A couple quick comments on a recent NYT article, “This Boring Headline Is Written for Google.”
1) From an SEO-standpoint, I find this article way too short-sighted. Yes, having your clear keywords in your TITLE tag (generally the article’s title) can help as an on-page factor. Indeed, it will likely also influenced the anchor text of links to your website (not the fact that I’ve linked to this article using its title as the anchor text. However, I think the article fails to realize that “interesting” titles that maybe are the more traditional way – the titles that captivate an audience, are still very effective w/ search engines. Why? B/c of link popularity. An article that draws interest is more likely to draw a larger number of links. Thus, a boring keyword-friendly title may bode well for on-page factors, it may negate that benefit in that it may also fail to draw as much attention to itself from those scanning headlines, and thus get less link popularity. I do not agree that tweaking a title tag (again, used as one in the same with the headline of the article in this case) is necessarily a bonus at all for SEO-considerations, b/c of that potential loss in link weight. Why not put your title tag as a nice boring KW-friendly version, and still keep the actual title of the article something catchy?
Talk to anyone familiar with the optimization of press releases for SEO benefits and I’m sure they will tell you that keywords in your title is important, but not at the expense of sacrificing interest in the press release itself – b/c that is what produces the link weight.
2) I find it ignorant that the article takes the approach that SEOs are the opponent of the search engines:
For these sites, search engine optimization has become a constant battle of one-upmanship, pitting the search engine technologists against the marketing experts and computer scientists working for the Web sites.
Think of it as an endless chess game. The optimizer wizards devise some technical trick to outwit the search-engine algorithms that rank the results of a search. The search engines periodically change their algorithms to thwart such self-interested manipulation, and the game starts again.
I basically follow Google’s recommendations on SEO, which would put my efforts (and those of many other white-hat SEOs) on the same side as Google:
Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted.
– from Google (source)
That link right above is basically what I do. It used to be more under the radar, now Google has gone and posted it on their site and officially endorsed the tactics. Kind of gives things away a bit 🙂 No tricks, just intelligent approach, hard work and good sense. But again, that shows that SEOs aren’t necessarily “the enemy” of the search engines, and it annoys me when major publications make it out to seem that way b/c they only know a small part of the puzzle.