Some things don't change. Search engine optimization (SEO) is all the rage, and for good reason. I'm certainly a believer. But I can also see that some of the real core factors are human nature as it always has been, before and after SEO was invented.
1. Who was it that said even bad publicity is good?
I picked up this interesting story from CNET today, in which a 36-year-old model tried to sue somebody for nasty, mean remarks about her on a blog, and ended up in search engine heaven. All the meanness happened on one day last August, and on one blog, which seemed to have been created for that purpose only. Then the blog disappeared. Until the model sued Google to get the blogger's identity.
The result: the model and the blog win. You're reading about them. And wouldn't have otherwise. CNET blogger Caroline McCarthy wrote:
Meanwhile, the search terms "Liskula Cohen" and "Skanks in NYC" skyrocketed to the top of (ironically) Google Trends, earning "on fire" ratings. Hey, considering that I'd never heard of Liskula Cohen before, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one, this might've been the best thing that ever happened to her.
Remember the old saying about even bad publicity being good publicity? I'm intrigued by the thought that she did the whole thing herself. Great publicity. But no, it won't work for you or me, if that's what you're thinking. This is one area in which being an original thinker really matters.
2. Words that Sell
I posted here a couple of years ago now about words I won't put in the title despite the temptation. It was a story of my old days in wire service journalism, 30-some years ago, and a list of words that made headlines more successful. You can guess some of those words:
He swallowed again, then started listing the words: "naked, violent, brutal, cruel, vicious, rape, clash, showdown, face-off, fists, bare, nude, stripped, fight … " I can't remember them all.
Flash forward to yesterday, I'm watching Twitter, and suddenly: Strange, I thought, why would Guy Kawasaki do that? Right there in Twitter, a link to GardeningNude.com? So I clicked, and discovered that despite that blog's misleading title, it's actually a well-done blog on environmentally friendly gardening, developed by a serious person, and offering serious content. Is Gardening Nude a search engine advantage? I bet it is. And I bet smart blogger Shawna Coronado knows it is too; is it coincidence that she awards a "naked gardener of the week" award every week? And the award is for good work, community service, and has nothing to do with clothes or lack of clothes.
Is there a business lesson in this? Yes, I think so. You can use some techniques cynically to get a quick pop — I mean I think so, actually, because in truth I have no way of knowing for sure that Gardening Nude gets more traffic than it would have if it were named something more descriptive. I'm just guessing.
There is the fishbowl problem that comes up when you get a lot of people coming to your site looking for something you don't have. Still … is that a high-class problem?
ps: thanks to Caroline on Twitter for that CNET article on the model.