Saturday, September 12, 2009

Does whatever a spider can

That is a bad headline. It doesn’t tell you what the blog is about, and apparently being vague and mysterious turns people off. Looking back, it appears each of my blog entries is a lesson about what NOT to do. My work headlines, I’m pleased to say, are much better.

Even web headlines have to be “hyperlocal” with key words to catch local interest and engine spiders — Aha! — used by aggregators like Google and Yahoo to turn up the most relevant results to an online search. I’m a name dropper when it comes to web headlines. I hope that’s working.

It’s a good lesson in search engine optimization. The best article won’t earn that almighty click if it’s linked to a shabby headline. And keep it short. Only 65 characters, for example, show up in a Google search engine result page.

A quick scan of daily online newspapers in larger markets shows headlines are short, sweet and to the point.

Canucks hit the ice for training camp this weekend - Vancouver Sun
New year, new hope for Leafs - Toronto Sun, showing its sense of humour Ba dum pum.

Albertans must like alliteration:
Calgary Sun — Vipers slugger playoff proven; Sergent pumped for pitch at title (Say those three times fast)
Edmonton Sun - Protest boils over Bosco Homes closure; Crash cop dodges another bullet

The threat of an election call brings out the most blunt headlines. Wish politicians were as straightforward:
Government could fall Friday - Toronto Star (‘nuff said)

The return of credit, the return of risk as economy begins to mend - Globe and Mail (That’s actually 66 characters, but leaves no doubt what the article is about.)

Print handcuffed us into trying to summarize an article in just a few words. I for one am grateful to make use of more space online and give readers what they bargained for. But not in my blogs. I’m afraid those headlines will continue to be vague and mysterious.

The Hyper Journalist


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