Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A word (or two) about headlines

As more stories are being published on theorion.com before they're published in the paper, I'm noticing that the percentage of Web-friendly headlines is increasing at the same time.

By Web-friendly, I mean headlines that will direct someone using a search engine to a story that matches the keywords in the headline. Someone searching for a story that includes information about Gov. Jerry Brown, for example, will probably type Gov. and Jerry and Brown into Google or Yahoo! or Dogpile. If the headline on a story includes those three words, the more likely it is to show up near the top of the search results along with a link to story.

The more good keywords a headline contains, the more likely it is that a searcher will find his or her way to the story under that headline.

Often, that means that a headline written to match space requirements in the paper newspaper or that's built around a pun or a play on words is a bad headline for the Web (search engines really have no sense of humor). That should also mean that editors who are putting a story that has already been published in the paper should rewrite the headline to make it Web friendly.

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