Headlines, titles, excerpts
When writing online, consider: a) how people read online and b) how people search for content they want to read.
Our headlines, titles, excerpts, and so on, should be descriptive and attention-grabbing. Storytelling principles are our friends here – people are drawn to stories. Themes that are more likely to capture people’s attention include:
- Conflict: “The Tencent-Alibaba Battle Is Heating Up”
- Innovation/Breakthrough: “This Investor Figured Out What No One Else Could”
- Redemption: “Tesla’s Stock Bounces Back After Months of Market Uncertainty”
- Twists: “Alibaba Founder Jack Ma Isn’t Stepping Down After All”
Our users will also respond to:
- Actionable insights: “What Haidilao’s IPO Woes Mean for Investors”
- Strong opinions: “Why Research Pricing Is Crashing”
Keep in mind we shouldn’t slip into clickbait – it might increase engagement in the short term, but it will diminish our brand in the long term and it’s inconsistent with our values.
While SEO is an art of its own, there are things we can do to make our writing more search-friendly, just by following a few simple steps:
- Remember to include keywords relevant to your topic in your headlines and excerpts. Important: If you have to brute-force in keywords that stick out like sore thumbs, don’t. When in doubt, err on the side of clarity.
- Google Trends is a useful tool here. It can show us search terms and keywords that are in demand at any given time, so we can make the most of them.
- Google rewards good writing these days. Be clear and concise, make sure your content is on-topic, use paragraphs and subheads. Be mindful of keywords, but write naturally and try to answer specific questions (in response to Google rewarding content answers users’ questions).
- Add tags to your post but don’t overdo it. Three or four tags in a post help group multiple pieces of content together. Too many tags are neither good for SEO nor human readers.
- For any images you use, rename to make them descriptive and fill in their alt text field with a description. Include the keyword that’s pivotal to your content.
- Yes: jack-ma-alibaba-ceo-steps-down.jpg
- No: 00141420010jackma.jpg
Speaking of which…
Do refer to our Photographic Style on how to use images.
In addition to that:
- Make sure to resize images before uploading. For our blog, newsletters, and so on, a width of 750 pixels should be ideal. Do not upload larger images than that – they take up too much space and they slow down the page. Every time an image loads slowly on the internet, a reader is upset. And an angel loses her wings.
- Avoid wrapping text around images. As much as possible, try to use full-width images. The reason is that full-width images are more likely to display equally well on different types of screens (desktop, tablet, mobile).
- Remember to fill in alt text details and rename the files (see “SEO” section above).
- Do not use copyrighted images unless you can obtain explicit permission from the copyright holder. Make sure that images you are using are either in the public domain, licensed for reuse and modification under schemes like Creative Commons, or owned by Smartkarma. Resources for free and available images include: