First 2 Words Are All That Matters

April 21st, 2009

Users typically see about first 2 words for most text items on the web; they’ll see a little more if the lead words are short, and only the first word if they’re long.

This rule applies especially for title links so be careful how you write titles for your posts if you want to attract readers attention. It’s also good for SEO as search engines give better relevance to first couple of words and read just 50 characters or so.

Good Links

  • Use plain language
  • Use specific terminology
  • Follow conventions for naming common features
  • Front-load user- and action-oriented terms
  • Examples:
    • Gift Cards & E-Gift Certificates
    • New customers apply online now”
    • First 2 Words Are All That Matters”

Bad Links

  • Bland, generic words
  • Made-up words or terms
  • Starting with blah-blah and deferring the information-carrying text to the end
  • Examples:
    • Working while you study: paying tax”
    • Introducing Chase Exclusives”
    • Profit Accelerator Overview”

Guide Users to Correct Links

  • Allow users to confidently predict what they’ll get if they click.
  • Be clearly differentiated from the other links.
  • Not be misleading or promise too much.

Nanocontent (first bit of a link) just needs to be good enough that users will sniff the most promising links in full.

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3 Responses to “First 2 Words Are All That Matters”

  1. Željan Topić

    15 years ago

    You can see the best example of using correct title link structure on Google News – First 11 characters almost always catch users attention.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lynn Allen

    14 years ago

    Great ideas. However, it seems that the first two words rule does not apply to sports headlines.

    Reply to this comment

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