on the evolving language of headlines

Gene Weingarten wrote up a nice rant about the evolution of headlines from the era when print headlines were meant to grab a reader's eye to the modern era where headlines are meant to juice SEO.

Money Quote:
Newspapers still have headlines, of course, but they don't seem to strive for greatness or to risk flopping anymore, because editors know that when the stories arrive on the Web, even the best headlines will be changed to something dull but utilitarian. That's because, on the Web, headlines aren't designed to catch readers' eyes. They are designed for "search engine optimization," meaning that readers who are looking for information about something will find the story, giving the newspaper a coveted "eyeball." Putting well-known names in headlines is considered shrewd, even if creativity suffers.

The temptation to end this post as he did was great...but modesty has won...this time...

Comments

thewordguy said…
Want to know what is really depressing? Headline writers have gone from creating cheap gimmicky ways of catching my attention to cheap gimmicky ways of catching a search engine's attention. Once we have programs that generate headlines automatically using SEO terms, humans can stand back and let the computer get on with it themselves. Written by machines for machines - kind of catchy slogan for the future of media, yes?
Chris said…
The perfect seo headline?

"lady gaga lindsey lohan one cup"

I'm ashamed I wrote that, haha. I feel dirty.

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