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The Importance of Good Headlines for RSS

Poynter Online has a great post about the importance of having a good headline in your RSS feed.

‘But what do I do with headlines like “Dramatic change” (which turned out to be about a change in the government’s attitude toward immigrants) or “An unfinished story” (this deals with the U.S. inauguration). And these are just a couple of random picks from a Norwegian feed I read last night. Both those headlines belong in a newspaper or on a website, where there is room for a picture and a blurb. They have no place in my RSS reader. Or in my mobile phone’s WAP reader. Because I can’t even make up my mind if I’m interested.

With RSS and WAP, more and more journalism relies on headlines alone. So they better be good. And they better be informative.’

This is so true. I’ve actually done some tracking of the most popular posts on this site for those reading my RSS feeds and have noticed that it is usually the simple, clear and informatively titled posts that get the most hits. Yes occasionally I’ll get a little clever, humorous and cryptic and come up with a title that tries to be intriguing, witty or mysterious – but more often than not the simple ones do much better.

Of course I show the first few sentences in my RSS feeds also (not that everyone chooses to view them) so your opening line is also vitally important to getting people to read on.

I’ve touched on this topic previously in a number of posts includeing:

- Titles are Everything

- Get to the Point

- Blogging for Change – Rejection to Attention

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. … Of course I show the first few sentences in my RSS feeds also (not that everyone chooses to view them) so your opening line is also vitally important to getting people to read on …

    I don’t think you should.

    If I choose to read content based on the headline
    I do NOT want to read a summary or a few sentences (description tag). A summary is only needed for long articles, a “read more” is one click too many: I have already CHOSEN to read the article
    (please do not put up a description as well).

    I would go as far as saying that descriptions should be banned (except for long articles (>1000 words) or for multimedia posts).

    Found this article through google: your piece comes up first if you search on “good headlines rss”, my comes up fourth (case in point, good headlines give a good google rating).