There was an interesting post yesterday on TechCrunch about the use of Google Trends to drive editorial.
Apparently, a number of publishers are leveraging the data from Google Trends to find hot keyword trends, and taking advantage of the blazing speed at which Google spiders new content on blogs and content sites to produce content catered specifically to those hot keywords.
There are anecdotal reports that some publishers are driving substantial amounts of traffic using this technique.
Of course, there is some debate as to whether or not this technique is appropriate or "ethical."
This got me thinking and I decided to weigh the pros and cons.
* Google Trends enables publishers to find hot topics that may be timely to address.
* Determining what your audience is interested in today is often a difficult task for publishers so Google Trends can help deal with this challenge.
* What publisher can ignore the appeal of lots of traffic from Google?
* Producing content solely to take advantage of keywords can lead to uninspired, poorly-written content.
* Just because a trend is hot doesn't mean a publisher has anything interesting to say about it. This might lead a publisher to simply regurgitate content from elsewhere.
* It's easy to get carried away. While it's great to piggyback on hot topics, basing editorial decisions around Google Trends in the extreme can distract from producing good, authentic and original content.
So what should publishers do?
In my opinion, there's nothing inherently wrong with using Google Trends to stay in touch with what's topical.
But some common sense should be applied:
* Quality still counts and publishers cannot sacrifice quality - no where the inspiration for content comes from. After all, quality is usually the most important contributor to a publisher's brand.
* Value needs to be added. If a publisher brings nothing of value to the table (exclusive information, a different perspective, unique insight, etc.), he or she should think twice about posting content just to take advantage of this technique.
* Pick and choose. Using Google Trends on a daily basis to drive editorial is probably not a good idea. Instead, publishers should pick and choose their spots, taking advantage of hot topics only when those topics fit in with what they're already producing.
I'd love to hear from publishers using this technique or publishers who decide implement it. Feel free to leave your comments.