The curious consequences of a header

Blaugust 2019 is in full swing, and according to Belghast’s schedule it’s Topic Brainstorming Week right now.

Blaugust_Brainstorming

I’ve not signed up to Blaugust as a mentor since I don’t feel experienced enough yet to give advice to other bloggers. There is one thing I have put some thought into lately though, and that is the art of choosing a good header for your posts. That’s what I’ll talk about today, and maybe it’s an interesting topic for you too.

To be honest, I’ve never put much thought into choosing a title for my blog posts other than what’s a servicable header for the post’s contents and also suits my overall style of writing?

In my opinion that’s a good approach, but it has its drawbacks, as I’ve had to realize. More on that later.

The first of those two intents is a no-brainer. A post’s header should give readers at least a broad idea of what the post is about. It doesn’t need to outline its whole contents though, after all it shouldn’t be too long. If the post is about one specific game, for example, I often exclude its name from the title and introduce it in the post’s first paragraph instead.

It’s also totally ok when a header doesn’t give away too much and instead tries to provoke curiosity, as long as the post itself does actually satisfy that curiosity.

The second bit, infusing the header with your personal style, is also an approach I highly recommend, at least if it’s your personal blog and you’re not writing for a site where your style might not be appropriate for some reason.

Pretty much all bloggers I follow do exactly that. Bhagpuss, for example, likes to use musical references in his headers, which I really like (although I admittedly don’t get many of them).

Personally, I like alliterations. I don’t forcibly try to think of one every time, as that would most likely get old pretty soon, but if one comes to mind naturally I’ll gladly use it.

Header1
In hindsight this one might have been a bit too much

However little or much thought you put into a post’s header, it can have entirely unforseen consequences. One of my own posts made me realize this, which is why I’ve started to think about the topic at all.

Moon mining for fun and profit

This post of mine, published on January 22nd, 2018, has had by far the most views of all my posts, more than twice the amount of the next highest. I’d noticed its appearance in daily statistics every now and then, but didn’t think much of it. Only when I had a look at my overall statistics a while back I grasped the scope of it.

The thing is, the post is nothing special. Just a little recap of my first experience with moon mining in EVE Online. Hence I didn’t understand why it had so many klicks at first.

Thinking about it I then realized that the reason for the unusually high amount of views is without a doubt the post’s header. Not because it’s particularly witty or anything, but because it contains a combination of words that I’m sure many an EVE player has googled at some point: “moon mining” and “profit”.

To all EVE players who came here in hopes to find specific instructions for making lots of ISK by mining moon goo: I apologize.

Now, I have to admit that I still don’t always scrutinize my headers for Google-misunderstanding-safety – Is that a thing? I think it should be – but if I intend to use words like profit, money, rich or something along those lines I’ll at the very least think it through one more time before actually using it from now on.

So yeah, a post’s header can have more to it than meets the eye on first glance, more even than the author themselves realizes. One more reason to put some thought into it before hitting the publish-button, isn’t it?

One Reply to “The curious consequences of a header”

  1. Alliteration, bad puns, and obscure allusions are favorite headline methods for me. Generally I start out with a simple declarative phrase, which often stays put. Things like “Keepstar Dies” or Expansion Launches” or core concepts like that. I tend to add some description, like where the event happened or what it means, but when lacking something humorous I try to get straight to the heart of the topic. And then I go bury the lede in the text, but that is another story.

    Liked by 1 person

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