Short headlines that can be understood out of context and containing a keyword associated with your content will bring maximum reward for user engagement and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Headlines as micro content
People scanning headlines will gain a clearer idea of the information in your content. Remember first impressions are fast.
A compelling headline is the best opportunity to grab the user's attention and get them to take action. You want to capitalise your online return for effort.
Tell people something
- they do not know
- that has benefoit for them
- that has meaning for them.
Choose words and phrases carefully
Do you provide "a one stop shop", "all the bells and whistles" or "best bang for your buck". Most likely these phrases will have a negative rather than positive impact on your users. Reading and understanding conversational and colloquial language is more difficult for the user. Regional backgrounds can assign different meanings to common words both intra and interstate. Jargon use should be an absolute minimum and no TLAs (three letter acronyms) or any acronyms without clear definition at first inclusion.
Be concise and clear
Organisations that best use of compelling headlines are newspapers. Moving from the print world to online made creative headline use even more important. The BBC www.bbc.co.uk (a TLA that you may recocognise without explanation) is an excellent example of fantastic online headline use followed by our own ABC www.abc.net.au.
"And, but, and the" are simply not needed. Think primer level and "Run Spot, run".
Keywords first mantra
Grab your user with the first word they see and give them a solid sense of why they must read your content. If you use your keyword at the beginning of the headline and within the first sentence of your content then the Search Engine logarithms should smile upon you.