It’s Not Smart To Be Clever

You see the title of this web entry: “It’s Not Smart To Be Clever.” It’s working against me.

After you read the entry, you’ll understand what I’m getting at. In the abstract, it means nothing. But, it reads ‘clever.’ That’s why it’s here.

In the ‘good old days,’ clever counted because we found stories in print or on TV by accident. You picked up the paper or turned on TV news and then saw what had been prepared for you. Oh look, there’s something about Britney.

Now it’s often knowledge on demand. To use an old phrase in a very different way, you’re asking for it.

Let’s face it, altruistic as I wish to appear, I like it when more people come to my website. And, I know from looking a my logs and other breakdowns that a huge portion of my daily readers get here, not because they’re regular readers, but because they searched for something (mainly on Google) and were directed to this site.

Among the most important ‘tags’ the search engines consider on a webpage is its title – the afore mentioned: “It’s Not Smart To Be Clever.”

People might be searching Google for ideas on search engine optimization, or how to make a more effective website. My title will never match up with those searches. Yet the page and its name are absolutely germane to search engine optimization.

I work in TV. We ‘tease’ all the time. It’s those little readers we do before a commercial, for instance. They’re put in the show to try and get you to watch longer (for a story you want to see – we’re not totally heartless).

On the Internet, those teases have zero value!

It is easier said than done. I want my website to look clever and witty. Writing a title that’s ‘just the facts’ is often anything but. “Clever Titles Are Less Effective With Search Engines” just doesn’t have the same zing to humans – though it’s more pleasing to Google.

I compromise. When I can I will try and incorporate the searchable essence of my entry in the title, but mostly I revert to what looks clever – and lose because of it.

There’s more on this in today’s New York Times. I guess I’m not the only one who thinks about ways to drive traffic.

WEEK IN REVIEW | April 9, 2006

Ideas & Trends: This Boring Headline Is Written for Google


News organizations large and small have begun experimenting with tweaking their Web sites for better search engine results.

With the month of April about a third gone, this website has served approximately 10,000 pages. Could that be brought to 11,000 or 15,000 just by changing my titles? Believe it or not, probably. Search engines are that important to traffic. And titles are that important to search engines.

Oh, the title in the Times article – very ineffective.

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