Sunday, February 04, 2007

Rewriting Newspaper Headlines For Internet Search Engines

An interesting story on how Internet search engines are influencing how newspaper editors write headlines:

Let's say you were interested in the subject but didn't know the Journal had written an article on it. You might type into a search engine some combination of keywords like "Green Beans," "coffee," "U.S. military," "bases" and "soldiers." Various combinations failed to return a link to the article in the first page of results on Google. Using all of the keywords and terms separated like that did find the article, but not on The Wall Street Journal site. Instead, it was on a blog site that had reposted the article word for word...

The example points to the dilemma many newspapers and other print media find themselves in when posting articles online. Pithy, witty and provocative headlines--the pride of many an editor--are often useless and even counterproductive in getting the Web page ranked high in search engines. A low ranking means limited exposure and fewer readers...

News organizations that generate revenue from advertising are keenly aware of the problem and are using coding techniques and training journalists to rewrite the print headlines, thinking about what the story is about and being as clear as possible. The science behind it is called SEO, or search engine optimization, and it has spawned a whole industry of companies dedicated to helping Web sites get noticed by Google's search engine...

I think I experienced this phenemenon last year when I noticed a lot of hits to my blog entry on unsiloing in the workplace. My blog posting used the word unsiloing in its title, whereas the original news article had a much more obscure title.

So is this going to force newspaper editors to write more menaingful, less pithy headlines, or will newspapers simply have a two headlines for an article - a print headline and an internet headline?

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