Today, you’re going to learn why some of the top media companies are using headline swapping to drive maximum reach and traffic to their content.
What’s headline swapping?
That’s the question I set out to answer after hearing about some media companies writing multiple headlines for a single piece of content. After coming across this trend, I decided that I was going to dive deeper and see what it was all about.
In this blog post, you’re going to learn how a simple approach such as headline swapping can have a direct impact on content engagement, SEO rankings and your ability to create content that gets spread on social media.
Let’s get to it…
How Slate.com Uses The Headline Swapping Technique To Drive Millions Of Visits & Thousands Of Shares
The Social Title
The goal of a social title is to inspire people scrolling through Twitter or Facebook to click on a link. Some of the most viral and effective social media titles leverage a concept called the curiosity gap. It’s the content we’ve all seen on Facebook. It’s the content made famous by the BuzzFeed, Upworthy, Viralnova, World Star & eventually embraced by everything from Slate.com to the Wall Street Journal.
As Joanne Weibe of Copyhackers described the Curiousity Gap:
It’s the space between what we know and what we want or even need to know.
In the Social Title being used by Slate, what we know is that Lady Gaga & her infamous Meat Dress. What we want to know is who the woman is behind it… And that’s what causes us to click.
The goal of an on-site title is to do one thing:
Keep you on-site.
In 2009, Jakob Neilsen pointed to the editors at BBC News as being the best at creating these titles. He described these headlines as being:
- Short (The average headline consumed a mere 5 words and 34 characters.)
- Rich in information scent (Clearly summarize what happens)
- Front loaded (The most important keywords are used)
- Understandable out of context
- Predictable (Users know whether they’ll like the article before they click)
It’s completely opposite from what we’ve seen spread around the web.
But what makes it work is that this is the title once you’re on-site. Once you’ve already been lured to read the content from social media. It’s at this point where the author shouldn’t be striving to lure you in but instead be striving to keep you engaged.
In the example from Slate, the on-site title is short, rich, front loaded, understandable and predictable. It gives you enough to glance over it and begin digesting the primary content immediately.
SEO Driven Title
This is where things get really interesting.
The actual SEO title, the one that shows in Google search, seems completely different from the social and on-site title.
Because it understands a simple principle around why people use search engines.
They’re going to a search engine to find answers.
Most people in the world aren’t searching for answers about who was behind the meat dress but a large portion of Lady Gaga’s fan base and music fans will be looking for a review of her latest album. Especially the week of launch, take a look:
This surge of interest and this title ensures that Slate can drive traffic from search.
That’s the goal of an SEO title.
Social Media Titles vs. SEO Titles
The Case For Creating Multiple Headlines
When you think about the difference between the social title above and the SEO title, think about the audience.
Who would find the social content clickable?
Who would find the SEO title clickable?
The social content is more likely to be clicked by anyone who has heard of Lady Gaga and her meat dress. It could be a Lady Gaga fan. It could be someone who is bored and just looking to procrastinate. It’s someone whose attention you were able to capture when they had an initial goal of simply scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.
On the flipside, the person who finds the title crafted for SEO is in a different state of mind. The keywords are focused around a Lady Gaga album review… The person who finds this content isn’t someone who just happened to stumble upon it mid scroll. The person who finds this content is someone who wanted to find a review of the album Joanne by Lady Gaga.
People use google to find solutions.
Sometimes it’s to find out how to tie a tie.
Sometimes it’s to learn who won Survivor.
Sometimes it’s to find out what other people think of Lady Gaga’s new album.
People using Google want solutions and an SEO title delivers that.
Crafting three titles gives you the best of both worlds. You have the ability to lure a reader in on social media and solve a problem when someone relies on search. Most blogging platforms have plugins that allow you to optimize your headlines for both social, SEO and on-site.
Take advantage of these tools and capitalize on these two benefits:
1) Search Traffic Can Drive Long Term Results
An article created with an SEO driven headline gives you the ability to rank in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPS) and drive long term organic traffic. The biggest benefit of showing up here is that organic traffic is usually the highest quality and unlike social media you don’t have always to pay to play.
2) Social Media Can Offer Immediate Traffic Through Shares
A quality blog post and a catchy headline on social media can drive thousands (maybe millions) of visits to your site within a short period of time. The life span of the average Facebook post is about 3 or 4 days and on Twitter that could be 3 or 4 hours. It’s not easy to create content on social that is sure to generate thousands of shares but a compelling headline is one of the most important factors.
Ready to use Headline Swapping for your own content marketing efforts?
Now show me in the comments that you’ve truly learned something from this. I want you to comment with an example of an SEO title, Social Title and On-Site title for a blog post that you’re thinking about writing.
I’ll let you know if it’s a good combo and if there’s anything you can do to improve it.
I look forward to hearing from you!
(This article was inspired by this post on Inbound.org)
Time is a terrible thing to waste.
Yet each and every year, companies, brain pickers and managers around the world suck time from others. A study conducted by the Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics found that executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings.
That’s a lot of time.
But what’s scary is that they found this: 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted.
But if time is so valuable – Why do we waste it?
Let me paint the picture for you:
You’re heads down working and suddenly an invite hits your calendar. It’s for a meeting that is going to be held in 1 hour and the invite suggests that it will only take up 60 minutes of your day.
