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Whether it is the World Cup 2010 Games, the death of Osama bin Laden, the Japan earthquake and tsunami, or even the celebrity du jour, trending topics generate a tremendous amount of interest, and they can potentially drive an equally impressive amount of traffic to your site.  What is the best way to incorporate trending topics into your website’s content in order to increase your position in the SERPs?  And how do you keep from alienating your visitors?

The latter is fairly easy to do.  Think about the Huffington Post’s article entitled “Christina Aguilera Nude Pictures Leak (PHOTOS).”  Should one be curious enough to look, the post goes on to list dozens of tags, such as Aguilera Nude, Christina Aguilera Breasts…you get the idea, a few lines of content, citing an “anonymous friend,” a link to another article, and a heavy ad-to-content ratio.  Clearly designed to generate traffic, the article depended on a trending topic but didn’t deliver.  This is a lesson for any site which wants to increase search engine traffic via trending topics: make sure that it is relevant, and make sure you provide actual content.

The biggest rule concerning the use of trending topics in your website is to make sure you provide content surrounding them.  Sounds simple enough, but using popular search topics has the potential to backfire.  If, for instance, you manage to rank highly for the topic, “Royal Wedding,” but provide absolutely no news, no information, no entertainment value, or no real content, then your plan will have failed.  Visitors that did click through will be alienated, and they will waste no time clicking back out.  Do not use the trending topic unless you have something to offer.

Next, make sure the topic is relevant to your site.  Yes, Jersey Shore may be in the entertainment news a lot, and it may rank well with trending topics.  But that doesn’t mean your site, which features sports news, has to include bits and pieces of this “reality” show.  Again, you risk alienating visitors with an obvious attempt to game the search engines.

That being said, you can still incorporate trending topics into your content or blog in an effective way, even if you have to stretch the bounds of relevancy a bit.  Tie it into your field or industry; use humor or a creative link to the topic.  If, for instance, your site promotes locally grown, in-season food, you could mention that Kate Middleton and Prince William chose to have these types of foods served at their wedding and spin from there.

Trending topics can be remarkably beneficial to your site – just make sure that you use them well.

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