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Newsjacking for SEO: The Complete Guide

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Lava lamps. Bellbottoms. Mullets. Tamagotchis. Pokemon. Fidget spinners. 

What do all of these things have in common? Well, firstly, you’ve probably heard of most, if not all of them and secondly (and the reason why you’ve probably heard of them), these were all huge trends at one time or another. 

But as always, these trends come and go and make way for new obsessions, but one thing is for certain, no matter how quickly they came and went, they definitely had their 15 minutes of fame. Why are we telling you this? Because the success and popularity of trends like this are similar to what has become known as ‘newsjacking’ and looking at it from this perspective can make it easier to understand.  

Newsjacking can really help towards the search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts of your business and can make your content to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) if utilised correctly. How? We’re here to tell you. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what newsjacking is, how it is done and how it can benefit your SEO. 

What is newsjacking?

The term newsjacking was coined by David Meerman Scott and in his book (of the same name) he describes it as “the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed”.

So in a nutshell, newsjacking is talking about something popular or trending by creating content around it and sharing this online. This is used to bring attention to your business and often comes in the form of an opinion piece or sharing thoughts and updates on breaking news stories. It’s essentially piggybacking on a trending topic. 

How to get started with newsjacking

If you hope to use newsjacking to your advantage, you need to know how and when to do it effectively. Below, we’ll look at several steps you can use to help you get started with your newsjacking journey and tips on how to make a success of it. 

Identify the right stories 

The first important thing you need to do is to identify the right stories. Although you might be keen to get started and to utilise newsjacking, you can’t simply jump on any and every story that comes along.

Instead, you need to make sure you’re choosing big news stories that you have genuine opinions or thoughts on. You also need to make sure you’re keeping it somewhat relevant to your business. This is why you can’t just jump on everything. 

Use the right tools 

There are several tools that will help you to stay on top of the latest trends and to find the stories that are most relevant to you. These include: 

  • Using Google Trends to monitor breaking news
  • Using Google Alerts for a similar purpose but you can set up your own specific keywords 
  • Using social media tools such as Sprout or Hootsuite to monitor social media
  • Following journalists and other spokespeople who cover news and stories related to your industry 

Watch for trends 

Using the tools discussed above (and you may also find other helpful ways of tracking the news) you can keep an eye out for trending ideas and materials. Social media is going to be an important part of this, it will help you to monitor relevant hashtags or keywords. You can then use these when creating and sharing content to join in the conversation and get your content seen. This will also help with your rankings, but more on this later in the article. 

Newsjacking must be done at the right time 

We’ve briefly touched on the fact that you can’t just jump on any and every story that comes along, but here we’ll discuss how to get it right. In order to do newsjacking well, you must have a good understanding of the breaking story and subsequent information. Otherwise, you might find you misspeak or misunderstand what has happened in a bid to get your content written and shared before others. This can reflect badly on your business and brand.

So for maximum results, you want to quickly get clued up on the news item and get in before the story reaches its peak. You can then create your content using relevant keywords and hashtags. Search engines tend to feature articles on trending stories at the top of SERPs, so if you need links for your content you can find them here. Get on this at the right time and you might also find your content ends up higher on these pages.

It’s just important to remember not to leave it too late. Traffic for trending stories can be competitive so getting your content out there as quick as possible is key. Not to mention the news cycle moves fast, so if you leave it too late after the story breaks, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself at the top of the search results.

How your SEO efforts can benefit from newsjacking

Newsjacking can be tricky and it might take you a while to get the hang of it because it requires a lot of attention and awareness. Plus you have to be very tuned in to the news and any breaking stories. However, once you’ve had a bit of practice and you get the hang of it, newsjacking can be very beneficial for your business and for driving traffic to your content.

Some of the key benefits of newsjacking include:

1. You can rank for important keywords

One of the biggest benefits of newsjacking is that you can increase the number of keywords that your website is ranking for. This is particularly useful if you’re ranking for some of the top keywords related to your industry.

As a story unfolds and gains traction, search traffic for related keywords explodes and search engines like Google are more likely to feature articles containing those trending keywords. As such, if you’re able to optimise your content early on, the more keywords and phrases you will be able to rank for, helping to boost your SEO.

