SEO trends come and go in waves and right now we’re on the crest of the ‘killer content’ wave. Of course this isn’t new; I recall talking to people about the importance of content in advertising over 30 years ago and how this translated to websites over 15 years ago.
The difference is that today everyone is shouting loud in a very crowded market place and this is starting to manifest itself in some rather ridiculous attention seeking (and grabbing) headlines.
There are increasing numbers of ‘how to’ guides out there which show you how to dominate for a keyword by creating ‘killer’ content and promoting it mercilessly and they all pretty much start with ‘include a killer headline’.
This trend has even spread to the supposedly more conservative media such as the online versions of the UK broadsheets. As I write this the Telegraph has on its home page the following headlines;
“What no one tells you about Airbnb”
“Why this topless picture of Justin Bieber makes you want to spend more”
“What I hate about holidays”
“Warning: Your fridge is full of danger”
“Nine things you need to watch out for in the budget”
Now some of these may indeed be worthy pieces of journalism but I’ll never know as the headlines simply leave me cold. I won’t click on them and I won’t read them as far too often in the past this has left me disappointed. In fact reading the comments below many of these stories is more fun as regulars lambast the lazy journalism, the reworking of old stories to fill space and the lack of simple fact checking.
Sadly however this phenomenon is not confined to the broadsheets, in fact it has seeped into their vocabulary as if by osmosis from the sheer volume of this stuff available online. Pretty much any search in any competitive sector will turn up examples of these sorts of grabber headlines.
Now you might be forgiven in thinking I have a problem with grabber headlines, but actually I don’t. The problem I have is with the lack of or poor quality content that appears beneath.
From the online papers with rehashed news to digital wannabes compiling ‘awesome’ and ‘actionable’ lists from other peoples material they are adding nothing to the canon of human knowledge.
People who are writing this sort of material should be forced to read David Ogilvy’s ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’ before they type a single word. Whilst over 30 years old now the basics of creating great content are there for all to see and they are as relevant today as they were back in 1983.
So if you want to use grabber headlines, short sentences, exclamation marks, bulleted lists and calls to action every twenty words then go ahead, feel free. But please make sure that those of us who have to read it can walk away with something of value.