News search terms vs. web search terms

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land has written a detailed analysis entitled “The Lies Of Top Search Terms Of The Year” that provides another explanation of why the top news search terms for 2006 don’t match the top web search terms highlighted in press releases issued by Google, Yahoo, AOL and other search engines.

According to Danny, “The short answer, as I’ve written before, is that they are all heavily filtered. That’s why you don’t see popular terms like ‘sex’ and ‘porn’ and navigational queries like ‘google’ showing up.”

If you are trying to figure out which news search terms to use in an online press release or news article, Danny’s column also offers an advanced SEO tip that can help you quickly — and at no cost. He shows you how to use Google Trends to identify news search terms as well as web search terms.

For example, his first chart uses Google Trends to show the relative search volume for bebo, myspace, google, and sex. But, below that, Google Trends also displays a second chart showing the relative news reference volume for the same keywords.

Danny uses Google Trends to show the similarities and differences of other keywords — including bebo, myspace, world cup, metacafe, radioblog, yahoo, hotmail and amazon. If you use Danny’s technique, you can identify potential news search terms, as well.

Of course, I should offer two words of caution.

First, as Google Trends itself says at the bottom of a page of results, “Google Trends aims to provide insights into broad search patterns. As a Google Labs product, it is still in the early stages of development. Also, it is based upon just a portion of our searches, and several approximations are used when computing your results. Please keep this in mind when using it.”

Second, there is a lag of about a month in the Google Trends data. So, don’t use it to find potential search terms for breaking news. To do this, use either the Google Suggest for Google News or the Yahoo News “also try” feature. They seem to be much more up to date.

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