News and current events are an increasingly useful means of attracting traffic to a website or blog. Provided their power is harvested correctly, it is possible to piggy back off the popularity of top news stories or current event coverage. This existing human interest can be converted into a tangible spike in traffic numbers and website page counts.
Those tasked with writing new content on a regular basis for a blog or site will know that it isn’t always easy to find topics to expand upon. Often, there is a real dearth of original ideas, leading to content simply for the sake of adding a new page to the site for SEO purposes. This can be off putting to the reader and have a detrimental impact on traffic, losing the interest of readers and driving them elsewhere. Too much poor quality content reflects badly on a web site and can give the impression of a sub-standard organization, even if exactly the opposite is true.
Tapping into existing interest in the form of news and current events is therefore an ideal solution but, there are a few considerations to take into account and a few tricks of the trade to master before taking the plunge…
1. Finding a usable source
There are lots of online news outlets, with all the major national newspapers and even most town or regional publications having a web version. There are also news pages from each of the major search engines, with Google and Yahoo! being the most notable. TV news stations such as CNN also have their own online versions, giving plenty of choice and easy access to the day’s breaking news. Finding a source that you can work with and effectively utilize for content and traffic purposes is harder.
A large site such as CNBC or CNN can be invaluable for topics requiring a lot of research but, may well prove to be a distraction on a day to day basis when there is so much news to churn through. The abundance of content on sites like this can lead to a needle in a haystack situation, where it takes forever to sift through an expansive library of stories before finding an event that can be repackaged for your own site purposes. Hours spent reading headlines and being drawn into longer reports is counterproductive and will leave little time for the news piece to actually be shaped into usable website content.
If you don’t routinely read the news or have a favorite news website that you are already familiar with, finding a usable source to act as a starting point for content ideas will be an exercise in trial and error. It’s worth spending a few days returning to one source before then switching and trying another to see what sits best with your own research style. If your industry is extremely niche, it’s worth developing familiarly with at least two separate outlets in order to give a deep enough pool of inspiration from which you can source story ideas.
2. Developing a nose for news and a taste for trends
Determining what stories are the most popular takes time to learn but developing an understanding of what the most popular stories are is a real asset as this will allow you to cherry pick the most popular of the day or week’s topics. This serves as your starting point for writing a related news story or blog post to access some of that traffic for your own site or blog. Picking stories with no real interest level will restrict the potential traffic to your site as there won’t be enough sustained interest to make a difference to your visitor numbers.
The point of using news items and current affairs as an inspiration for content is to draw traffic and visitors as well as easing the creative process for those who have to write website copy every day. However, this process will fail to satisfy on all counts if relevancy is not injected into the resulted material.
Most news stories at the top of the Google News pile or breaking news on CNN won’t seem at all relevant to your company or product lines at first. The key is to look at them with objective eyes and identify ways in which you could make them relevant for your site. Using a breaking news topic as a kick off point for the newest piece of site content is a fabulous way of showing how ahead of the game your company is – this only works if you can make the news story tie in to your particular industry. Being able to see the opportunity a particular news story presents for you is a case of practice makes perfect but, over time will start to become second nature.
Some examples – A Panda is born at Atlanta Zoo, the only one this year in the USA. This could be a starting point for a keyword-rich article about pet insurance or pet accessories, or used as a hook for a news item on a bar, hotel or restaurant website for any business in the Atlanta area.
Google has settled a privacy lawsuit related to its Buzz product for $8.5 million – This could be a starting point for any internet firm or law firm or even companies providing privacy-related services such as security.
The more specialist your services or specific your keywords, the harder it will be to work them into your news story rewrite – finding the relevancy and focusing in on it will make this task easier and help to avoid undermining the quality of your site or blog by forcing keywords into text that is off topic.