How newspapers SEOed Patrick Swayze’s death

When news breaks, if you want to do well in Google for relevant searches, publish early, publish often and put your keywords at the front.

The Guardian's Patrick-Swayze tag page

The Guardian's Patrick-Swayze tag page

From an SEO point of view, the more stories you can pump out targeting different (or even the same) keywords, the more chance you have of appearing at the top of Google’s search results – and scooping up the traffic.

Get it right, and you can appear twice in the web results – and twice in the news results that Google often shows above them for breaking-news-related searches.

Some of the newspapers may have taken this a little bit far with news of Patrick Swayze’s death

  • The Guardian published 15 stories today (Tuesday 15th), all available from its existing Patrick Swayze tag page. Do we really need 15 stories on this?!? About half had a title that began with ‘Patrick Swayze’.
  • The Telegraph published 10 pages, and while it doesn’t have as many tag pages as the Guardian, it did feature one of its two obituaries (here and here) as a link from its ‘hot topics’ list on its home page, giving it a boost in Google’s web-result rankings. The screenshot, below, shows that it may have run out of ideas to get to 10 pages – the two bottom ones shown are very similar. Also, nine out of 10 of these stories have a title beginning with ‘Patrick Swayze’. The other is just called ‘Dirty Dancing – time of your life’. Now that is front-loading keywords.
  • The Mirror pumped out 5 pages today, and also set up a tag page at some point during the day (they didn’t have one before lunch), hoping to target the searches for ‘patrick swayze’ (yes, they forgot to capitalise it in their haste to set it up). The titles of all 5 begin with ‘Patrick Swazye’.
  • The Independent published 4 pages.
  • The Times managed just 3 pages – maybe with a paywall coming they are less interested in SEO these days ..
  • The Sun published only 2 pages.
  • The Mail published just 1 massively long story – on top of its  existing tag page for the actor. Interestingly, the paper recently claimed it wasn’t interested in celeb stories to drive traffic (although I claimed Michael Jackson was behind its June ABCe success).

The papers weren’t all that successful in their SEO efforts.

The 4th and 5th most viewed stories seem a little bit similar ...

The 4th and 5th most viewed stories seem a little bit similar ...

US sites dominated Google’s results for a search on ‘Patrick Swayze’ and ‘Patrick Swayze death’. The Telegraph did though take the top two web search spots for a search on ‘Patrick Swayze obituary’.

Keith Floyd has also died – and it was a similar story in terms of volume of stories. The Telegraph, for instance, has published 8 stories and the Guardian, via its tag page, published 9. The Guardian pipped the Telegraph to win the results for a search on ‘Keith Floyd obituary’.

If you ever want to target what people are searching for around breaking news, I recently compared the different Google tools for a search on X-factor related terms. And if you want to see SEO taken to the dark side, check out this method of newspapers and paid links.

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7 thoughts on “How newspapers SEOed Patrick Swayze’s death

  1. Pingback: links for 2009-09-16 | Joanna Geary

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