This is the homepage of a site we wrote. It isn’t ridiculous, and indeed, it has nothing to do with today’s post.
Which is exactly my point. I’m working on a site right now with a traditional marketing company, and one of the things they like to do is to have catchy slogans as the focus of an ad. The heading of today’s post is a translation of the catchy title of an ad I remember from my childhood: “Soudainement, vous realisez: les sous-vêtements de votre mari sonts ridicules.”
It was a magazine ad depicting the chagrin of a woman on the beach as her husband changed clothes (a thing people do on beaches in France more freely than in the U.S.) and she noticed what ridiculous underpants he was wearing.
I no longer remember what the woman was supposed to do about it, but I sure do remember the headline of that ad.
It’s an effective and popular technique for print ads, but it totally doesn’t work for websites. Search engines don’t get jokes, aren’t charmed by wit, and get all confused when their attention is redirected. The heading at your homepage needs to be something very clear and obvious, using your major keywords.
But what if you really want the startle factor for humans? Or, as in the case of the website I’m working on right now, you want to match the website with the rest of the marketing campaign, which rests on clever slogans unrelated to the essential keywords for your business. What can you do?
Easy. Include the headline in your graphic, as a graphic rather than as text. This is a total no-no for most headlines on your homepage, since you want the search engines to be able to understand what you’re offering, but it’s a great way to present your clever tagline to the human visitors without confusing your robot visitors.