The other day, I wrote a post about Penguin 2.1 and the how it affected one of my niche sites. You can read the article here if you want, but it has no impact on this post. I posted a link to the article in the Niche Site Community (join if you haven’t already) on Google+, as I always do. One of the members of the community read it and took the time to comment, which is really appreciated. I wont intentionally call him out, you can read the comments to find him quite easily, but I do want to call out part of his comment.
The first thing he said in his comment was:
“big headline but very boring content.”
It got me thinking. Google has spent millions (and possibly billions) of dollars of brain power focused on one goal… creating a better search engine experience. When they generate their search results for each and every keyword, their goal is to give the user exactly what he/she is looking for. They have made it more and more difficult for thin websites to rank in the top 100, especially in the top 10.
There are countless factors in Big G’s algorithm to determine who shows up where in the SERPs. Most of which (in my opinion) have to do with links to your website. But recently there has been a huge push towards having quality content on your website. Content content content… that is all most people talk about. SEO’s will tell you that you need to write longer articles, or high quality articles. And by all means, you should! The more time on site, the more pages per visit, the lower the bounce rate, etc. the better chance you have of ranking well.
The goal is to get to #1. No doubt about it. But what if you aren’t there yet? What if you are #5. Or worse yet, #65! You and I build niche websites for one reason… TRAFFIC!! If you want to get ahead in the digital marketing space, you need to have traffic.
I know what you are thinking… Adam, we know all this! Where are you going with this post??
What most of you don’t know, and something obviously missed by the comment is…
People Can’t See Your Wonderful Content Until They Click On Your Title!!
People spend hours and sometimes days writing amazing content, then they slap together a headline for their post in 15 seconds. Worse yet, most writers will actually create the headline before they write the content, thinking they want the topic to be “keyword related”. Let’s look at that comment again: “big headline, but very boring content.” Are you kidding me? How boring would the content be if you never clicked on the headline? At least I got your eyeballs on it so you could love it or hate it.
How many times have you seen a headline/title in the search results and you just knew it was an affiliate site or adsense site? Most people scan through the titles and descriptions before clicking on a listing… so you have a 10% chance of getting that traffic (not counting the paid advertisements). Now lets step back again and look at what Google wants. Does google want people to find high quality content? Of course they do… but what if the person never clicks through to your site? They need you to click a link, or their search engine isn’t doing its job. So the first thing Google wants is a better click through ration (number of times your link is clicked on, divided by the number of times your link is shown).
Would you rather have a site with one hundred thousand visitors per month and a 75% bounce rate, or a site with 2700 visitors per month with a zero percent bounce rate? Your answer is right either way. If you want a lower traffic site that people never bounce on, you will likely create a loyal following. But most niche websites, and most websites in general for that matter aren’t built for a loyal following… they are built to get high amounts of traffic and monetize those visitors. If you want to have success in the niche site game, you need to be focused on getting to the 100k visitors per month and beyond type of site.
Bold Headlines Make Sites Look Cheesy Though
Yeah, sure they do. But they work!! Go through the checkout at a grocery store and tell me what you read. Wait, I can read your mind. You read the headlines on the Enquirer, and Us Weekly, and all those other great masterpieces of journalism. We all do! But Im sure you would never buy one… nobody does. (That’s why they have been on store shelves for 30+ years, in such an important merchandising spot near the money…because nobody buys them, haha!)
Its not just in the supermarkets either. Look at big traffic websites like Gawker or Huffington Post. The headlines are just as silly. But they grab attention!! And thus get the clicks. Here are some sample headlines from today, on Gawker:
- Family Gets Driven Out of Missouri Town After Daughter Gets Raped
- Honor Student Punished by School for Picking Up Drunk Friend from Party
- Today We Honor Columbus, An Inspiration to Cruel Half-Wits Everywhere
- Sufjan Stevens Writes Open Letter to Miley Cyrus — About Her Grammar
Ok, hopefully you come back after you click on one of those… because I know that your mouse finger was getting twitchy when you read some of those. Who wouldn’t want to know more. But the point is, rarely does anyone read an article like that and walk away thinking “that was the greatest article ever written!” Usually they just think, well that wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and then they click around somewhere else (often on ads or other articles on the site).
Your next steps are simple. Spend more time crafting your headlines. If you still don’t think its important, check out a few copyblogger articles about it: http://www.copyblogger.com/category/headlines/ If they have a category about it, its probably pretty important.
My personal suggestion to you would be to write your article/post first, then spend just as much time on your headline as you spent writing the article.
PS- Hitler being dead has absolutely nothing to do with niche sites… but as you can see, it made for a whopper of a headline in the paper and it most likely got you to click on the headline 🙂