I nearly titled this post Big White Cloud but went for Close Watch for no better reason than I have been experimenting with Stat Counter: both respond to Andrew Wake's suggestion in the comments on my previous post; neither will mean much to anyone unfamiliar with John Cale; neither will generate much new traffic.
Labelling blog posts is a very different art than, say, headlining a newspaper story. News headlines can either tell the story in the most direct way possible - 'Man bites dog' - or draw the reader in through clever intrigue. In the latter case, the effect can often be enhanced by punning, or by alluding to some evocative cultural reference - and often both.
Take three examples of great newspaper headlines. I've menioned it before, so let's start with Freddie Starr ate my hamster. Then Gotcha!, a (horrible) splash that at once said little or said everything. And an arguably less familiar headline that I have remembered for about 20 years, Boot and Shoe could kick themselves.
'Freddie Starr' worked because you just had to read on. Yes, it was iconographic in that it said something about the evolution of tabloid newsvalues but in all honesty that's not why I can remember when and where I read it; it just demanded you read the (not terribly good) story. 'Gotcha' said everything about the Falklands war. Boot and Shoe were a pub football team who lost a game they should have won and were serviced by a sub with arguably more skill than their centre forward.
Classics all, but none, though, would have worked particularly well on a blog post.
Can you imagine entering Gotcha in a search engine? No, so that rules out your chance visitors. Yes, you might be interested in Freddie Starr, or hamsters - but before the story broke, would you include them in the same search?
Blog post labels require an entirely diffeerent skill. They have to contain 'hot' search engine terms and 'sticky' ideas. A blog has at least three readerships: loyal followers who will read almost anything you write, fairly committed readers who monitor you through newsreaders but need a little incentive to click on through, and a much, much bigger readership who stumble upon you though Google.
Headlines and pictures sell newspapers; search friendly labels put you in the marketplace.
But first sentences and reputations sell blog stories.