Writing for your audience: Apple rumors top Google Zeitgeist for 2011

| Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Google has published a listing of their top keyword searches from 2011. Out of the 10 fastest-rising global search trends, Apple holds three spots. At number six was the iPhone 5, number nine Steve Jobs, and number 10 is the iPad 2. Other lists also have Apple products, including the iPhone 4S and iPad 3 on the Fastest Rising Consumer Electronics list.

There are a number of things we can take away from the findings. The first thing is that the general population is genuinely curious about what’s going on at Apple these days. That’s a great thing for Apple, and us, obviously. The second, and probably more important thing to point out here is that people eat up Apple rumors with an appetite that’s much bigger than the competitors’ audiences. Devices like the iPad 3 and iPhone 5, not even released yet, are on these lists.

If you’re curious why your favourite tech blogs are pounding out Apple rumor after Apple rumor, it’s because of these findings. People want the content. In a world where as much as 50-60 percent of a blog’s traffic can come from Google searches, it’s pretty obvious why blogs cater to the rumor crowd — there’s a huge readership looking for that content.

We try hard to avoid the inane rumors when we can, but we also share the ones we find most interesting from time to time. We’re tipping our hat here, and this is probably a bad business move, but I think it’s important you see how Google search results influence blog coverage. Below is a listing of our top keywords from 2011. I’d be willing to bet the same keywords are at the top of other major tech website’s keyword lists (minus Macgasm) based on the coverage they keep putting out. You can clearly see a relationship between what gets written about, and why there’s such a high number of articles devoted to these topics.

Our top 10 Keywords from 2011 (to date) from Google:

  1. iPhone 5
  2. Macgasm
  3. iPad 2
  4. iOS 5
  5. ipod touch 5th generation
  6. apple
  7. new macbook pro
  8. siri on iphone 4
  9. refurbished iphone 4
  10. (not provided) – we have no idea what that one means.

These 10 keywords were responsible for 2,014,787 visits this year, and we’re not even that big of a website.

Look at that list. It’s responsible for the majority of our search engine traffic in 2011. Basic blogonomics reveals that these keywords are also the most valuable. Traffic from Google sources have a higher likelihood of clicking on Google Ads. If you make it onto Google News with one of these keywords, you’re looking at a pretty substantial payout (about $100.00 for one 200-300 word article). If you’re a rumor-centric blog, and you get three, four, or five articles on Google News with one of these keywords, you’re looking at a pretty decent payout in one day. Have a team of five to six people writing about these rumors and you start to see how some independent blogs are paying their employees.

This is why rumor blogs are the biggest Apple blogs on the Internet. They’re playing the game of gaming search results, and they’re catering to their readers. It’s good business, but it’s also pretty bad journalism. As a reader, you need to ask yourself, are you a commodity or are you an audience?

As writers we’re always told to write to our audience. It appears that our audience is a bunch of rumour-mongers. Hell, I’m a rumour-monger. I love that stuff myself. But, there’s a fine line between giving people what they need and what they want. We try to walk that line as best as possible, but you can see why a lot of people just jump in off the deep-end and provide non-stop rumor coverage — it’s one of the only forms of independent blogging that actually pays the bills.

Just some food for thought.

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