Earlier this week, Google News had some hiccups, and the site went down on Monday afternoon. The subsequent wrath of Twitter users may seem like bad press for Google, but it speaks to the popularity and importance the company's news aggregator site. Plus, it should indicate to internet marketers that there is a shift toward online news consumption, and that consumers rely on searchable news content to keep up with the latest industry trends.
In case you missed the brouhaha, here's the lowdown: On Monday, a fair share of internet users couldn't access Google News. Frustrated by their inability to search for the headlines they wanted, consumers started angrily venting their frustration via Twitter. (Twitter search results for "Google News is down" reveal a pretty diverse demographic of disgruntled news readers.)
A Google spokeswoman later told ComputerWorld that the company apologizes to its users. She explained, "Some users saw a server error message with instructions to try their requests again later. The issue has now been resolved." She claims the news aggregator site was down for less than 30 minutes.
It seems half an hour was too long for some consumers. One displeased German user broke the news on the microblogging site, expressing her upset and confusion, tweeting, "Google News [is] down!?" Other frustrated Twitter users tweeted things such as "Yikes," and one even took to an expletive.
Consumers' mounting frustration reveals that people increasingly rely on the search giant's news aggregator to find the latest headlines. One Twitter user referred to Google News as the "world's most popular piece of real estate" when the issue surfaced. Another made a powerful statement about how frequently he turns to Google for news, saying, "Google News looks like it's down & suddenly I feel all disconnected from the world."
The backlash against the site's temporary crash confirms Brafton's earlier reports that search engines are increasingly popular resources for news-gathering. Nearly one-third of consumers regularly use search engines to find news. Plus, more internet users turn to Google to get news than to the New York Times' site or the Wall Street Journal's site, according to a study from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. This all points to the idea that people want to search for news so they can find articles about specific industries and issues quickly.
So, what has this got to do with marketers? If you offer consumers quality content about the latest developments in your industry and optimize it so it can be found through search channels, you can bring traffic to your site by appealing to the "news junkies" on the web. And there are a lot of them.
Brafton has reported that ExactTarget says nearly one-quarter of U.S. consumers are news junkies – people who regularly comb the web for real-time news updates. They're reportedly open to supporting brands that sponsor news, "as long as the content is consistent with their interests." More recently, we've covered reports indicating that 79 percent of millennials get news content online, and that 75 percent of all online Americans look for news on the web. Hence all the angry Tweets when Google News was down.
There's a lot to be said about bringing the news advantage to your content marketing strategy, but one thing made clear by the recent Google News debacle is that news content is in high demand.