April 10, 2006
JOURNALISTS over the years have assumed they were writing their headlines and articles for two audiences — fickle readers and nitpicking editors. Today, there is a third important arbiter of their work: the software programs that scour the Web
The search-engine “bots” that crawl the Web are increasingly influential, delivering 30 percent or more of the traffic
So news organizations large and small have begun experimenting with tweaking their Web sites for better search engine results. But software bots are not your ordinary readers: They are blazingly fast yet numbingly literal-minded. There are no algorithms for wit, irony, humor or stylish writing. The software is a logical, sequential, left-brain reader, while humans are often right brain.
I hate to see news articles change and become dry because they are optimizing for crawlers. If journalists affect society by picking stories to write, how to write them, taking sides (i.e. liberal versus conservative), etc….does that mean that crawlers and, especially, Googlebot now has that same type of power/influence?