My Adventures With A Headline Analyzer
OMG, Someone Hold Me, Please
You’re probably aware that headlines hold a lot of power in the world of Medium and the greater web. A good headline means more reads and a poopy headline means that all your hard work was meaningless and you should stick to making burgers, or painting nails, or stress eating, or whatever it is you’re good at.
Headlines have always been a little tricky for me. My first inclination is normally to go subtle, then let the hilarity unfold in the content. This is a stupid approach and you’re allowed to feel smarter than me.
So, I’ve started running my headlines through a Headline Analyzer and the results are… interesting.
I was working on a piece for the Writer’s Cooperative February Challenge and it seemed as good a time as any to up my title game. So, I entered the first headline that came into my head:
“A Desperate Love Letter to 80s Dancewear”
I thought the word “Desperate” might make it kinda catchy, but the headline analyser informed me that my title only earned a 66.
The tool told me the length of my title was good and it had some effective keywords, however the sentiment was neutral, instead of emotional. A Desperate Love Letter seems fairly emotional to me, but, for the sake of this experiment, I will not argue with the all powerful analyzer.
Time to try another headline, one with a little more emotional punch.
“80s Dancewear: Please Come Back To Me”
This one was even worse. It liked the word “Please”, but I lost the power that came from “Desperate” and “Love”. Only 61 points. Dangnabbit. Still generic. I don’t know if I’m emotionally strong enough for this.
“Why Did You Leave Us, 80s Dancewear?”
Bam! 67 points! Switching my title to a question gave it a bit of a boost, even though I lost some of my power words. At this point in the process I started wondering what a good score consists of. The tool is fairly coy on this point. I also start wondering what an Emotional or Uncommon word is, since I haven’t used any yet.
“Shit, I Sure Do Miss The Desperate Beauty of 80s Dancewear.”
Bam! 69! My highest score yet. I think it likes it when I swear. It gives me dirty scores.
I’m still hitting the keywords, but the tool is giving me a big frowny face on sentiment. It’s telling me I’m being too negative? Me? Too negative? You’re lucky this isn’t a first date, headline analyzer.
In a bid for an uncommon word, I tried:
“ShitBuckets, I Sure Do Miss the Desperate Beauty of 80s Dancewear”
Apparently ShitBuckets is not an uncommon word. :(
“Fart Poopy Face Burn Burn Shit Barrel of Monkeys”
The Headline Analyzer does not recommend this title. It gives me a red 52, at which point I realize that red means bad, yellow means generic and green (probably) means good. I haven’t had a green score yet. I should probably quit writing and start building rocking chairs or edible arrangements.
“I Swear, I Am Going To Strangle This Stupid Tool”
Well, there we go. 70 points. Green. Looks like we have our title.
What have I learned? Well, first of all, I’ve learned that I need to work on my patience… but we probably already knew that.
Honestly, I still have some work to do on coming up with titles that properly express my intent and entice readers, without coming off too click-baity. There really is an art to it and I give full respect to those who have mastered this skill.
Let me know which of the titles above is your favorite, or if you have an even better idea for a title I should have used. BTW, here’s a link to the piece, if you’re curious what I eventually went with. 😜