Written by Aaron Charlie– Wed 06 Apr 2011
Writing or blogging about trending topics can be a great way to generate traffic (and links) to your site, provided that your content is high quality and that you pick the right keywords to optimise on.
The second half of that equation can be the difference between loads of traffic and very little, so identifying what people want to read about (and more importantly, exactly what they are typing in to Google right now) is paramount. If you can be among the first to blog on a trending topic you can get your site on the front page of Google quickly, and bag the traffic (what's more if you're the first, you're more likely to stay on the front page longer).
So - "how can I find trending topics?" At Friday's BrightonSEO conference Malcolm Colesgave a very informative (and highly entertaining) presentation about how he used a variety of tools to discover trending topics when working on the celebrity news site HolyMoly, including some very interesting data on the searching habits of the Great British male!
Here are our video highlights from his presentation, along with a summary of the tools discussed (more information can also be found on Malcolm's site here)....
We've split the video of Malcolm's presentation in to two parts - the first summarises the News Search Tools used to identify Trending Topics. The second, which I couldn't resist adding, is an example of how HolyMoly used these tools to exploit the search term 'Karen Gillan Underwear', which reveals some interesting (and very amusing) trends in men's searching patterns after they've watched Doctor Who!
A summary of the News Search Tools mentioned is provided below, but do watch the video as Malcolm puts them nicely in to context with examples...
News Search Tools Summary:
Which of these tools you use will depend largely on the sort of content you publish...
AOL homepage(look for the green hot searches box) - This tool is more useful for keyword selection as it provides details of exactly the searches users are submitting
AOL hot search blog (ignore the slow-to-update picture box and look for the topic boxes further down) - Scroll down the hot search blog to find most popular searches by category - e.g. if you often write about gadgets you can see which are currently the most popular.
Google News provides a good summary of what's in the news that day - if its in the news it means that people have already written about it - you won't be able to compete with the major news channels (unless you are one), but you may be able to find an angle on one of these stories for a long-tail search.
Google Insights - A very useful tool if you're writing about an annual / regular event. You can use Google Insights to see what people searched for last time and optimise for those terms. Remember for annual events to include the year in your title (although this has been over-used for major celebrity events like Big Brother and is no longer useful for these).
Webmaster Tools & Google Analytics - These are useful once you're up and running to help you to make the most of the traffic you're already getting and refine your keyword optimisation. Silicon Beach run regular Google Analytics Training and Advanced Google Analytics Trainingcourses if you want to learn more!
Experian Hitwise Data Centre - always a week behind - top 10 searches in various categories on a weekly basis - good for establishing general trends but less useful on a day to day basis.
Surchur - Auseful tool that aggregates multiple sources together to provide "The dashboard to Right Now"!
Major Newspapers often provide useful indicators of what is most viewed - e.g. Guardian Most Viewed and Telegraph (has a 'most viewed' box on each category page and also 'hot topics' right at the bottom of the page.
The BBC also has a summary of the most popular seaches hour by hour on the site
So - there are some really useful News Search tools out there to help you identify what's trending - but what do you do with this information to ensure you get as much traffic as possible...
Here's Malcolm's highly entertaining summary of how HolyMoly discovered a pattern of men searching for "Karen Gillan Underwear", and what they did to ensure they used this to their benefit to obtain maximum site traffic when the Dr. Who Christmas Special came around.
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