Using Google News And Google Alerts To Spark Content Ideas
Whatever you think of their privacy rules, the right to be forgotten, or the latest Panda update, Google is a massive repository of information. Scouring Google for data no longer means that you are restrained to viewing pages and pages of text. Instead, you can search through rich data including the latest hot topics on Google Trends. In this post, we will cover the use of Google News as a source of content inspiration for your website.
Google News essentially curates content from a large number of websites, and displays the results to users. The news site is topically sorted, so that you can choose a generic topic like business and view all of the latest stories, or you can search using the usual Google search parameters and operands. It is possible to ensure that you see only relevant search results by excluding specific terms and words, so you only have to see highly relevant results.
If you’re seeing a lot of results about a specific story, and want to remove this from the results, you can use the “-“ operand. For example, if you want to see results for “Facebook” but wish to exclude anything to do with the potential censorship of the social networking site in Thailand, you can enter the search term “Facebook –Thailand”.
Searching For Relevant Topics
Keywords are arguably the most effective method of searching for anything on Google News, or on any Google site for that matter, and mastering operands will help you to search more effectively and more efficiently.
Use your primary keywords, and draw up a list of secondary keywords. As well as searching for “social networking”, you can search for “Facebook”, “Twitter”, and more precise terms like “social networking trends” or “social networking statistics” to get a full list of relevant stories, and to ensure that you aren’t missing out on a gem of a topic that hasn’t yet been saturated.
Which Topics To Cover
Almost regardless of the industry or topic that you cover, and no matter how well you use operands, Google News is likely to present you with a large amount of results. Some topics, like social networking, will provide you with page upon page of news stories that have been covered by other sites.
Google attempts to group stories together (although this doesn’t always work as well as you might hope), and then display a summary of the top result for that story, along with a list of a few other sites that are covering the same topic. Below this list is a link that reads “Explore in depth” with the total number of related articles in brackets.
The key to choosing the right topic is to find a relevant and interesting topic that hasn’t been covered by thousands of other websites, but will prove valuable to your readers. Relevance and competition are always important in marketing terms – relevance will ensure that your readers enjoy your content, and are more likely to share it, while choosing less competitive stories means that those same readers will be less likely to have already read the story elsewhere.
Creating Your Content
Simply regurgitating a story you’ve read on BBC News, or any other site, won’t provide the long term results you want. Develop your own voice, cover your own angle, and make it as relevant as possible to your own niche. Your readers may not care about the impact that the censorship of Facebook in Thailand has on Facebook itself, but they may be interested in what it means for businesses attempting to conquer a global marketplace using social media websites (they may not, of course).
Create something highly relevant and appealing, include images where required, and introduce your own narrative voice. If you can turn the content into something more unique, such as a slideshow, a video, or an infographic, then you can create two pieces of content to publish, share, and promote your site.
Rather than having to scout Google News every time you want to create new content, you can set up Alerts. Doing so means that you will be notified whenever something new, that meets your search criteria is posted.
To do this, simply click the “Create Alert” button near the bottom of the search page. You will be presented with a number of options to modify your alerts:
- Search query – This will be prefilled with the results from your search. It is usually better to conduct your own search on the News page, and then click through to this section, leaving the Search Query section exactly as it appears.
- Result type – Choose between Everything, News, Blogs, Video, Discussions, and Books. For the purpose of using Google News to find content inspiration, you should choose News, but the Blog Alert function can also prove useful and may be worth some experimentation.
- Language – The majority of readers here should choose English, but there are many available options.
- Region – Any Region is the default choice, but you can specifically choose results from the UK, the US, or virtually any region in the world. Consider where your readers are from to determine the most relevant information that you can use.
- How often – Bear in mind that there could be a lot of news stories posted on a particular topic, so we would recommend against using As-It-Happens unless you are having your results delivered to an RSS Feed display. Daily or weekly are your alternative options. Remember that news needs to be delivered in a timely fashion, so daily should usually be considered your best option.
- How many – You can choose to see all results or just the best results. Only the best results may filter out some of the spam and a lot of the repetition, and this is the option we choose when setting up a new alert.
- Deliver to – Choose an email address or Feed. The feed option actually disappeared for a while, but if you are looking to hit breaking news stories, then this is your best option. Alternatively, a daily digest by email is convenient and enables you to look at the content at your own leisure.
By setting up alerts using relevant and targeted search terms, it is possible to enjoy a steady supply of regular content inspiration. You don’t need to hunt down topics or stories manually, and can instead enjoy access to some of the latest topics delivered straight to your RSS feed reader or email Inbox.