Bogus Blog Headlines: Bad for Business


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I was on LinkedIn today and saw an article that really grabbed my attention. The title: “Why Being On the First Page of Google Can Be the Worst Thing For Your Business.” Everyone has been clamoring for years about how getting to the top of Google is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. Entire companies, heck, industries, have sprung up with the sole purpose of getting your business to the top of search results. Now here is this author telling us we’ve got it all wrong and that we’re actually hurting our businesses! I’d better read that article right away…

The article argues, more or less, unless you have a great online reputation, you don’t really want the attention that comes from having your business at the top of Google search results. They argue, it is more important to have a great reputation before you work on being visible, because you don’t want customers to see you and think badly of your business.

That’s kind of like saying, until you have a bunch of customer testimonials on the walls, you don’t want your storefront to be visible to potential customers. Or, until you have a certain number of positive online reviews, you shouldn’t even put up a website for your business. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Yes- customer reviews and your online reputation are important aspects of your marketing. There’s no doubt about that. But the best way to get those is to have lots of real-life customers coming to your business and being satisfied with your product or service. That’s simply not going to happen as much as it could, and definitely not as much as you want, if your business is on the equivalent of page 50 of Google search results: on a dirt road 100 miles from the nearest potential customer. Local businesses, from auto shops to independent contractors to mobile dog groomers are increasingly dependent on search results (and mobile ones at that) to get new customers.

I still can’t get over the fact that that article essentially argued “Having your business in a great prominent location on a busy street near a crowded mall is bad for business.” Your business needs customers. To get them, your business needs to be visible, both in the real world and online. Arguing the opposite of that is just plain silly. (Although if you had a truly invisible business that might have its own unique appeal…kind of like the Invisible Man…).

Clearly the author knew it was a controversial headline. You could argue that the surprising headline accomplished their mission of getting me to read the article. On that count, you’d be right.

Confusing Headline = Annoyed Audience

Confusing Headline = Annoyed Audience

But step back for a minute and think about the real purpose behind that article. The author is marketing their business for the same reasons you run your business or go to work every day. That is, mostly to make money. They’re writing the article to attract potential customers. They wanted attention and got it. Mission accomplished there. But once they had my attention, it was their job to try and win me over, in at least some small way. Whether that means me learning the name of their company, or starting to like or trust them a little bit, or even wanting to learn more about their product. However, since the article fell short of backing up its controversial headline, it did the opposite of what they wanted, and instead turned me away from the business. Next time I see their name or other articles, I’m going to have a healthy skepticism instead of the like & trust they really ought to be trying to develop with their blog.

The number one thing you can do to keep this happening to your business blog, and to build your audience rather than turn them away, is to be honest. Sure it would be great if every headline was as enticing as the promos for tonight’s news at 11. But remember the purpose of your blog is to build relationships. Great relationships are founded on trust. Trust only comes from honest and open communication. Don’t fall into the trap of using hyperbole to draw people in, only to fall short of their expectations and turn them away.

Borrowing from Noah Rickun here, people have to like you before they’ll trust you and before they’ll buy from you. When’s the last time you heard someone come back from a date and say, “You know, I really don’t like that guy, but boy did I trust him.” ? Fact is, they have to like you before they’ll buy from you. Getting them to like you is what your blog is all about. Don’t ruin that with bogus headlines that entice them and don’t deliver. Be genuine. Sure you want to write intriguing headlines, but you need to back them up with solid and helpful content.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this in the comments.

Robb Holmstrom
Marketer. Husband. Dad. Not necessarily in that order. My specialties: Building and leading winning teams. Inbound & content marketing (yes there is a big difference between the two). B2B Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing. BBQ Teriyaki flank steak.


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