3 Ways To Drive Blog Traffic From Major News Events
By adriarichards on July 12, 2011
Tupac's alleged killer comes forward after more than 10 years. Now what?
People are hungry to find out the latest developments on big news stories and turn to Google, YouTube and social media to find it. If you can post a timely and interesting article, you will be sitting pretty to receive an enormous amount of traffic.
How do you find the hot topics people are talking about online and attract new visitors to your website?
John Chow recently shared a case study of how his own blog received nearly 20,000 views on a blog post he did about the motorcycle tv show, Choppers. He's a fan and did a writeup to test a theory he had and it worked! Now you may not always be watching a hit show and think, "I should blog this," but you can use freely available tools to find trending topics of interest and today I'll show you how.
I worked with a client today who requested a blog evaluation. I offer these via my technology training site, Freshworkshops.
As with most bloggers, Patricia was looking to get more visitors to her site. She's only seen a few hundred in the last six months and was feeling frustrated. She felt she had so much to offer yet the traffic just wasn't registering in her Google Analytics. She also wanted to be ready for a blogging conference she'd signed up for and what better thing to share than how well her blog was doing?
After going over my standard blog checklist, we talked about ideas and strategies for upcoming blog posts.
What's Being Searched For Online?
You do your site a disservice if you're not paying attention to what people are looking for. One of the easiest ways to score "blog gold" is to join the conversation on a big new story around a major world event.
This can be anything from celebrity deaths like Michael Jackson and J.D. Salinger (who wrote Catcher in the Rye) to political scandals like Anthony Weiner's schwang being all over the Internet and Norm Coleman's donor database showing up on Wikileaks to disasters such as plane crashes, tsunamis and earthquakes.
And let's not forget the assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US forces which gave Mashable, a site known for sharing the latest news about social media, its highest traffic day... EVER!
Mashable is an extremely popular site with an estimated 30 millions views per month. This makes it one of the most visited websites and blogs on the Internet but, as you can see, even they were able to benefit from talking about a major news event such as the death of Bin Laden. Now some found it in bad taste to do this. There's a great post by ParisLemon called, On Bin Laden Killing Tech Blogging which talks about sites such as Mashable completely leaving their core focus to game search keywords.
1. Google Trends
One of your first places to visit is Google Trends. You can see the actual search terms people are using plus do specific searches to find the volume over the last few days, weeks, months or years.
Stay ahead of the pack. This tool allows you to gauge which terms in the wild are building momentum and you may be able to write about something before others have a chance to if you can see a good connection.
2. Google News
An excellent place to look through news articles being published on major sites is Google News.
Crowdsource your story. Here we can see CBS News, the Washington Post, Slate, MTV, MSNBC and The Smoking Gun have all written articles. Here's where you will find additional details you can add to your article, create citations from and link back for potential link love. You can filter by specific sources too.
3. Google Realtime
Sometimes a news story is just so hot that you need to be watching social networks such as Twitter for play-by-play updates, links to photos and blog posts. That's where Google Realtime comes in. In addition to seeing a stream of Matrix-like updates, you can see the popularity of the keywords as well as top links.
Live in the moment. Sometimes the story will unfold before your very eyes, and you can capture the origional storytellers without having to pay expensive monthly fees for tools that monitor Twitter.
Now before you start asking why I'm only highlighting these Google products, step back and ask yourself...
If Google is the top search engine on the planet and you need to find out what's going on now, doesn't it make sense that Google knows when a story is hot off the press and where that search traffic is going?
Case Study: Tupac The Baby Boomer
So working with Patricia, and her blog being about aging baby boomers and what they can do to age with grace and wisdom in this fast changing world, I decided she had a golden opportunity today to blog about Tupac.
Well, if he had lived, he would be 40-years-old today. According to Wikipedia, Baby Boomers are considered those born between 1946 and 1964 so although Tupac would have been 7 years shy of being an official boomer, let's admit it folks, 40 is a big life milestone and around the corner are baby boomers!
Now what are Patricia's options to bring together Tupac and baby boomers in the same article?
- They both worry about their "chronic" joints.
- They both have older parents they think of fondly (Dear Mama).
- They both worry about dying before they're ready.
So as you can see, Patricia has a lot of opportunities to throw in facts and jokes connecting the two! I advised her to cite websites such as the Mayo Clinic, CNN and Science Daily to add credibility. Don't worry, Patricia's Brown like me. I probably wouldn't advise someone of a different race to do something like this unless they were already a big fan of Tupac's music.
Update: Here's Patricia's blog post: Three Things Tupac Shakur Will Not Have To Deal With As A Baby Boomer
Blog Quality Checklist
Above I mentioned some standard things I look at when reviewing a website or blog for usability and traction.
Here are a few things on my blog quality checklist I look for when helping clients and companies improve their SEO, traffic and blog engagement:
Navigation. What are your tabs saying about you? Do you have enough content on them to earn a spot in your navigation? Does each item create value for the visitor?
Post content. Do you have an image to draw the reader's eye? Is your article written in an easy to understand way vs complex "walls of text?" Do you ask the reader to engage with you?
Sidebar. Can visitors access your recent articles easily? Are your social media and RSS icons near the top? Is there a picture of you and are you smiling?
Social media sharing links. Are there icons which allow for sharing of your content? Can people tweet and like your content?
RSS reader syndication. Are you using Feedburner for your RSS feeds? Is there an icon or email subscription box above the fold?
I had a runaway hit with one of my blog posts that brought together a political scandal around website security. My blog post landed me an interview on the Rachel Maddow show plus several interviews with NPR, Computer World, the Associated Press and both newspapers in the Twin Cities and has positioned me as a subject matter expert on business technology.
Remember, Google doesn't care what your blog looks like and neither do your readers using RSS tools. That said, your blog should be neutral or easy on the eyes, but please don't spend ridiculous amounts of time tweaking the look. Instead, write tight, interesting content people find valuable. An analogy would be getting dressed up and then sitting at home on your couch. Get out and go to interesting places and you'll get noticed!
Once you've written your article, there are things you can do to promote it but I'll save that for another blog post.
I know you can experience the same success if you're strategic about where you pay attention online. Go after the stories that hit home for you because you'll write with such a passion that your post cannot be ignored.
Are you using all of these Google tools?
If not, which one are you going to start using?
What news story topic are you going to start following for your next big story?
Adria Richards is a technology consultant located in San Francisco, CA. Adria blogs at ButYoureAGirl.com about technology, web apps and her life as a technology consultant and posts helpful and easy to follow tech videos on YouTube. Want to boost your productivity? Contact Adria to to learn about the right technology for your business.
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