According to WordTracker, there were thousands of Brett Favre-related searches during the past three months. That’s not surprising, given he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and a near-certain Hall of Famer; though, considering his bratty behavior of late, could his status be in doubt? 😉
I routinely conduct keyword research to determine what search queries people typically use on a given topic. That’s par for the course for run-of-the-mill search engine optimization. But in many cases you’ll want to position yourself more strategically for searches based on current and usually fleeting topics, which often means breaking news.
In most cases, you simply optimize for the most logical keywords people would likely use to find information on a breaking story. In such cases, having an idea of typical search behavior during such situations and a knowledge of search trends comes in very handy.
For example, when people are frustrated or angry, they tend to take those emotions out on the search engines by appending ”I hate…” or ”sucks…” to the subject of their search.
On July 21, I posted a photoshoppped picture (created by Cory Hollenhorst, a web developer at Meta 13) of Brett Favre in a Vikings jersey for a fake cover of Sports Illustrated on my Twin Cities, Minnesota blog and watched the traffic spike enormously.
Search engines favor blogs over Web sites for a variety of reasons, one significant reason of which is the fact that blogs typically publish continuously fresh content.
The title of my post was Brett Favre In A Vikings Uniform On The Cover Of Sports Illustrated; notice I used all the relevant keywords: brett favre, vikings uniform, sports illustrated cover. The post was immediately picked up by the search engines.
From July 21 to July 22, people have found the post using 86 different search queries that were variations of "brett favre in a vikings uniform" and "brett favre sports illustrated cover."
Web site traffic to TwinCitiesMinnesotaBlog.com from 7/21/08 to 7/22/08:
That spike in traffic occurred in large part to top search engine rankings for relevant phrases. The first purple, visited link is to my blog post and the second visited link is to my Flickr account where I uploaded the graphic:
We Vikings fans, of course, are endlessly amused by how the whole Brett Favre saga is playing out. After years of enduring announcers gushing over the guy (I’m talking to you John Madden and Joe Buck), and after the annual media tease that is Brett Favre’s will he or will he not retire, we’re perfectly happy to see him lay waste to his legacy.
This is a Google Trends chart showing search volume for the phrase "brett favre" from 2004 to present. I’ve highlighted the little annual spikes that occur around March, April, or May when Drama Queen Farve plays his media tease.
Search Volume & Retirement Spikes For "Brett Favre" from 2004-2008:
Finally, as of this writing, my Flickr page with the Farve photoshopped graphic has been viewed 280 times; 25% of that traffic came from Google, 24% from my Twin Cities Minnesota blog, and only 4% came within Flickr itself.
The most important point to take away from this exploration of a search surge is the important role that a blog can play in capitalizing on quickly developing situations, such as I did with my Brett Farve post, or, as you can imagine, as a rapid response vehicle for crisis communications.
But to take advantage of it, you need an established blog in the first place.