Distribution: The Next Challenge for Sony’s E-Book Device
The Little Book That Beats the Market, by Joel Greenblatt

Cut the Cutesy Headlines

Here’s a post from Clive Thompson that every blogger, author, newspaper reporter, etc., should read. He talks about the importance of writing simple headlines, avoiding double-meanings and with a focus on keywords. Sounds straightforward, right? As I scanned through my list of recent posts I think I’ve done OK, but then I see one like “Running Out of Time?” and I see I’m guilty as charged. As I think about it, when I’m scanning my various RSS feeds in Bloglines, I tend to skip right past those double-meaning headlines, just like Clive describes in his post.

It doesn’t stop with blog headlines, though. There’s a related point to keep in mind when titling a book. Although you don’t see too many cutesy book titles these days, inclusion of the best keywords in the title and sub-title are crucial when considering search results on Amazon, bn.com, etc. Do a bit of research before you settle on a final title/sub-title. Search (by relevance) each of the key online booksellers and see which titles tend to float to the top. If you feel you’ve got the most important keywords in the title, is there an opportunity to add other important keywords/phrases to the subtitle? Making the right choice here could mean the difference between being listed on the first page of the results or being buried somewhere deeper.

Comments

Yvonne DiVita

Let me see if I have this right - no unique, Purple Cow kind of titles? No - Naked Conversations or Dickless Marketing? Personally, I find us (people in general) too centered on this idea of using keywords to make sure you're found. It's important to use words your market will search for but Amazon is just one avenue of marketing - I have had enormous success with my blog, Lip-sticking, which is not a word anyone would search on to find my book, although it is the title of Chapter 2. People need to understand that book marketing involves a whole lot more than a focus on keywords in your title or sub-title. A catchy title is memorable...and can create word-of-mouth. I say, be unique and original. Let the uninspired be boring. To Cory's post - I say hogwash. If someone is subscribing to your blog via an RSS reader, he or she ALREADY knows what you're all about. Your catchy, fun title may be just the boost he or she needs to click in to your blog. AND... there are just as many blogs that display the ENTIRE post in the RSS feed, as just the headline. Oh please...give people some credit for intelligence. The reality is that it's just as easy to create catchy, fun titles that work, as it is to rely on the boring and mundane.

Joe Wikert

Yvonne, in all fairness and with all due respect, I never would have found your Lip-sticking blog if you didn't reference it in your comment above. I realize I'm not necessarily your target audience, but still, you cover some publishing topics and I never would have thought to click on a search results page with "Lip-sticking" as the website title.

Funny you should mention Naked Conversations. That book was published by our team here at Wiley and you're right, it's a very catchy title. Without a subtitle that title might not be terribly meaningful to a large portion of our target audience. Hence the subtitle: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk to Customers. Without compromising the catchy title, we effectively solved two problems with the subtitle: (1) added meaning to the title itself and (2) included certain keywords (e.g., blog) which help us on search results placement.

I don't think it's wise to ignore the importance of keywords these days, especially with the high percentage of prospective customers who are likely to discover you through an Amazon search, a Google search, etc. There's still some room to be clever, of course, but not at the expense of being found; otherwise, you may wind up with the catchiest phrase/headline that nobody's ever read.

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