On average, 70% of content above the fold relates to breaking news rather than ranked results, according to a study released Tuesday. Search engine marketers don't typically think of breaking news as an opportunity to serve up paid-search ads or rank higher in search queries. It's difficult to plan for news that marketers can't control, and text ads do not typically serve up alongside breaking news stories.
The study aims to help business-to-business marketers and online publishers understand differences in the rankings on search engine page queries for breaking news, and use this knowledge to rank higher during these times to increase Web site traffic.
Bing and Google have their respective proprietary algorithms that serve what each considers the most important and relevant results. A new study from search and social media marketing company Optify examines how engines serve up content related to breaking local, business and worldwide news events. It highlights the changes in structure of the content served up on search engines, and provides insight to marketers on how to optimize it.
The study examined the tsunami that hit Japan, the resignation of the late Steve Jobs, and Amanda Knox returning to Seattle. Optify, which typically supports B2B clients, identified keywords for each event that would drive the highest volume of results and conducted the searches on both Bing and Google.
Google and Bing treat breaking news a bit differently. While Bing seems to favor most recent results and MSN.com favors serving results just a few seconds old, Google favors authority and reach, serving results from publications, according to Optify.
For searches during a normal news day the search bar serves up first, followed by sponsored, organic, and universal search results. Sponsored results will appear down the right rail. For searches during a breaking news day the search bar appears at the top, followed by placed, universal, and organic search results. For both type of results, the fold appears directly above the universal and organic results.
Optify CEO Brian Goffman suggests that marketers need to think like publishers during breaking news events. Best practices include using video, the top format content when breaking news occurs. Syndicate it on YouTube or other video-sharing sites. Use social networks and make it easy for people to interact with the content. Remember that search engines pull in social content from Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Continue to update content. The search engines value fresh, new content. Although marketers can't prepare a keyword strategy for breaking news events, they can train the SEO team to act quickly and focus on larger categories.