Google likes quality content but the term ‘quality’ can be difficult to define – useful, amusing, shareable, grammatically accurate… perhaps all of the above.
However, changes at Google HQ may mean that marketers can glean a tiny insight into a specific type of search engine friendly content: news.
Google has updated its Trends tool (which identifies how often specific keywords, subjects and phrases have been queried over a specific period of time relative to overall search queries) to take into account more real time data, YouTube searches and Google News.
Some search gurus are speculating whether the timing of the Trends upgrade, alongside Google’s recent algorithm update, which some believe benefits news sites, is not just a coincidence.
If this is the case, and the Google machine is indeed trying to better understand the search data around breaking news stories, then there is a really strong argument that all content marketers should take a break from their well-planned content schedules and be a little more reactive – aka piggy-backing the news agenda.
In practise this means that content creators need to be given the flexibility to devise blogs, articles, videos and inforgraphics etc. that respond to current affairs. This doesn’t mean regurgitating existing news content in parrot fashion but it’s more about putting your own slant on the news: how would your customers expect you to react?
If you’re a B2B marketer then don’t switch off – this applies to you as well. Previously, Google Trends wasn’t great on niche topics but following the upgrade, it will apparently cover a broader number of subjects in more depth. Good news indeed as far too often, the ‘not enough search volume to show graphs’ response was returned. Therefore don’t think that if you’re in a very specific industry sector that this doesn’t apply to you – Google may be more able to understand sector-specific news than you think.
Try to draw your news from a variety of sources – not simply a couple of obscure industry titles that could qualify as Have I Got News For You guest publications. Think broadly about where your company, your clients and their clients (if B2B) source their news. Don’t forget that everyone individually is a consumer too, so that head of finance who you’d like as a customer, may have a national newspaper, a consumer magazine and industry trade press all on his or her desk simultaneously.
Timing isn’t everything but it nearly is. Unless you are somehow involved in the breaking news story then your response is going to be reactive and that doesn’t matter in itself. What does matter is if you’re the last person to the table. Imagine arriving late to a dinner party where guests have been chatting for a while about a breaking news story. Once you get there conversation has moved on and you’ll only be able to join in, if you’ve got something new to say or or an unusual opinion on the matter.
They key is either to ride on the crest of the wave and be one of the first to respond to an issue or piece of key news, or if for various reasons you’ve missed the boat a bit, then make sure your reaction stands out from the crowd.
Ideally be first and be different.
Evergreen content, the stuff that stands the test of time and will be as useful to your potential clients today, tomorrow and next year, is all still very valuable but with the recent changes at Google, it’s worth shaking up those content marketing plans to include more news-related material.
This may require a little lateral thinking to make the link from mainstream news back to your company or it could even involve more senior management time – particularly if the content creator is expected to deliver an opinion or point of view on behalf of the organisation. However, the result will be quality content that if repeated regularly should earn the attention of search engines and your customers alike.