According to the New York Times, sub-editors are taming their more creative headline writing instincts and dazzling punnery and wit in order to appeal to search engines.
The search-engine "bots" that crawl the Web are increasingly
influential, delivering 30 percent or more of the traffic on some
newspaper, magazine or television news Web sites. And traffic means
readers and advertisers, at a time when the mainstream media is
desperately trying to make a living on the Web.
organizations large and small have begun experimenting with tweaking
their Web sites for better search engine results. But software bots are
not your ordinary readers: They are blazingly fast yet numbingly
literal-minded. There are no algorithms for wit, irony, humor or
stylish writing. The software is a logical, sequential, left-brain
reader, while humans are often right brain.
In newspapers and
magazines, for example, section titles and headlines are distilled
nuggets of human brainwork, tapping context and culture. "Part of the
craft of journalism for more than a century has been to think up clever
titles and headlines, and Google comes along and says, ‘The heck with
that,’ " observed Ed Canale, vice president for strategy and new media
at The Sacramento Bee.
This story supports my growing conviction that "search is the media", now it appears that even editors of mainstream media are realising this and learning how to be SEO (search engine optimisation) specialists.
Very interesting, but also sad for those of us who love the craft of the headline writer? Maybe they can continue to show off their wordsmithery in sub-headlines and standfirsts (unless Google starts to penalise them for that?).
: : One of the things I have enjoyed learning about from the experience of being a blogger is the way that content travels across the networks that make up the blogosphere and the wider web.
Yesterday for instance, the post I wrote about myspace.com briefly appeared on the BBC Radio One news site. I didn’t see it but for fifteen minutes or so a trickle of visitors arrived from there to see the views of my little brother.