Writers love to write clever headlines and openers to catch the eyes and interest of the reader. That’s fine for the analogue search, but not the digital search– I mean search engines. Write your opening paragraph for the search engine, not your reader.
When we read a newspaper our mind searches for turns of phrase or descriptions that are intriguing. Search engines look for words that are related to the search words.
So if my lovely opener for a story about a woman who bravely battled cancer begins, “When Sally first confronted the beast within her, the silent, but growing thing that would eventually consume her lungs, she never blinked, and told her doctor, “I want every option, every experimental drug, I want to kill of die trying,” it may get a reader interested, but it will be passed by every search engine looking for a great story about a cancer patient.
There is time for all that human stuff later. And your reader will love it. But serve the search engine first. Find the key words that fit your topic, and get all of them in the first paragraph (and headline too) of your article.
If I go to www.keywordfinder.org or use Google’s keyword tool, I can easily find out what search words are most commonly used to find my topic.
So my first paragraph might instead be:
Sally, a cancer patient, knew cancer researchers would have experimental drugs that had not been through clinical trials, but her tumors for her lung cancer were growing fast. This is her amazing cancer story.
Boring! Yes. Search engine digital search friendly, Yes! The rest of the story can appeal to the human brain, heart and soul. But to get to that human, that analogue creature, you have to get through the gatekeeper: Google.
For a great article about search engines and getting to your readers, read “This Ugly Headline Brought to You by Google.”