I am a word nerd. This means I set my DVR for Will Shortz interviews, do wacky things like read 25 pages of the encyclopedia, and find myself physically pained by press releases that describe how “Mom’s will just love our new patent-pending Baybee Onezees!!!“
Illegal use of Y! Illegal use of Z! Illegal use of apostrophe! Illegal use of exclamation point! Arghhhhhhh.
It means that I also entered the land of LOL/OMG/WTF internet parlance with great trepidation.
The other day bluesnyce on Twitter offered to introduce me to DW and all I could think was, Griffith? Weaning off the message boards has perhaps been the best thing for my writing since my memoir instructor at Gotham Writer’s Workshop told me to describe the room after I walk into it.
(Also, I still hate friend as a verb. Just getting that off my chest.)
Then just now, I read a tweet from Jen Singer that articulates my word nerd fears exactly: SEO is killing the clever headline on the net.
I’m not some old fuddy duddy mourning the loss of shan’t and shaking my fist in the air at the kids who say “like” six times in a sentence. I’m not furious that you can now write Fuck in Advertising Age and have it published, provided you’re Bob Garfield. What I am sad about is the the demise of wit in the pursuit of Google traffic. It’s been on my mind for a while.
Some of the greatest blog headlines that have stuck with me had nothing to do with SEO. In fact, they’d probably drive entirely the wrong search audience to the post.
You don’t get headlines like that with keywords.
I get the need for traffic. I understand that this is the way things work in this medium. Newspaper headlines were written with the purpose of grabbing you on your way to the subway, and blog headlines are written with the purpose of grabbing you on a search for “pregnant mom sex,” as Beth reminds me.
You know how there’s NABLOPOMO? I kind of wish there were one month where people just wrote the best freaking headlines possible, search engines be damned.