Want hits on the Web? Ditch cleverness for clarity

SEO experts are urging us to be boring, despite a valiant rearguard action by curmudgeons who love wordplay.

These are dark times for those who admire a good turn of phrase in a headline.

“Google doesn’t laugh,” The Atlantic reminds us as it explains how search engine optimization has taken all the fun out of puns.

“Readers need more information when they’re browsing content on the Web—it’s a fact,” says an SEO expert quoted by the magazine. “Depriving readers of valuable information in an effort to make them click will backfire every time.”

In other words, The New York Post‘s famous “Headless body in topless bar” nowadays ought to be “Killer apprehended after murder, rape in NY strip club.”

The Atlantic raises the curtain on contrasting scenes on opposite sides of the country. A copy editors’ conference in Phoenix represents the dying world of large-type wit. There, a newspaper editor coaxes punning headlines out of workshop participants.

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