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What makes for a good web headline?

Discussion in 'Online Journalism' started by wicked, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    And what makes for a good web tease on social media?

    I've been at this for ... a long time ... and honestly, I still feel I don't get it. I'm really not a fan of clickbaity journalism, but that's the way we are going.

    I'm the guy who's used a GPS forever and it's now busted and I have to read a map. And shit, I forgot how.
  2. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    wicked, I honestly don't know, but I do know two things that I have really grown to hate.

    First, any reference that says something like "Wait until you read THIS about what Hillary/Trump/Obama said" etc. The all caps THIS leads are just driving me nuts.

    Second, I really can't stand the "33 photos of beautiful asses" or some such nonsense. And each photo is on a separate page. FUCK THAT. I want to see all 33 NOW and SCROLL.
    fossywriter8 and wicked like this.
  3. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    I have never clicked on a clickbait headline. Screw that. I want the headline to summarize the story, or I won't open it.

    Definitely with VB on the former. I also hate the latter -- I swear I am so sick of clicking, clicking. Remember when we were told to never make any web page more than three clicks because people didn't have the patience to find it? Well, I don't have the patience. At least, however, with "33 photos of beautiful asses" at least tells me exactly what I am in for.

    It's a losing battle, though. Kjim: forever meandering down the road not taken.
    Vombatus likes this.
  4. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Link or GTFO!
    Vombatus likes this.
  5. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    However, if you truly summarize the story, I don't need to click because I got the news from the headline. So there's a fine line there.

    For example, if the headline is "Team A wins," there might be a reason to read. But if it's "Team A beats Team B," why bother? Better to say, "Highlight happened in Team A vs. Team B game" and essentially force the reader to click to get the score. But I'm also a big fan of writing anecdotal or scene-setter ledes with the score in the fourth graf.

    I agree with everybody on clickbait not doing much for an intelligent reader. Of course, those could be few and far between.
  6. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    I'm not in sports anymore, but our magazine's website is very much into "What" "Why" and "How" in our headlines.
    I'm not sure it can translate to gamers, but I think it could for more in-depth pieces (ie. "Why Team A beat Team B", etc.)
  7. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Simple: Write the headline totally opposite of how you'd write it for the print edition. Break all the rules and make it clickbait 100 percent.
  8. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    According to Deadspin, you have to use "Goddamn" a lot.
  9. studthug12

    studthug12 Active Member

    In seriousness, it depends on the subject. If it is someone overcoming a battle of cancer say it along with where they are from if the town is in your area...."Brownsville High Student inspires in face of cancer"...or something like that. Small towns seem to like their name in headlines.."Troy farmers speak on milk crisis." Don't say their name as 90 percent of circulation don't know who you are talking about unless it's a celebrity.
  10. GoogieHowser

    GoogieHowser New Member

    Honestly, I was told to work with SEO in mind. So I wouldn’t write “Bonilla cashes annual check,” i would write “Former Met Bobby Bonilla...” or I wouldn’t write “Bell making strides,” I’d write “Pirates’ Josh Bell...”
  11. ADanielPandR

    ADanielPandR Member

    If nothing else, as I'm sure almost anyone who has published on WordPress will tell you (and this is similar to Googie Howser's point), including the focus keyword is a must.

    As for social-media teases, I usually quote the lede or an eye-catching sentence from the middle of the article, whether that be the author's own words or those of an interviewee. When you can do that without spilling too much context all at once, so much the better.
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