How To Newsjack For SEO

SEO Jun 25, 2013

The concept of “newsjacking” was introduced by marketer David Meerman Scott on his blog and book “Newsjacking

In essence, it’s this:

“Newsjacking: the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. It creates a level playing field—literally anyone can newsjack—but, that new level favors players who are observant, quick to react, and skilled at communicating.”

The idea is to increase traffic to your website and blog by being involved at the early stages of a breaking news cycle, right in after it breaks and before, or as, journalists are scrambling for more information — and especially before your competition.



Aside from the news factor and channeling any additional traffic, keeping your eyes on trending keywords and phrases that are related to your industry is a good habit to adopt. You could discover keywords early on that aren’t particularly hard to rank for, and you can get ahead of the competition.

How To Newsjack And Get SEO Benefits

The basic process is fairly straight-forward and simple, and David Meerman Scott’s own graphic gives you a good overview:


Where does SEO fit in, and how can this help you rank?

1. Monitor And Find News To “Jack”

  • Monitor keywords, phrases, and trending word clouds

  • Track journalists and media outlets that are related to your industry

  • Follow social media hashtags

Everyone has their favorite way of consuming news and content, but a standard setup to monitor and find news to tag on to is to set up an RSS feed using a tool like Feedly. Make sure you include industry specific publications as well as major news outlets. You want a mixture of market related news and those stories that you could potentially tap into.

As a story breaks, and in the ensuing hours, days, or weeks, you’ll come across a flurry of various long-tail keywords you can use.

Worth to keep in mind is that although the concept of “newsjacking” seems to be more geared towards the national breaking news cycles, you don’t have to employ it on that basis.

If you are working on ranking a website in a particular niche, you should pay attention to what passes as news for your audience.

Those news items could also have longer news cycles and could garner more long-term results than injecting yourself into a celebrity gossip news item that’s over within hours or a few days.

So, monitoring your own market and the news outlets you may have, but still keep an eye on the larger, more general news. You may find a way to combine them.

As for tools, you can use Google Trends to harvest and monitor long-tails and related search terms.


Once you have selected your story, go to Google Trends and search the event by entering it in the search box at the top of the page. For newsjacking purposes, the focus is on the Regional Interest and Related Terms sections on the lower half of the page.


The Regional Interest section graphically shows where the search is rising, either by geographical region or a specific city. There is a map view, which is the default and a list view of interest by city, in descending order.



Related Terms has a Top and Rising tab. The Rising tab is the one that deserves the most attention for newsjacking. This lists the change in growth for a particular topic as a percentage. Probably the most important term for newsjacking purposes is “breakout.” According to Google,  “when you see this term listed instead of an actual percentage (for Rising Searches), it means that the search term has experienced a change in growth greater than 5000%.”

Because newsjacking is another form of content marketing, you still have to capitalize on it with timing to make it a successful tool. Speed and creativity are critical, but content is essential. Quality content will have a greater chance of creating backlinks to your story, which will enhance your SEO results.


2. Create Relevant Content

  • Differentiate your content with an angle and spin

  • Aim for relevancy and accuracy

  • Mix and match content types

Aside from tracking down the primary source of the story, you should see what else is out there already (if anything — but this is the internet, there’s probably something!).

You want to latch on to the story but also add an element of differentiation. Don’t just re-hash what’s already out there — do it better, more, faster, stronger, different angle, more spin, less spin…you get the idea.

Once you have the topic and keywords, the content you create needs to have a direct relationship to the story and meet a specific news demand for the information you are offering.

The story should be researched for accuracy and content. This takes some time, so it helps to be well-versed in the topics you are newsjacking to get your content published as quickly as possible. But the rule is: content before marketing.

Make sure you do borrow quotes from the original story and use them as a basis for your content. Repeating statements as written can prove to be keyword and SEO gold.

Now that the content has been written and the media form (blog, audio, video, infographic) has been decided upon, it is important to understand how newsjacking ties in with SEO practices. The obvious answer to this are backlinks, fresh content, social media shares, and traffic.

This is where marketing and SEO blends (and this is happening more and more, any way), and where they should complement each other for the purpose of driving traffic and increasing rankings.

Again, the keywords are important because they will be anchor text in your blog or webpage and, combined with content congruency, contribute significant weight to the search engine results page. Content congruency is making sure the text that corresponds with your keywords is focused on the topic or subject matter of the story.

Going beyond mechanics to insight and experience, discretion in selecting what stories to newsjack is essential. Discretion comes in two forms: being sensitive to the audience’s potential response to the newsjacked subject and recognizing the connection between breaking news and its relevance to the blog or website.

Always keep your audience in mind and ask yourself what angle would interest them and how you can make it relevant.

3. Inject Your Spin & Story Into The News Cycle And Market

  • Blog your take on the news

  • Share on social media, use hashtags if possible

  • Directly contact a journalist who might be interested

When you publish and share your content, to really gain traction from organic search, you need to quickly share your spin and angle to your existing audience.

That means corralling the usual suspects, like social networks, emailing your audience, tapping other bloggers and news sites to share your content.

This is where you’ll find a good reason to reach out to journalists and other publishers, and use this as a basis to create a long-term relationship.

One thing to add here is to also consider this type of content when doing outreach to blogs and websites. You might not get the attention of a journalist, but you could probably make some topic and market related blogs very happy with fresh content.

Keep in mind, though, that a sloppy and tactless approach can be a disaster for your website and brand. Don’t make poor judgements, be selective, keep your angles and spin simple, direct, and relevant — and avoid sensitive topics or unfolding crises.

Don’t Look to Do This All the Time

You may not be able to newsjack every single story you come across, and you probably don’t want to, anyway — for credibility reasons. If you’re the website that cries “wolf!” every single time, you may find yourself ignored pretty soon.

This tactic will be most beneficial when your story offers a solution or informed opinion.

Serve your market’s need and desire for facts, news, opinion, and education — and you will find that you’ll get the links and brand mentions that you need.

  1. Avatar

    Even though the concept is relatively easy to grasp, I think putting this into practise can be very tough / energy consuming (is there anyone who has time to monitor all “buzz” in real time, and then act according to this list? I wonder if there’s anyone with some good or bad experience of trying out the technique. The closest I got, is to try to monitor all my unread mails in the morning, and try to post some comments on some interesting blog posts 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Rob Walling

    It can be time consuming, but so is blogging, content marketing, PR, etc… That’s the challenge of marketing approaches that are “free”…they cost you in time. It’s always a balance.

  3. Avatar
    David Meerman Scott

    Rob, Thanks for pushing these ideas forward and expanding our collective knowledge!

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