Google Blog Titles Need Work

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The Official Google Blog carries messages varying from discussions of Google’s legal affairs to recommendations on relaxation techniques. The way Googlers title their posts has some other bloggers wishing for a little more clarity for those titles.

Prominent Google followers Danny Sullivan and Philipp Lenssen took issue with Google’s style of headline writing. Brian Clark took issue with Sullivan, Lenssen, and Techmeme. Nathan Weinberg embarked on a discussion of geometry and blog posting style versus print media.

Just another nanosecond in the blogosphere, everyone. Let’s see if it can be instructive.

The Official Google Blog presents all kinds of topics from all kinds of Googlers. Nicole Wong, associate general counsel at Google, probably isn’t going to make light of the company’s seemingly endless beta labels on its products. Brett Lider, a user experience designer on Google Groups, can make that joke. Both people operate from different perspectives.

So there’s a range from exceedingly serious to airy and humorous. The problem as seen by Sullivan is Googlers don’t do well enough in crafting blog titles to reflect the content or its seriousness:

A public rant, and I’m sorry — but I’ve had it with the Official Google Blog having post headlines that give people no idea what the post is about. First some recent examples, then why this is bad in general.

Greetings, Earthlings!: Gives you no idea this is about Googlers taking part in a 24 hour bike race.

Inside Macs at Google: Google’s got a new blog about how it supports Macs, but the headline makes you think it’s about Macs in use at Google.

You get the idea. There’s a postscript to Sullivan’s rant, and we’ll get to that shortly.

Lenssen picked up the proverbial ball from Sullivan and as we might observe in the US, ran with it in listing ten steps to good blog writing style, starting with these:

Use descriptive headlines that reveal the point of the article without further reading; the key here is to create microcontent that can fare well on its own.

Write in inverted pyramid style: first get to the point and mention the core ideas, then fill in the details in later paragraphs.

The first link is the one most people click on, so it should also be the main link for your article.

Clark lamented how Lenssen was able to ride Sullivan’s coattails to prominent placement on the blog-aggregating site Techmeme:

Want some good Techmeme exposure?

Here’s 3 easy steps to showing up:
Do a riff on a post by a famous SEO guy.
Offer pedestrian blog writing tips.
This one is the real key have the word Google in your name.

Sour grapes? Maybe.

But Clark picked up some Techmeme exposure himself with that post, so maybe all’s well that end’s well there. Meanwhile, Weinberg debated the merits of inverted pyramid style versus an hourglass format of presenting content. Instead of starting strong and ending weak (inverted pyramid), bloggers should start and end strong, based on the habits of many readers who skim longer posts that way.

Back to Google and Sullivan, who contact Karen Wickre at Google. She acts as de facto managing editor of the blog, and noted how readers have complained about the stiffer, more serious titles, and about the lighter, more humorous ones.

“Karen tells me she’s inclined to move towards more descriptive titles to help readers and those seeking information from the blog,” said Sullivan.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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