This post has been updated below.
One of the team behind the In Other Words blog at the Globe and Mail has nothing good to say about a recent search engine optimization class at Front Street HQ; the post started like this:
This isn’t about books. But it is about words.
Last week, our headline on the review for Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist was one of those sweetly goofy and slightly shopworn plays on words that newspapers are rightly famous and infamous for. The book is about a self-doubting poet in midlife crisis mulling (and procrastinating) over an essay about rhyme; the headline was “The marinating of the ancient rhymer.”
I’m not going to explain that headline to anyone, because there is no point. We in the Books section had a good laugh about it. It’s the kind of fun you can get away with at a newspaper, and we went about our self-congratulatory way all pleased with ourselves.
Our merriment came to a screeching halt on Tuesday after I went to a seminar on search engine optimization and discovered that it was actually a really really crappy headline. I learned that this kind of badinage, so peculiar to newspapers, has no place on the Internet. The reason is both simple and deranged: The most important reader of Internet news headlines is not you, the sentient, curious human being, but the robots at Google that scan headlines and return search results based on what their cold, lifeless eyes tell them.
It only gets better from there! At first I was just going to point you towards the blog post to read the rest. But, as I was blogging this the post went down; good thing I copied and pasted the text; if not the authors name (argh).
Update: Globe and Mail’s Matthew Ingram responds on his blog in a post titled The Story Behind the Deleted Post. I’m pleased the Globe is being upfront and transparent with their readers.
Here is the full text of the Globe & Mail rant that was on their site; embedded via Scribid: