Google referrals can help push web search results

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Some searchers will be totally ignorant (and rightfully so) to the planning and foresight that goes into a successful long term SEO strategy for news content generation. Many online newspapers and media publications must have a strategy in place for breaking news. Google has done a lot of work over the past year to serve up the latest results for a specific search term.

In this example I look at the recent announcement that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are to be divorced. This event occurred on Friday June 29th 2012.


First of all, lets take the UK’s leading newspapers online and see how they performed over that weekend for three highly popular keyword terms:

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise divorced in Google UK
Position movement within Google UK for  leading newspapers

Rather cynically we’ve been tracking ‘Tom Cruise Katie Holmes Divorce’ since 2009, so we have a vast amount of data on the event. Interesting, but unsurprisingly, The Daily Mail already featured in top spot for the keyword term before the event was announced!

The article was from February 2011 and focused on a day out for the family. The keyword ‘divorce’ was mentioned a number of times within the text which is the main reason why it ranked so well for so long, considering it was an extremely irrelevant and low competitive keyword term.

The Sun and the The Guardian performed well for their breaking news stories, whilst The Metro and The Mirror didn’t receive any organic exposure for this keyword term. Looking at the individuals themselves, again – it is the same culprits ranking on page one, especially when demand for the keyword is high:

Katie Holmes Google UK dates

Keyword positions within google uk for national newspapers for Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise Google UK dates
UK newspapers positon movement google uk

Again, The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Guardian obtaining most of the traffic for the ‘trophy terms’ from a newspaper perspective. This results do only take ‘web search’ into account. This means that Google news position fluctuations aren’t monitored, however – I do my own tracking and have come to the conclusion that if a website is featured within Google News for a significant period of time and receives a vast amount of clicks, this helps the article within classic web search.

I have a number of examples to back this up, however for now – I will use one for ‘Drake’ who was involved in a fight with Chris Brown in June. One key driver for breaking news is speed of delivery, how quickly can you get that news out to the public. We’ve seen The Daily Mail push both ‘Amanda Knox guilty‘ and ‘Amanda Knox not guilty‘ before as their strategy is quite obviously to achieve positions, even if the article is incorrect!

The Sun were able to push this story out early on and theme it accordingly to the mood of the audience. Keywords like ‘Drake’, ‘Chris Brown’, ‘Drake fight’, ‘Drake Chris Brown’ were targeted along with a vast number of long tail keyword terms. Here is the Google News listing for a ‘chris brown’ search:

Chris Brown Google News

You can quite clearly see the listing stands out amongst the rest due to the nature of the story. One of the key aspects of content generation and SEO is that you try and get inside the searchers head. What type of language will they be using? How do they associate the event with the people involved? When the story broke I did think it would be a big hitter, which is backed up by the Google insight chart below:

Drake and Chris Brown demand in Google over the past 90 days

This demand combined with the excellent organic visibility within Google News, resulted in a keyword ranking surge within Google UK (the chart below just highlights the keyword term ‘Drake’, however there were many more keywords that improved in positioning):

Drake position improvement

There is no doubt in my mind that the referrals from Google News helped to influence the web search positioning. So it is key to get your story out there as quickly as you can to obtain those click throughs, but I would advise that the content provided is accurate otherwise, you will be ridiculed and your reputation will be questioned.