Google Blogoscoped

Monday, April 10, 2006

NYT: Tweak Titles for Searchbots

This article by the New York Times doesn’t seem to get microcontent. It insists that it’s necessary these days to come up with headlines for search engine bots.

It’s true that puns or irony, or not getting to the gist, don’t fare well with online but titles (Google itself was one of the worst offenders in the beginning of their blog). But it’s not just about search engines. Understanding microcontent means you as a writer understand a headline can appear in a great variety of contexts; a bookmark, a title within the browser, a title in the search results, an automated link from another website, a title within an archive overview, a filename for a link dropped onto the desktop, and so on.

For example on this blog I practically always use the word “Google” in headlines to posts about Google, even when it’s clear from the context of this blog that mostly everything here is about Google. But that assumes that readers will always read the headlines in the context of this blog, which is wrong. For example, they may see them in their feed reader mixed up with other headlines. Or, indeed, in search results, which makes this part of search engine optimization. But as is often the case with good SEO tactics, they are rooted in basic accessibility that would make sense even if there were no searchbots.

So, New York Times, don’t write headlines for searchbots, please. Write them for human readers. But don’t make an assumption as to where those humans will be reading your headline, today or in the future. You just don’t know.

[Via Nathan Weinberg.]


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!