2. You can get backlinks to your site 

Competition for traffic is tough so the faster you act the more likely you are to be seen by search engines early on. Then, if your content is ranking well and others see that you’re getting involved in the conversation, they could link back to your content for reference. 

This is great for SEO purposes as search engines take backlinks into consideration when ranking your pages. That’s because this can show whether or not your content is trustworthy. 

Essentially, the more backlinks, the more trustworthy your website, so this can help you to rank even higher. It’s essentially a happy circle. You’ll be acquiring backlinks naturally and they’ll be from high-quality domains, so no need to worry about the pitfalls of harmful backlinks.

3. You can boost your social media engagement

By using keywords and hashtags, alongside commenting on the news story and getting involved in conversations with others, you can encourage engagement on your social media channels. This can lead to more people sharing your content, which in turn can help to boost your SEO. Social media plays a big part in SEO as it is a quick and easy way for people to share and link back to your content, so encouraging engagement in this way can be very beneficial. 

4. You can reach new audiences and drive traffic

By having your finger on the pulse and reacting to big news stories as quickly as possible, you can attract attention from a wider audience. This can help to drive higher levels of quality traffic to your webpages. 

This once again contributes towards your SEO efforts in a positive way as search engines are more likely to trust websites with higher levels of quality traffic. This means they’re more likely to rank them higher on SERPs. 

Not only this, but reaching new audiences is obviously good for businesses as this could encourage more sales or sign-ups to your services or newsletters. 

5. You can build your brand 

Though this one is not strictly about search engine optimisation, it is certainly a huge benefit of newsjacking and can have a knock-on effect on traffic, engagement, backlinks and other aspects that could impact your SEO. By successfully using newsjacking and aligning yourself with trending topics and stories, you can help to build your brand awareness and get your name out there. 

This can be done by commenting and sharing your opinions on important news stories and joining in with larger industry conversations. This can position your brand as an industry-leader and knowledgeable source. It shows that you’re tuned in to your industry and you know what your customers and followers want, you’re actively sharing opinions and content that you think they’d be interested in.  

Your newsjacking to-do list 

We’ve touched on how you can get started with newsjacking and the tools you can use to help you identify relevant trends and stories. That said, it doesn’t stop there! If you want to really get the hang of newsjacking you’ve got to understand the full cycle and what strategies you can use to make this a seamless part of your marketing and SEO efforts. 

To help you out, we’ve put together a to-do list of the most important steps you should take. So if you want to utilise newsjacking for your SEO, here’s what you need to do:

  • Put a strategy in place for monitoring breaking stories: You need to get a strategy in place to allow you to monitor breaking news stories. Use some of the tools we mentioned in the ‘getting started’ section of this guide. 
  • Pick the right story: As we said, don’t just go for anything that comes up, be careful to pounce on stories that are relevant to your industry in some way or that you know will be so important to your customers/readers that you absolutely should make a comment. 
  • Get clued up: Do your research so you know as much as possible about the breaking story. This will allow you to write a more informed piece of content. 
  • Create your content, quickly: Then you need to act quickly to create your blog post, article, social media content, video or graphic – whatever your chosen media may be. This way you can try to beat out your competition by getting your content out there and ranking first. 
  • Try to be different: Traffic for trending stories is already competitive and you don’t just want to do the same as everyone else or people will lose interest. So try to inject your own angle into your content and do something different. 
  • Publish your content: As soon as it’s ready, get your content out there on your website, blog or social media. 
  • Share your content across different channels: Next, you need to share your content as far and wide as you can. The quickest way to do this is to share it across your different social media channels. For example, put a post out on Facebook and Twitter. You could also share this on platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram depending on the nature of your content. Just be sure to use all relevant keywords and hashtags to ensure you’re part of the ongoing conversation. Usually breaking news stories will quickly generate a related hashtag that you can use. 
  • Contact journalists or relevant media outlets: If you want to get your content out there even further and get more backlinks, why not directly approach journalists or relevant news outlets to let them know about your content. They may choose to use this in their own work, link to it or share it on social media. 
  • Track your engagement: Lastly, you can use social media management tools or social media insights to help you track engagement. This can help you to see what worked and what didn’t so you can keep this in mind for future newsjacking campaigns.

About the author


Stuart Cooke

Stuart is the Digital Marketing Manager at MyBaggage.com, luggage shipping specialists helping students all over the world. He writes on all things student, finance and marketing.