Search response to the Queensland Floods
Firstly our thoughts are with all those affected by the floods in Queensland, and especially those who have lost loved ones. To contribute you can go directly to the Queensland Government and donate to the flood appeal or the Salvation Army. If you are donating elsewhere, check out the scamwatch ACCC website to ensure your donations get to the right place.
Search interest is high
It is no surprise people have turned to search engines for flood information, with the highest volume from Queensland and then the ACT (Government?) and most looking for updates from the Brisbane City Council and flood maps. No surprises there. Google currently showing around 110,000 local broad match searches per month for the term “flood”
So the question is, how have the search engines responded, namely Google and Bing?
Google is on board and providing relevant flood information in the SERPs on a search for floods and related terms. Interesting that while there is currently numerous websignals about the floods online, Google still includes non relevant items such as references to a poem on the Wiki, a movie, a company and an agency with news and video results relating to the floods.
Ranking in position 1
Also a dedicated flood resources page showing resources, where to donate and news, which would have been manually created.
Search suggest is very on topic with 8 of the 10 suggestions on-topic, the others including flood facts and flood lyrics, while Related Searches has only 2 of the 8 related searches relating to the floods, sort of.
Image search is showing a combination of results, some relating to the Queensland floods, but has related searches showing:
So overall, while Google has recognised the event and provides relevant information to help those, it has not taken over the results completely, still providing around 20% -30% on average alternate results, as well as a dedicated resource centre.
Bing results tend to be slightly broader, with 2 results relating directly to the Queensland floods and no flood resource pages. Results included general information on flooding, a movie, a band, stain removers, a company and then weather. Only 2 weather related results indirectly related. Once the search term was changed from “floods” to “queensland floods” the results were more relevant but still focussed around weather and websites, not video, images and news as Google appeared.
Bings related search was more spot on with 2 suggestions unrelated:
Image search also rendered a mixture of results, some more relevant than others. Related search on images included the following:
Obviously there is a lot of content being generated in social media, formal and informal media (websites) and images and video relating to the Queensland floods. Google appears to have tied in a more local focus to these signals, while not completely changing, but largely changing their results to focus on local or Australian relevance with respect to the floods, and responding with a dedicated resources page.
Bing while taking in these search signals as evidenced by their related searches, appears to have a broader view of signals, reducing local relevance somewhat.