Web writing tip: Use keywords in headlines

Use keywords in headlines (often called headings). That's a basic rule of writing for the Web—and all other business writing.

Here's why.

What do readers want to know in advance, before they decide to read a web page or other business document? They want to know its topic or purpose or key message.

  • Headlines are easy to spot and to read, provided the design is logical and readable.
  • Keywords are words that identify the topic or purpose of a document.
  • People usually (never mind the stats) skim-read headlines on the Web to get a sense of the page's topic or purpose or key message.
  • Search engines give extra weight to the text in headlines.

Examples of headlines with no keywords

These headlines are generic, forgettable, and non-informative:

  • Experience, enthusiasm and results
  • What next for our team?
  • Procurement
  • Public awareness

Examples of headlines with keywords

These headlines catch the eye and answer a question in the reader's mind:

  • International marketing drive for Sunny Specs in 2013
  • Procurement for government agencies, Jamaica
  • Volunteers wanted for Turtle Time conservation programme, Ascension Island

"Use keywords" is another way of saying "Don't go blah blah blah."

Oh, and use keywords also in titles, alt-text, link-text, captions, summaries and tweets. Use them wherever communicating key information is crucial.

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


1 Comment

Alistair McAlpine
Alistair McAlpine

October 09, 2012

This is a great tip and a reminder that good writing for happy humans can also be search engine friendly.

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