New Optify Study Reveals How Search Engines Prioritize Breaking News

, a top inbound marketing software provider, released a new report yesterday that takes a comprehensive look at how Google and Bing factor breaking news into search engine results pages. Among the key takeaways was the discovery that an average of 70% of the SERP territory at the top of a page was reserved exclusively towards breaking news. When a huge piece of news, such as a scandalous incident involving an A list celebrity or a large natural disaster, starts making the rounds across the web, search engines will temporarily give priority to pages with fresh news content over those that regularly hold the top organic results. This information shouldn’t come as a jaw dropping revelation, however the report does provide a valuable perspective on how SEOs can best leverage breaking news to secure additional traffic.

What constitutes breaking news?

For the purpose of the study Optify examined 3 high profile news events that occurred over the past year, including a worldwide news event (the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011), a business news event (Steve Jobs stepping down from Apple on Aug 24), and a local news event (Amanda Knox returning to Seattle on Oct 4). In each of these cases Google and Bing were able to react quickly and funnel news to the top of the first results page. Unsurprisingly, the search results for the tsunami, one of the biggest stories of the year, resulted in a more aggressive display of news from both search engines as opposed to a smaller local news story such as Knox returning to her hometown.

Best practices for ranking with breaking news

The report includes a number of tips for using big news events as a traffic source. A few of the highlights include:

1. Using multiple types of content (text, images, and video) to increase your chances of being discovered.

2. Understanding that time is of the essence. Trying to jump on a news story days or even hours after it’s already been covered may not be worth the effort.

3. Making sure your site is being indexed as a news site.

4. Reporting on breaking news only when it’s relevant to the theme of your site.

5. Having the keywords you’d like to rank for already established before news breaks.

6. Keeping an eye on Twitter and trending #hashtags as a discovery resource for breaking news.

For complete analysis download the full breaking news study

Image credit: Johan Larss

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