The Power Of Headlines: The LA Times Gets It Right With Their Piece On The Inauguration

Journalists call them headlines; SEOs call them titles and headings. Whatever you call them, they’re the words that tell someone that your article is what they want to read. Look at Google News any day of the week for examples of headlines that give you absolutely no idea what the article might be about. Search engines don’t know what to rank them for; users don’t know whether to click.

Bad Headline

One trend I watch is that of searchers asking what time things start. For any event, you can be sure that searchers will take to Google to find out the start time. I chronicle this every year, for instance, with the Super Bowl. Every year, we search for the start time, and every year, the sites that should have the data either don’t have it all, or have headlines like “countdown clock” until this year when the NFL  built exactly the right page (and I was so happy!).

Yesterday, I was similarly happy when I saw this headline from the LA Times. It’s descriptive and succinct.  It may be based on what people are searching for, but it’s using that information to better understand the audience and meet reader needs.

Obama Inaguration

The article contains valuable information and not just a bunch of words in an attempt to capitalize on search traffic.

Obama Inaguration

Well done, Morgan Little.

PS – this article currently ranks on the first page of Google unpaid results and in the News onebox for the query [when is the inauguration]:

Obama News

Obama SERP

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Search & Society: General | SEO: Titles & Descriptions | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

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  • Nganguem Victor

    j’aime ça

  • Kim Kopp Krause Berg

    Yeah baby! It’s a usability persuasive design for increased conversions thing! But of course, nobody in SEO wants to listen to that crazy usability stuff :) Bravo Vanessa!

  • Copywriter Matt

    Some good information here. The more from the search query you can fit into your headline the better!

  • Amy Hagerup

    This was a breath of fresh-air. Sometimes being succinct and to the point is what is needed – even with our headlines!

  • Alex Garrido

    lol, wow, I like this one. Very clever way of capitalizing on what people actually search for in Google. I get the feeling that some reporters get so esoteric in their titles that to decipher them becomes a challenge for both people and search engines. The author of this post clearly understood what people were looking for and gave it to them.

    That is what I call search experience optimization. :D

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