you make news, either by being written about or by issuing optimized press
releases, you often find a headline link to your news or press release in the
news search results at all the major search engines. This can happen within
minutes of the news posting. Everyone gets excited. A keyword search of the news
finds you at position one almost instantly. Wow! Tell the client! Hurry! Then,
after a couple minutes, or hours, or days, poof! It all goes away. Even if
you’re lucky enough to have your news matriculate over the regular web search
index, your rankings never hold. News search is all about immediacy. Web search
is all about trust over time.
In a world where anyone can issue an "announcement" any time, and where any
"source" has the potential to make it into the engine’s news index, is being
found in news search results of any tactical value? Is it only useful if people
are searching a news engine using those terms during that window of time when
your announcement is considered "fresh"?
I’ve seen some announcements hang around Yahoo News or Google News for weeks,
due to their not being enough new stories to push them off the page. But some
only last a few minutes, like the
Britney Spears head shaved story a few weeks back. There was a new article
every five seconds, and each one lasted on page one for only a few moments.
So "timeliness" is the single biggest influence on the tactical impact of
news search inclusion or coverage. By timeliness, I mean a story about a tax web
site during tax season or flu shots during flu season. That’s when writers or
reporters or bloggers may be more inclined to be searching for timely content to
write about and hence use a news search engine to look for material. The irony
of news timeliness is that this is also when competition in the form of press
releases and editorial content is likely to peak, making it that much harder to
stick around the news search results long enough to matter.
Piggybacking or leeching on timely news is common as well, making it harder
still to have any lasting impact. How many companies and web sites announced
something related to crocodile hunter Steve Irwin in the weeks following his
death? Far more than probably should have. Even one was too many. When it comes
to news search, breaking news, good or bad, is a just one more chance for news
"leeches" to latch on and grab a few moments of ranking’s glory. Anna Nicole
Smith is dead? Announce a travel discount to the Bahamas immediately!
A better example is if an editor at the Wall Street Journal is writing about
529 College Savings Plans and he finds an announcement about your 529 college
savings plan web site while he’s doing some research via news search. If that
happened, then you have a shot at some really excellent third party coverage
that would generate significant traffic, and even a few links. But what are the
odds of that scenario happening? Slim.
Since we can’t know exactly who is searching for what type of story at any
given moment, we tend to go for the fire hose approach rather than the
sprinkler. More is better. Why issue one press release a month when we can issue
one every week? We can even announce our announcements! And after we announce
our announcements, we can then announce that we have finished making our
announcements, until it is time for us to make another announcement. Just make
sure those announcements all have deep keyword anchor links, too.
If we are going to be honest about the real impact of news search results,
then my take is being highly ranked in news search results only matters if the
right person is searching using the right words at the right time. One or two
days — or even hours — can be the difference between additional coverage and
links or crickets chirping in the dark, which encourages news spam which then
encourages even more news spam.
As a long term marketing and link building tactic, for most sites, the news
engines are an exercise in futility.
Eric Ward has been in the link building
and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from
linking strategy to a
monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers,
The Ward Report. The
Link Week column
appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.