One of the most common recommendations a web consultant will make to a client is for a site to maintain a blog for generation of quality, on topic, keyword rich content. Anyone reading this article has most likely written more than their share of Top Lists, How tos, and purposefully controversial articles but it seems many bloggers overlook what could be one of the tastiest link candies of them all: the humble news report.
In a world where Google’s idea of ‘Article Freshness’ is becoming an increasingly important factor in determining a page’s value it is critical that blogs remain current, timely and on topic. Posting a relevant news item on your blog isn’t just one of the easier posts you’ll ever compose, it will also demonstrate to your users that you have your finger firmly on the pulse of your particular niche.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Jacob, who do you think I am, Walter Conkite? I don’t have any insider information or access to my own private news chopper! Who would possibly come to my site’s blog for their news?” Rest assured I’m not suggesting that by posting a few timely news articles your blog could necessarily become the news authority on “cars” or “boots” or “widgets.” But I’m here to tell you that a well-timed, well-pumped, under-reported news story can nab you a ton of links for a minimal amount of effort.
There are several ways to generate news related to your area of expertise. The first and most obvious option is to simply skim a highly targeted news aggregator for under-reported stories that may be of interest to your niche of readers. There are often several stories with only one or two sources (more mainstream sources have hundreds) that you could easily cite and reblog for a quick, informative, timely post rife with target keywords. I’ve received several links from blogs citing my news blogs’ articles along with the original source if they happened to read the story on my page first. You can also follow the major blogs in your field by grabbing their RSS feeds or letting sites like alltop do that for you.
To that end you don’t have to be first, second or even third with your news. You can acquire links, retweets, Facebook shares and +1′s by simply being one of the several sites that happen to be reporting on a news story. Followers of your blog may not have seen the news item and depending on the juiciness of the scoop they’ll be more than willing to pass the knowledge along in the form of a social media share or better yet, a link. This is where strong relationships with bloggers, news outlets and other influencers will be worth their weight in gold. You can even push the article to other news sites that haven’t yet reported the news. Send them a friendly, personal email with your link and you might be surprised at the responses.
Another option for news generation is to rework the mundane title of a news post to speak more directly to your particular area of focus. Imagine a massive news organization conducts an interview with Sean Bean and in that interview he reveals that he will return in Game of Thrones Season 2 (keep dreaming, people). The news organization’s title is probably something of a snooze-fest such as “Our Exclusive Interview with Sean Bean.” As a web marketing specialist and Game of Thrones fan you think to yourself “Wouldn’t a more appropriate and link-bait-tastic title for this article be something more like “Sean Spills the Beans on Game of Thrones Season 2″. Of course you can’t just copy & paste their content on to your blog but it’s perfectly acceptable to quote the most relevant segments, write your own beefy commentary, and properly cite the original article all under your new (better) title. Make a list of titles to choose from while your wife is watching the latest season of Real Housewives.. you’ll be amazed how much work you can get dome.
“Okay, Jacob I’m willing to add a news article or two to my monthly blogging regimen. I mean, it sounds easy enough and if it can get me links and shares once in a while it’s certainly worth the easy post. But how do I stay ahead of the curve?”
That’s the easy part my fellow blogger. In the past I’ve simply kept a few bookmarks to various Google News search queries on my toolbar. For example a car dealership’s blog may want to stay abreast on the latest car news. Pull up a Google News search for “Ford” or “Lexus” and skim for interesting tidbits that you wager others may find interesting enough to share. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether or not you, as an renowned blogger in your field, think that this story would be interesting enough to pass along to a friend. You can narrow your news search within Google to just blogs to find more obscure items to reblog or spin in whatever direction you see fit. You should probably be following the latest news in your industry anyway so if you’re already doing so than this part should be particularly easy. If your blog becomes newsy enough you should even consider submitting your site for consideration in Google News yourself.
To be perfectly clear, I would never recommend simply copying an article you’ve found on another site. In fact, that’s a rather horrible idea. But if posting news that has already been reported by another news agency is bad form then why are there 6317 articles on last night’s Giants game? Or 1647 articles reporting Heidi Klum and Seal’s divorce? The internet is an echo chamber of information and as long as you properly cite the original source and/or the sources you used to form your site’s take on the news then your white hat will remain firmly in atop your head.
You can also gain this same effect by keeping old pages fresh. A schedule page that is updated regularly, a staff page that always has the latest– it’s not clear how Google deals with this vs. a clean, new page but we can say for sure that Google checks for these updates regularly as old pages are crawled often as well.
‘Freshness’ is a relatively new term in the SEO world. Google is now using recent events and hot topics to help determine which sites will be taking the top slots in SERPs. Adding news articles to your blogging rotation will send signals to the big G that your site is timely, relevant and fresh.
Posting timely news articles isn’t just a simple way to add relevant, fresh content to your blog, it also has the potential for generating links, tweets and shares due to the immediacy of the moment. You’re also providing a valuable service to your users. They don’t always catch every news item but you, as an authority in your area of expertise probably will so why not leverage that knowledge by reporting on relevant, on-topic news items?
Breaking News: The offices of Distilled USA have convened at the company’s corporate headquarters in London for what has been affectionately referred to as ‘Distilled-a-thon’ 2012. The New York and Seattle teams have joined their London colleagues for a week of team building, collaboration, and to continue our never ending quest to perfect ‘The Distilled Way’ of web marketing. If you happen to be in the London area and want to chat just stumble into the closest pub and there’s a good chance you’ll run in to one of us.
If you’re a talented, smart, web marketer who knows how to ‘get shit done’ and you want to be a part of this world-class team, Distilled New York is expanding and looking for SEO consultants with experience. Cheers!
Jacob Klein Webmaster, SEO Consultant at Distilled and Sociable Geek.