Spotting SEO-friendly rewrites at ESPN.com
I follow stories on ESPN.com via the site's RSS feeds. Lately I kept looking and wondering what was different about the items -- my copy editor sense was tingling like crazy.
Now I realize: Most of the headlines include full team names, when teams are mentioned, and full names of people.
A headline that, written for a newspaper, might read, "Jones mum on TO's release," now reads like the highlighted headline in the screen shot accompanying this post:
"Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones rebuffs ESPN report on Terrell Owens release discussions"
Why? Search engine optimization, of course. Someone has trained the Web editors to include full names of people, places and things whenever possible in headlines, because Google and its kind can interpret them better. Gone are the cryptic "headlinese" abbreviations used to make meaningful phrases fit in a 1-column, 4-line, 48-point spot.
Do everyday people notice? Maybe not; the verbose style might even help them. Old copy editors, however, will find it hard to fight our temptation to wordsmith. It just seems so ... inefficient.