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What time is the Superbowl?

Back in 2012, I moved to New York for a job at The Huffington Post. This was the Web 2.0 era, and AOL had bought HuffPo about a year prior for roughly $300 million. I feel ancient just using these names and terms.

This was my first “real” job, as I finished grad school in December 2010 in a bleak job market. I spent most of 2011 clamoring for any work I could find. For the first six months post-degree, I worked sporadically as a video production assistant, then for a travel guide company that was pivoting to digital for the rest of the year.

Anyway, I arrived in New York eager to prove my chops as a reporter and editor. It’d be apocryphal to say it was my first day, but sometime in my first week, I had to attend an SEO training session. HuffPo excelled in search, and the speed at which it could publish articles on breaking news was a novelty to me.

One of the funniest things about that session was the example of “What time is the Superbowl?” (sic). It stands out in part because anyone who attended such a session saw this example. It was a success, at some point, but became such a trope of mid-2010s internet that any website with any authority started writing the same exact article.

The kicker in this session, of course, was that the article opened with something semi-snarky, “It’s at 6:30 p.m. EST. And actually, it’s spelled ‘Super Bowl.'” The article used “superbowl” in its title and slug because up until 2010, more people misspelled “Super Bowl” than not. Check out Google Trends on the comparison.

I can’t find said article anywhere on the internet, even after a brief site search. That’s just fine. For me, it’s amusing to think about what qualified as a search genius back in 2012, when SEO was a nascent industry. Nowadays, such an article is table stakes.

That job definitely taught me a lot about the inner-workings of search and online publishing. It was wildly underpaid and definitely overworked, but it gave me enough reps to get a sense of what people responded to online. It wasn’t just about being controversial, either; that helped, but a lot of it was about audience empathy and understanding who I was targeting.

Those tenets still live in my work today. For however silly “What time is the Superbowl?” was as an example, I certainly took something from it and made it my own.

Also, the Super Bowl isn’t for 364 more days.


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