Web sites operated by newspapers are occasionally put behind paywalls, which almost everyone decries, and for which almost no one volunteers to write a check. Having never been on the far side of a paywall myself, I’m really not in a position to speculate as to what it’s like for the online staff, but I imagine that if your customers are actually paying for the product, there’s less pressure to gin up the maximum number of eyeballs, and therefore less reason to listen to people like this:
At the national College Media Advisers conference, students attend sessions like “SEO 101 for Journalists,” where they are told not to be “tempted” (the word used by one session leader) to write funny headlines.
“People are flat-out less likely to read funny headlines,” says session leader Aram Zucker-Scharff, an SEO consultant who works as the community manager at George Mason University’s office of student media. “You have to be transparent.”
Maybe (maybe?) I’m a grizzled old mossback, but I think stained glass is a lot more interesting than flat panes. And if I can stain it effectively myself, so much the better — though I’m not above borrowing someone else’s pigments.
Admittedly, I don’t have to compete for those eyeballs to support my business model; in fact, should someone ask, I’ll deny even having a business model. I do this because, well, this is what I do. And while I hate to agree with someone at Slate, I find this well-nigh indisputable:
“There are headlines you can write which, because they’re so clear and have so much of the subject in them, you will get a little bit more SEO,” [editor David] Plotz says. “But if you write a really clever headline that your most Slate-like readers love, and they think, ‘I’m so in on this joke,’ you will deepen that relationship with them.”
No consultant can teach you that.
(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)