Friday, July 1, 2011...9:00 am

SEO Week: How to get top ranking on Google

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In the fourth of a series of videos on SEO and content strategy, Broadband Genie editor Chris Marling talks to UCA journalism students about how the broadband comparison site pushed a news story to the top of Google’s search results, and used a well-tagged image to draw 1,500 visitors to the site in one month.
Story case study: Government scheme – free laptops on benefits

Last year, the government announced that 270,000 families would receive free laptops and a free broadband connection to help them at school.

As soon as the Broadband Genie editorial team noticed it, they got the story on the site very quickly.

“The beauty of speed on the internet is that Google News loves you to be quick. If you get a story up on your site very fast, you’ll rank straight away in the top three or four Google News stories.”

Site stats: March 2010 saw more than 1,000 hits on the story. The story ranked number 1 in Google search for “free laptops on benefits”. It also ranked well for “free laptops benefits” and anything to do with “kids disabled” – ranking it in the top 10. Even though the site hadn’t written that story as a draw for that audience, Google ranked it very highly.

“I don’t know if Google does it deliberately, but it tends to let one little site sit on its news list – so if you get up their quickly, you’ll be up their next to the BBC, Telegraph and Guardian. Some tech press story will stay in the top four. If you can get in quick enough and be relevant enough, that story can be yours and generate tens of thousands of hits.”

Story case study: Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2
Everyone was talking about Call of Duty online as the biggest online game ever – multi-platform and massive. But how could Broadband Genie get people to visit its site for that story? How did it make the story relevant to its audience?
The site took an editorial line of: “Broadband braces itself for Call of Duty” – the story was aimed at mums worried that it would break their internet if their son bought the game and 10 million people logged in at once.
Of course it wouldn’t have done – but the site could justify its need to tell people. Chris Marling approached talktalk, with 4m customers, and Virgin Media, with 3.5 million customers, to ask for a quote to reassure people it wouldn’t be a problem.
The story headlines are keyword-rich: “broadband” “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” (notice it’s the whole game title). Further down the story mentions “xBox”, “talktalk”, “Virgin Media” – these are all search terms that web users are looking for.

“We got 10,000 hits on the story because of that. And it’s a genuine story with information that people are looking for. We got real quotes from talktalk – but they were easy to generate with a 5-second email.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2The story went up in November 2009. It uses a screen shot of the game. It’s a legal, official screen shot, but when you normally see it on the web, the filename is a number – tagged 2165.jpg or something similar.

“All we did was tag it properly. We renamed it “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and also added alt tags using the CMS, so Google would spot it.”

Six months later, Broadband Genie got 1,500 hits in one month from Google image search and the site was ranking on the front page of Google images for that picture.
Key lesson: Make sure you tag your images correctly.


  • Really interesting stuff which starts to expand on the space between expert, expensive SEO strategies and common sense search approaches which build on the traditional journalistic principle of getting relevant terms in to attract readers. Plenty to explore here.

  • Hi Martin – glad you found it interesting. Still a couple more to come. SEO fortnight!

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