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How Does Breaking News Affect Search Results?

Posted on 3.13.2012

Business-to-business (B2B) inbound marketing software provider Optify has released new data about the differences in the way that search engines react during breaking news events.

The study specifically looked at three hot-button news topics from the past few years: the Japanese tsunami, Steve Jobs' resignation as CEO of Apple, and Amanda Knox's return to Seattle after being released from an Italian prison.

Optify conducted the study by identifying specific keywords for each event that would drive the highest volume of results on Google and the Microsoft-owned Bing. The evolution and performance of these keywords were observed on each search engine over a period of time, and Optify found that to react to the news, both Bing and Google made dramatic changes to their search engine results pages (SERPs).

Both sites diminished or eliminated the presence of sponsored content, increased the amount of results containing integrated or multimedia content, and pushed recent news content to the top of the page at the expense of ranked results. Overall, about 70 percent of all the content shown above the fold was breaking news.

However, there were some expected differences. Mainly that when it comes to surfacing news results, Bing favors the most recent results and those coming from, also Microsoft-owned. Google prefers authority and reach and serves more results from "prominent" publications.

The study ends up concluding that organizations with higher authority and social reach tend to do better in a breaking news cycle.

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