Very clever SEO hack: naming winter storms

Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)

As we sit on the morning of a lot of snow, I was thinking about why The Weather Channel (TWC) even bothers to name winter storms. It’s not a convention anyone else uses, and it doesn’t measurably improve the forecasting.

What does it improve, then? TWC’s SEO – by quite a lot. Go Google for “winter storm Nemo”. Who owns the prime position? TWC, of course. But that also takes advantage of Google’s rumored (but officially neither confirmed nor denied) co-citation algorithm, the one that says even if you don’t link to TWC’s page on the storm, Google will associate the terms TWC and winter storm Nemo together and give TWC a bump in rankings if enough credible sites mention them together.

And because of the nature of keywords, who do you suppose owns the first position for “winter storm”? TWC. Look at the quality of the incoming links and citations, too. MIT, Yale, and area colleges refer to the storm by name and with links, nice .edu domain placements. Tons of credible news outlets leveraging the AuthorRank algorithm. And almost every town in Massachusetts, using their harder-to-get-links-on .gov domains.

If there’s a repeatable phenomenon in your industry or vertical that you can own in the same way that TWC has now effectively owned winter storms, there’s a bounty of search marketing rewards waiting for you. Find a way to capture one, and you’ll see your inbound links explode.


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