The Simple Way to Get to the Top of the SERPs Quickly and Drive Traffic to Your Site

by on April 23, 2012 · 29 comments

Search Engine BiasEveryone wants more traffic.

Getting to the top of the search engines has never been simpler…

Wait, what?!

Are you serious? Did you not see what Google did to blog networks with their latest search ranking algorithm change?

And what about the Panda updates?

If anything, it’s getting harder and harder to get to the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Yes, thousands of sites were affected by these algorithm changes. But these were sites that took the easy/lazy and sometimes sleazy way to get traffic.

Besides, what I said was that there is a simple way to get to the top of the SERPs, not an easy one.

A strategy that’s simple in concept, but not easy in execution.

It’s the difference between knowing how to do something versus actually doing it.

So what is this simple concept for getting traffic?

Tap Into Increased Search Traffic Generated by a Breaking News Event

Not long ago, I wrote an article about newsjacking, or what I now call leverage marketing.

Basically, you pay attention to what’s going on in the news that could be relevant to your business. You then create a piece of content primed at attracting journalists and reporters who need quotes, details, or insights from an expert for the story they’ll be writing.

Reporters write about the breaking news and put you in the second paragraph. Now you’ve injected yourself into the conversation. In return, you benefit from the traffic generated by media coverage of the breaking news event.

The difficulty with leveraging this type of traffic is, of course, the unpredictable nature of breaking news.

What is undeniable is that when there is breaking news, there is a big surge in searches for that news.

But how do you tap into this source of quick and heavy search traffic?

By taking advantage of the search engines’ bias towards breaking news.

How Search Engines Treat Breaking News Differently

Optify, an inbound marketing software company, did a study on how search engines treat breaking news events. And they came up with some very interesting findings:

  • The format of the SERPs is different for searches done on breaking news events. In addition to natural-organic results, the SERP also rendered “placed results” (i.e., videos, images, news, social media, books, and blogs).
  • On average, about 70% of prime real estate on the SERP (above-the-fold) is used for these placed results.
  • Placed results appeared ABOVE natural results. (Ding! Ding! Ding! This is your opportunity to rank above long-standing organic search results and grab a piece of the search action.)
  • Google vs. Bing: In their news results, Google favored sites with more authority and reach while Bing favored sites that have more recent contents.

How You Can Leverage the Breaking News Bias to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

Knowing that search engines push natural-organic results down in favor of placed results when there’s breaking news, you should create content in as many formats as possible (i.e., videos, images, social media, blog posts, Google+ posts, etc.). This will increase your chance of appearing in the placed results section of the SERPs.

And knowing that Google favors sites with more authority and reach, you must continuously build your authority through content marketing and develop your social network to increase your reach to target customers. With Google now rendering even more personalized results, this is more important than ever.

But in order to take advantage of the breaking news bias in the SERPs, you still have to keep constant tabs on what’s happening now and create content tailored to relevant news.

Don’t you wish there was an easy tool out there to help you with that?

Well, there is…

Free Content Marketing Tool: You’ll Never Have Trouble Coming Up With Content Again

The Next Web just came out with an article (CSGT: The Holy Grail of content marketing?) about a great Content Strategy Generator Tool.

This FREE tool:

  • Gives you up-to-the-minute information based on relevant keywords you input;
  • Helps you see/follow trending news;
  • Allows you to move more quickly on breaking news;
  • Provides you with instant cross references;
  • Lets you know the questions people are asking about your market/product; and
  • Enables you to identify content needs.

With this tool, there’s no more worrying about what to write. Just let the market tell you what it wants. Use it to stay ahead of the curve with the freshest content.

Add your unique perspective to it all and you have the winning formula for driving more traffic to your website:


1 Sue Donnelly

This is such a timely article for me. Having released a new website just a few weeks ago. Not being a ‘techy’ individual, the best way to get increased traffic has always been one of complete overwhelm. Should I do it this way or that way? Thank goodness for sensible, realistic advice. I’m onto it immediately.

2 Jeanne

Increasing traffic is an issue for us all, so you’re in good company. I find that taking bite-sized advice and implement one at a time makes it much less overwhelming, at least for me. Congrats on your new website!

3 Nadine Nicholson

Jeanne, I agree with Sue. This is also a timely article for me. You have a way of making techie stuff understandable. Thanks!

4 Jeanne

I’d spent a long time getting rid of lawyer-speak in my writing, and now I have to constantly watch my tech-speak. So that means a lot to me. Thank you, Nadine!

5 Shanna Mann

Does anyone really use Bing? I see lots of marketers talk about it, as if Google isn’t the only game in town, but I really don’t understand who uses it.

Simple! you say. This is just me blowing smoke, I don’t have business model this relates to, but I gotta wonder about the ROI on a marketing activity that requires you to be always plugged in and flipping articles like that. It’s too much stress for me!

6 Jeanne

According to the latest figures, Google’s got 77% of the market while Yahoo’s #2 with 11.56%, and Bing is #3 with 9.59%.

I personally never use Bing, but the study is relevant in how search engines in general treats breaking news differently when returning search results.

I agree that this strategy is not for everyone. But for many internet marketers who are online for much of the day (like me), it could be worth the extra effort. Again, while the concept is simple, this strategy is by no means easy to execute. But for those up to the challenge, the payoff can be substantial.

7 Chris Nadeau

This is an excellent post! Thank you for taking the time to create it, educate us and give us something to take action on. Love it!

You just made my life easier!

8 Jeanne

Thanks, Chris. Glad to hear. Do hope you take action on it and let us know the results. Cheers!

9 Chris Nadeau

Took action…used the tool to find some information on Google+ and found this gem of a video from College Humour which we shared on our FB Fan page

Will use it more in depth for my next blog post. Thanks again!

