Riding Google Trends to the Top
Michael Arrington says some sites are using Google Trends to guide editorials.
Google Trends gives you a snapshot of what queries are hot right now. Arrington says he’s hearing that more and more blogs, mainstream media sites, and others are tailoring their stories to the Google Trends daily summary to build traffic.
Let’s say I run a popular political or celebrity gossip site (two topics that pop up a lot on Google Trends). I look for hot queries that people are typing in right now, for whatever reason. Then I write a blog post, making sure to use the query term in the title of the post (which weights heavier for matching content to specific queries). The content of the article itself is mostly irrelevant, as long as your normal readers don’t gag on it.
Within a few minutes that content is indexed by Google, and the high Page Rank of the site along with the newness of the content pushes it up towards to top of the first page of results. Possibly all the way to the top.
We’re not talking about a trivial amount of traffic, either. One person I spoke with about this yesterday said he can get up to 30,000 extra unique visitors per day just by focusing content on top queries, which is more than enough to dedicate a couple of full time people to the effort.
I’ve debated (with myself) on how “bad” this kind of behavior really is. Sites that do this are clearly exploiting a weakness in Google’s search methodology, but it’s not like they’re engaging in black hat SEO tactics to trick Google into thinking their content is more relevant than it is. Rather, they’re just using their Page Rank heft and cheating a little on the edges.
I’m not going to say which sites I’m hearing are doing this, but you can check for yourself. If you see a headline that seems a little off topic or weird, followed by some very hastily written content, have a quick look at Google Trends and see if the exact query is in the title of the post or article. You may be surprised at who’s taking advantage of this.