Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lost and Found In Cyberspace

As a part of my journalism feature writing class, I included a post about the new law regarding lead in children's clothes. Originally I was going to title the post "The Unintended Consequences of Law". However, my professor pointed out that although the title had a nice ring to it, it would not show up very often in web searches done by people trying to get information about the new law. I changed the title to H.R. 4040: the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008
Almost immediately I began to get new hits to my blog regarding this post. Many of the hits are the result of Google searches. The number of people searching for an article regarding "The Unintended Consequences of Law" was destined to be near zero. Although I am not specifically trolling the Internet for more readers (well, maybe a little), I am glad to share a post with someone interested in its subject matter.

Why did I pick the "catchy" title first? I was thinking like a print media person. Headlines, chapter headings, short story titles and magazine article titles are often written to catch a readers eye and spark a readers interest as they scan printed pages. However, web readers cannot possible scan all the web pages on the world wide web. There are billions of such pages. So we use search engines . Search engines look for web pages that seem most likely to contain information relative to the search term. Blogspot (the blogging software I use) creates a unique URL for each post. The URL generally incorporates some or all of the words in the title. Although the exact algorithms used are a closely guarded secret, I am betting that a web page with a URL containing words that might commonly be used in a search term is much more likely to be prominently displayed in a list of search results.

It's been a great lesson for me. I have already seen a substantial increase in the number of hits to my blog. Imagine if I had employed this idea in my last 270 or so posts!
Post a Comment