisher’s website may cater to an entirely different type of reader to your website. Whenever you find yourself thinking about your secondary audience (the reader), make sure you’re thinking about the publisher’s readers – not your own. That settled, you can go on to focus on regular audience-headline considerations such as making the headline attention-getting, targeted, and benefit driven.
With the emergence of article PR as a great way to generate a high search engine ranking, and the associated proliferation of article submission spam, the right headline is more important than ever. The important thing to remember is that you’re faced with a gatekeeper, and you need to address their needs first.
By following all the publisher-focused tips above, you’ll not only see your article published many more times, you’ll also see it published on more relevant websites. This will help both your ranking (because links from relevant sites are always the best) and your click-thru traffic (because the audience will be more relevant).
TIP: For a list of approximately 250 article submission sites and article distribution lists, as well as some useful tips and templates, please visit Article PR.