Headline Writing 101

The single most important element of an online story is the headline. No matter how much time you spent writing the perfect article or taking the award winning photos, the headline still takes the cake.
Headlines are often the only element of your story that users see to make a decision to read your work of art or not.
Headlines also are one of the most important elements of a website to rank in google and other search engines. The Headlines are used for page titles on the website and these elements are read by google and help position your article in the millions of other articles google indexes each day. Google sends an extraordinary amount of traffic to each of our websites each day and writing proper headlines can greatly increase this traffic explosion.
So what makes a good headline? It's simple, if you were looking for this article on google and all you had to go on is the headline, what keywords would you use to search for it? You would use common words that describe what the article would be about. For example, we recently had a story written about a fire located at our local mall. Our staff had written an excellent story about it, but wrote a very poor headline. The headline was fine for print, in fact, it followed the AP style book perfectly, but when users were looking for an article on the fire, they couldn't find what they were looking for. The staff used the words "Mall Ablaze" as the all so important headline. When was the last time you searched google or on your own website for the word ablaze? I suggested we re-write the headline to include "Roseville Galleria Fire" and the story exploded. We started ranking 1st page of google results and achieved an all-time high for traffic in one day to a story. We received 2,000 page views in the first few hours the story was live, then we changed the headline and received over 16,000 more in just a few hours.
Writing a good web headline requires you to think about what your story is about the plan how you and other people would expect to search for it by. Use common keywords and phrases and dont worry about matching the print headline exactly.