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Searches are soaring! Or are they?

Searches are soaring! Or are they?

I recently received a press release claiming a new trend, backed by data. Regular readers of this newsletter will know that this is the kind of formula I enjoy. Except I don’t when the data is meaningless. Or, worse – when it’s incorrect.

Searches for a specific hairstyle, the email said, were up by 120% since the start of the year. Intrigued, I pinged a colleague who specialises in SEO to confirm the detail, and unearth more insights around the search – knowing that she’s achieve all this in a fifth of the time I would.

“So PRs seem do this a lot?” she replied, “and honestly most of the time I think they just make it up”. Oh. “Whenever people get PR emails like this and ask me, I’m like ‘nope’.”

Personally, it was the first time I’d come across such a discrepancy but have since noticed another. Days after, a PR sent a stat around that was widely over-exaggerated, followed by a brave email correcting the misdemeanour.

We all make mistakes, and I’ll admit that numbers certainly aren’t my forte, but we also all have a responsibility to fact check in the fight against fake news. If we’re not confident in putting stats out there, perhaps we shouldn’t.

When it comes to discovering popular search terms around a theme, and therefore demonstrating opportunities for SEO stories, at Hearst we use key word research tools like SEMRUSH, Answer The Public, Google Ads Keyword Planner and Google Trends. Many of them are free, or have free versions.

You might already be adept at using these. Or perhaps there’s a digi whizz in your team that is. If not, maybe your company offers training in data sourcing, or works with a specialist on projects involving that kind of thing. Either way, when bringing this kind of back up into your pitches, it can’t hurt to share verification; a simple screen shot of your research results, perhaps, or links back to the tool(s) used to gather data. From now on, to pique my interest in a subject, an evidence-based approach to stat sharing would prove 1000%* more successful. (Probably*)

What Bridget thinks…

“It isn’t necessarily something I’d cover, but this list of celebrity names we all mispronounce certainly has the click factor, and I read it right to the end. I wrote a feature listing the correct pronunciation of beauty brands a while back (eg Aesop = ee-sop!), and it makes me want to revisit it.”

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