Restaurant reviewer Lou Harry generally avoids using exclamation points in his writing: "I figure if the sentence is dramatic enough, the exclamation point isn’t necessary," he says.
To test this theory in restaurants, Harry’s devoting this month to visiting restaurants with exclamation points in their name, pronouncing Zionsville eatery Oobatz! more than worthy of punctuation braggadocio.
In blog posts, I’ve found, it is important to exclaim. There are at least two reasons for this. First, as I often stress, online searchers tend to be scanners, not readers. Punctuation, italics, and bold type are some of the ways to draw attention to the central point(s) in each post.
Friend and language expert Bill Alerding reminds students that any language develops initially in spoken form, only later evolving into written form. The function of punctuation, then, is to indicate the pauses, the intonation, and the emphasis that a speaker would communicate with his or her voice.
The second reason to use emphasis clues in blogs is to satisfy the "spiders". Search engine software indexing programs need clues to match up the content on websites and blogs with searchers’ needs. Google’s "goal in life",(as I heard it expressed once by local SEO maven Ken Zweigel) is to "crawl" the Web and say "Gotcha!" when it finds information most relevant to the search phrase entered by the user.
Of course, using exclamation points to "cry ‘Wolf!’" too often will nullify the effect. Lou Harry’s approach to restaurant reviews is actually very apropos for blogging – an idea has got to earn its punctuation!