It just happened to me again! You know, where you see an interesting headline or blog post title, click the link, then find you have been fooled? You reach the post, only to find that it’s clearly not what the title promised.
That trick is used a lot, because it delivers short term results. However, there’s limited longevity in fooling people into clicking links. people are not stupid and the next time they see a headline from that blogger, they are far less likely to trust the link.
Headlines are promises
The headline of a blog post makes a promise. If the headline says “5 Powerful Time Management Tips”, we are expecting 5 great time management tips. If the content of that post then fails to deliver on that promise, we learn not to trust the next headline we see from them. They train us to ignore them.
I have regularly heard Internet marketing experts slam people like Seth Godin and Robert Scoble (and me) for writing post titles, which are not sensational every time. They suggest that we would get more traffic, if we made inflated promises with our post titles, rather than focus on titles that are compelling, yet make it easy for the reader to know exactly what the post is about. For me, and I am sure for Seth and Robert too, the trust of our readers is paramount.
I reach thousands of people every day, using titles that people trust. That’s because people return to this blog, knowing that the content of my posts will deliver on the promise made in the title. If I over sold or made false claims in the titles, I would possibly attract more new readers, but they would only visit here one time. People really don’t appreciate being tricked.
We should write the best posts we can. We should write interesting, engaging titles too. It doesn’t matter which comes first. However, we must be aware that if the title is inaccurate, we will train people not to trust us. We have to deliver, if we want to earn the ongoing attention of our readers.