10 Jason Anthony

Outside of becoming the breaking news story yourself – this is definitely a golden nugget for internet marketers or those with business or messages that relate or catapult off of the current news cycle.

I could even see this tool helping to create content on the social media platforms so that you stay up to date and engaged with what your customers are (or in this case – will soon be) talking about.

11 Jeanne

Yep, this tool will help you stay ahead of the curve. How would it look to your customers if you are not on top of the news happening in your industry? To be a market leader, you cannot afford to be perceived as out-of-touch with the marketplace.

12 Hector Avellaneda

I remember your post on leveraged marketing, Jeanne! To be honest, I was not at all aware of changes within the Google algorithm. Goes to show how in tune Ive been with SEO lately.

I think it’s great to have tools to help us be more efficient and do SEO but you know what Jeanne, sometimes I think that there are so many tools out there and short cuts for doing things that content is sometimes sacrificed in efforts to leverage these resources.

Dont get me wrong. I love anything that will help me be more efficient but every know and then, actually more often then not, I prefer to do the research myself because it helps me gain a better understanding of the topic I am researching and it helps me identify more with what y readers are looking for.

13 Jeanne

The tool is a means to an end, and it’s only as effective as the extent to which a user chooses to implement it.

If content is “sacrificed in efforts to leverage these resources”, then that would be the fault of the content writer, not the tool.

I’m all for detailed research, but there’s really too much going on for us to keep up with all the latest and greatest. That’s why we are drawn to certain websites/blogs…they act as curators (as Jackie said) of information. It’s a way of narrowing the field. Once you have the general information you want, then you drill down the specifics.

For example, I came upon the study mentioned in the post through a Google Alert I’d set up (a tool). It led me to a blog post (curator) detailing the findings. And through this “curator” I went directly to the source where I can read the actual study myself. When I write my thoughts down in this post, I’ve in turn become a curator for my readers.

14 Hector Avellaneda

Great points! Hadn’t looked at it that way.

15 Jackie

Piggybacking is nothing new, but in the online world the speed and sheer volume that you have to wade through is phenomenal.

Mainstream consumers look to curators, that is just a fact. In effect we do this with our own websites. Providing our view of information to our readers.

I’ve just been and read the other article, and downloaded the spreadsheet and ran though a few keyword searches. This tool is freakin awesome.

Even if you don’t specifically want to be bleeding edge with newsjacking, used as a current content search tool, for referencing in your posts, or for niche content creation its brilliant.

Thanks for the heads up on this one Jeanne, I will definitely find this useful.

16 Jeanne

Exactly. To cut through the noise, we look to sources we trust and respect for information. And each of us are curators in our own right within our circle of family, friends and colleagues. Yes, the tool is useful for so many things. It’s both a time-saver and idea generator. Thanks, Jackie.

17 Christine Marmoy

Whaa, Jeanne, I love that tool, just tried it and it is really amazing, thanks for the tip! I agree with Nadine, you have a way to explain complex notions while motivating the reader. Yes, you’re right getting on top of search engines is becoming a challenge, however I believe that with every challenge comes innovation like this tool. Just in 5 minutes test, I got at least 3 good ideas. Thanks again.

18 Jeanne

That’s awesome, Christine. And thank you. Glad you got instant benefits out of it. Just goes to show u that a tool is only useful if you actually use it. 🙂

19 Allan

Hi Jeanne,

This is a great piece. I never really saw breaking news as a means to get a great ranking. Piggy-backing on a trend is a golden opportunity if you could come up with the relevant content on time.

The use of different mediums (i.e. video, blog posts, social media etc) is something to consider even in the regular course of blogging. One medium might rank better than the rest (i.e. video vs a blog post)

Thanks for sharing!

20 Jeanne

And I would hazard to guess that if you can quickly produce/upload a YouTube video on the breaking news, your chances for high rankings are even better (less competition given that most people will write about it as opposed to doing a video).

Taking it to the next level… post the YouTube video on your Google+ updates (fast indexing) and you have the Google trifecta: YouTube, Google+, Google SERP.

21 Bobbi Emel

Hey Jeanne,

This is a really helpful post! I hadn’t really thought about newsjacking as a means to increase search engine placement rates. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention!

22 Denise Loughlin

Very helpful and well written -thanks for the post!

23 Peter Sandeen

Hi Jeanne,

Valuable thoughts 🙂 and a valuable tool.

I haven’t heard about the placed results, that’s interesting and very promising 🙂 And I’m just starting to create videos… Maybe I’ll create some about rising news and see what happens…

24 Ryan Hanley

Thanks Jeanne… Great stuff!

Another good way to stay on top of what Google is tracking is the “Trending Topics” on Google+.

You’re certainly not the first person to write something on the topic at that point but at least you know Google has prioritized the Topic.


Ryan H.

25 Jeanne

Or, you can use Google Trends to spot RECURRING trends. By using the date filter, you can look back in time to see what was the Hot Search for a particular date. There are popular searches associated with annual holidays, anniversaries and events that you can anticipate for. And if you type in a search term, you can really see how it has changed over time. Thanks, Ryan.

26 Steve Baines

Awesome post Jeanne – and thanks for the link to that free tool 🙂

27 Lisa Montanaro

Hi Jeanne – Really interesting post. I plan to use the tool and am fascinated by the idea of taking the piggy backing to the next level. I agree with you that you have to be a news provider. How would it look if you had no clue what was going on in your industry! Thanks for the tangible advice. I plan to try it!

28 Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca

Verrrrrry interesting post, Jeanne (and thanks for the tool!)

I think what it comes down to is, “search” engines aren’t really about “searching”, they’re about Delivering Highly Relevant Solutions, and they’ve been evolving that way more and more.

And that means that when mass consciousness is focused on something, so are SERPS 😀

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