When the New York Times has an article about tweaking your headlines for the search engines, you know that the word is out.

While the article makes some points on writing styles and some of the challenges that editors now face when attempting to write misleading witty and creative headlines to sell their stories to readers. Newspapers have begun to understand that their sometimes clever headlines may not provide the search engines with enough information to properly classify the story, so they have adopted a clearer, more factual approach (say it isn’t so!)

One of my favorite examples in the article was this:
“On the Web, space limitations can coincide with search-engine preferences. In the print version of The New York Times, an article last Tuesday on Florida beating U.C.L.A. for the men’s college basketball championship carried a longish headline, with allusions to sports history: “It’s Chemistry Over Pedigree as Gators Roll to First Title.” On the Times Web site, whose staff has undergone some search-engine optimization training, the headline of the article was, “Gators Cap Run With First Title.”

So, readers don’t desire clarity and factual headlines as well? It seems to be summed up with the headline of the article: This Boring Headline is Written for Google. I’m sure a few SEO copywriters I know would take odds with that opinion.

Danny jumps into the act as well . . .

“Journalists, they say, would be wise to do a little keyword research to determine the two or three most-searched words that relate to their subject — and then include them in the first few sentences.”That’s not something they teach in journalism schools,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch, an online newsletter. “But in the future, they should.”

Bravo, Danny.

Imagine. Keyword research into what people search for, how they speak and the words that they use to find news – it’s a great concept to model. It might go far into getting newspapers back into the public arena, as both stock prices and readership are dropping for the old media giants. New media, such as Google News, Yahoo News and thousands of well-known blogs are providing instant news fast with access to a variety of additional news sources. Even YouTube and MySpace are surpassing the New York Times handily in daily reach numbers.