But the truth is:
1) The meeting isn’t going to start on time (or end on time).
2) You’re not going to get any value from the meeting.
3) You’ll have a new task at the end of the meeting.
After a three hours of completely being focused on a major project and being close to the finish line, you’ve been summoned like a Genie. Someone has rubbed the bottle and it’s your job to appear and then grant their wishes.
It’s this experience that brings me to today’s blog post.
Before you send a meeting request, determine whether it’s truly necessary.
That “30 minute chat” could be disrupting your colleagues schedule at a time in which they’re focused on something important to them or the entire organization. Realize that just because they have empty space in their calendar doesn’t mean they’re actually free to chat. And understand that if you invite more than one person, it’s not just an hour meeting.
Let’s say you’re going to schedule a meeting that lasts one hour, and you invite ten people to attend. That’s actually a ten-hour meeting, not a one-hour meeting. You’re trading ten hours of productivity for one hour of meeting time. – Rework
But it’s only a few minutes, it’s not going to ruin their day!
The impact of a meeting request can be even more disruptive depending on whether you’re scheduling time with someone who works on a manager schedule or a maker’s schedule.
What’s the difference?
Paul Graham defines the manager’s schedule as the traditional appointment approach; the days are cut into one-hour intervals and you can block off several hours for a single task if needed, but by default, it’s broken up by the hour. An hour to do expenses, an hour to do one-on-ones, an hour to update the roadmap and an hour to handle customer support.
The maker’s schedule is a bit different.
Makers prefer to use time in units of half-a-days as they tend to be writers, coders, designers and are constraint by the reality that you can’t create something meaningful in an hour increment. For a manager, a meeting is nothing more than a an extra spoke in the wheel but for a maker, that meeting can result in throw off your entire day.
Put yourself in their shoes for a second…
Imagine you wake up knowing that you have a task that is going to take 5 hours to complete and are fired up to make it happen when you get to work. You take off your coat, grab your coffee, put in your headphones and after two hours of complete flow and productivity – you get a notification summoning you to a meeting in 40 minutes.
It would impact your morale.
It would impact the quality of your work.
And it would impact your perspective of the individual who is interrupting your flow.
Remember this before you send your next invite. Because while it might be just a meeting to you, it could be what leads your colleague to spending an extra hour or two away from their kids school play, an anniversary or even just dinner their family. Whatever it is – understand that it’s possible that you’re taking time away from them that could be spent elsewhere.
So ask yourself these three questions:
1) Would an email suffice or is a face to face meeting necessary?
Most meetings tend fall into one of these four categories: (1) Information Gathering (2) Relationship Building (3) Idea Generation and (4) Decision Making. If you’re looking to simply gather information, ask yourself if an email would do the trick or maybe read that memo sent around the office last week. The other three categories may require a meeting but often times, a decision can be made over email by simply sharing the right information clearly and in the right format.
2) Do you have a clear and specific goal for the meeting?
If you’re going to have a meeting, have an objective behind it. What are you trying to accomplish during this meeting? Are you trying to plan your growth strategy for the upcoming year? Are you trying develop a new process for internal decision making? It’s much more efficient to understand this before the meeting and ensure that everyone else is also aware of what you’re looking to accomplish. Include the specifics in the invite so it’s obvious to everyone around the table what’s going to be discussed.
3) Is this meeting for you or is this meeting for them?
Before you take the time to schedule this invite – understand who is going to benefit most from it. Are you going to be gathering information that you need to move your project forward or will you be providing insights that will help them? If the meeting is all about you, then ensure that you’re not just simply looking for validation on a thought or your next steps.
I don’t hate meetings.
I just hate when time is wasted.
Meetings can work but you have to understand the objectives behind them. Don’t rely on others in your company to value your time. You have to value it first. So the next time someone asks you to meet, don’t be afraid to ask for an agenda and a clear objective. Hold them responsible and ensure that you’re reciprocating that respect by practicing what you preach.
If you want to build a following (fast) content creation or content curation is the best marketing approach around.
The challenge for doing either one is time.
It takes time to create great content. It takes time to curate great content.
As a result, we’re seeing a world filled with marketers and content creators writing content that is mediocre at best. We’re also seeing newsletters and Twitter accounts filled with content that is being shared by everyone else.
What can you do to ensure that you’re not stuck in the trap of mediocrity?
Create & curate content that will make your audience say:
For content creation, this means creating 10x content—content that’s 10 times better than what everyone else is producing. (Check out that link if you’re interested in learning how to create 10x content.)
Right now I’m going to focus on content curation, or pushing content produced by other sources.
For “Sweet Christmas!”-worthy content curation, you’re aspiring to find content that…
- …makes your audience want to read all the way through. You don’t want them to exit halfway through an article because it’s a snorefest. You want the information to be valuable.
- …is either new or is relevant to something happening right now in the industry or the media. If you’re sharing an article from last year, it should still be relevant today.
- …is a summary of something your audience doesn’t have time to read. No one feels like they have enough time to do everything they want to do. Curating content that saves your audience time is a great way to earn a few brownie points.
- …is focused around one core topic, theme or subject. Don’t be scattered.
In this blog post, I’ll share some of the ways you can uncover this content.
Let’s get started.