The art of headline writing is something close to my heart. I'd like to think that every so often I've come up with a catchy one either here or on The Sleaze
. Unlike many other 'satire' sites, I prefer to give my stories proper titles which double as headlines, rather than just using the first line of the story, or a key word heavy phrase, as many others do. Getting to the point, I was interested to discover in last week's Guardian
an article on how the Sun
's journalists and sub-editors had been given training in writing 'search engine friendly' headlines which can be used on both the web and print editions of the paper. Incredibly, the orthodoxy that such headlines had to contain all the right kind of key words and phrases so as to be placed highly in searches, was repeated. Indeed, there was even spurious 'evidence' that some of the Sun
's most famous headlines wouldn't
place highly in 'relevant' searches. I really am surprised that such bollocks is still being peddled.
In seven and a half years or so of running The Sleaze
, I've discovered, mainly through trial and error, that most of what's written about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and internet marketing is absolute cobblers. Link exchanges, banner exchanges, traffic exchanges - none of them generate significant long-term traffic. Most traffic comes from search engines or 'word of mouth' on blogs, message boards, social networking and news sites. When it comes to search engines, the important thing to remember is that the overwhelming majority of current search engines search the whole text
of a web page. Just optimising the title is pointless. Much of the guff spouted on the subject of SEO assumes that you know
what search terms potential visitors will use to find you and that you can optimise your site accordingly. That might be true for sites representing narrow interests or very specific products and services. However, for sites like The Sleaze
, peddling satire and parody, you can't narrow down the possible search terms so easily. Not only are they going to vary from story to story, but with regard to the overall site, very few people ever search for anything as specific as 'news satire', say. The same is true of genuine news sites - or The Sun
, for that matter. I've no doubt that the 'traditional' headlines 'tested' by the Guardian
didn't fare well in searches using very specific terms. But that doesn't
represent the reality of how most people search the web. Unfortunately, those who peddle SEO 'solutions' rely upon the fact that their potential customers don't
know this. So there you are, Doc Sleaze's guide to web optimisation: don't bother, just make sure you are listed with Google and the rest will follow.
Labels: Media Madness, Musings From the Mind of Doc Sleaze, Technophobia