Quick Tip:
Why Writing Web Headlines Is Different

If you watch an ad on TV, listen to a radio spot, open a direct-mail package, or read an ad in a magazine … essentially, it’s interrupting another task that you’re already engaged in. The advertiser is getting your attention while you’re watching a TV show, reading an article in the magazine, listening to music, and so on.

The Web is different in that respect.

Most prospects find Web pages via search engines. And that’s very significant. It means your readers have been looking for you or someone like you. They have an objective in mind. They are focused and intent on finding a particular product, service, or piece of information.

When someone first arrives at your page via a search engine, they essentially have one question: "Can I find what I’m looking for here?"As a result, your headline has to address that question. You want the first-time visitor to say, "Perfect! I can find exactly what I’m looking for right here!"

So, the primary purpose of a headline on the Web is to reassure visitors they’re in the right place.

Quick example:

In a headline for AWAI’s Ultimate Travel Writer’s program in a print promotion, I might write something like …

"How to travel the world free and watch your bank account grow at the same time."

But if writing for the Web, I might say …

"The Ultimate Travel Writer’s program – Your passport to free worldwide travel and a fast-growing bank account."

I would write the Web headline this way because I know people coming to the page through a search engine would likely have typed in a search phrase like "travel writers program."By including that phrase within the first few words of my headline, I secure that magic response: "Perfect! I can find exactly what I’m looking for right here!"

[Ed. Note: Guest columnist Nick Usborne is widely recognized as one of the most successful and in-demand copywriters for the Web. He is the author of "Net Words" (McGraw-Hill), a great book about online writing. Learn more about him and sign-up for his e-zine at www.excessvoice.com]

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: June 20, 2005

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