Google – Focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps

Seriously?  Sometimes I really hate what the world of SEO and SEM has become.  In a recent Google “hangout” [just threw up in my mouth a little], dude asks “is link building in any way good?”.  The response from John Mueller is pure Google:

That is a good question.
In general, I’d try to avoid that.

So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.

We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.

Everyone knows that the biggest ranking factor is links.  That’s why SEOs have been preaching links for the past decade or so.  Unfortunately, in the eyes of Google, if it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, than it is obviously linkspam.  Seriously, it’s starting to feel a bit like William Bligh with Google being the HMS Bounty.

This just exacerbates the entire problem with SEO.  If you reach out to people and ask for links, you’re seen in the eyes of Google as a spammer.  Never mind the fact that this is the core responsibility of any PR department.  That’s right folks.  Google has taken an entire industry and told them that they are nothing more than a bunch of black hat spammers.  Which of course is funny considering the fact that Google has over 40 job listings under the category of PR.  He who has the gold makes the rules I suppose.

Full disclosure on this – I haven’t been actively reaching out for links in years (personally or professionally).  We build pages that we feel have good information.  If people link, so be it.  If they don’t, so be it.  And yes, I actively review, prune and manage by disavow list. I no longer have the patience to try and decipher the cryptic “instructions” that the PTB at Google provide.  Penalties suck and Penguin penalties super suck, so SEO has turned from a game of trying to improve your rankings to trying to avoid penalties.  Awesome.

Posted in SEO Crap.

McDonalds – I’m Really Not Lovin’ It

Oh McDonalds, you’re so out of touch.  In the history of bad ideas in advertising, this is absolutely in the Top 5.

If you didn’t catch the ad on the Super Bowl, it goes a little something like this:

  • Go into McDonalds
  • Order food
  • Ask how much you owe
  • Get told to call someone/hug a stranger/do a dance/etc
  • Try to pay with cash
  • Have the checker insist that you pay with whatever they choose from the Wheel of Humiliation
  • Try to pay with cash again, this time more venom
  • Have the cashier tell you that you were randomly selected to pay with lovin’, so you have to pay with lovin’
  • Do whatever monkey grinder trick they ask of you so you can get your crappy sandwich and get the hell out of McDonalds

Here’s the long format ad:

I can see how this went in the meeting:

EVP Marketing: We need something huge for our Super Bowl ad.

Minion #1: How about we give away something free to random people?

EVP: That’s good, but we need a hook.  It’s been done before.

Minion #2: We need to find a way to get people talking.  You know, like that “Share a Coke” campaign that everyone loved.

EVP: Great thinking.  What can we do that will make people love our brand again?

Minion #1: I’ve got it!  How about we randomly give food away to customers.  When they try and pay, we tell them that it’s on the house.

EVP:  Not good enough.  It needs a hook!

Minion #2: I know!  How about we tell them that they can only pay by “spreading the lovin”.

EVP:  What are you driving at?

Minion #2:  Ok, hear me out.  Guy orders his food.  He’s ready to pay and we tell him to call his mom instead and tell her that he loves her.

EVP:  Now I’m Lovin’ It!!!

Minion #1:  Um, what if we do this and the customer’s mother is no longer alive?

EVP:  You’re overthinking it.  This is a great idea!!

Minion #1:  Ok, well what if the customer doesn’t want to participate.  Can he just pay for his food?

EVP:  What do I pay you for moron?!?!  He HAS TO participate.

Minion #2:  Yeah stupid!  It doesn’t work unless everyone participates.

Minion #1:  All I’m saying is that you’re likely to encounter customers who just want their Big Mac and would rather pay with cash than do a stunt.

EVP:  Do you even KNOW our customers?  Why are you even here?  You have no idea what you’re talking about.  This idea is gold!  It’s gonna be bigger than that Coke campaign.  Get with the program kid!

And that, my friends, is how a horrible idea goes from concept to reality.  No one likes forced participation.  No one likes to be treated like a trained seal for their food.  Especially by the counter guy at a fucking fast food chain.  And if you ask me to call up my dead mother, I’m gonna reach over the counter and punch you in the face.

For the record, yes, I do realize that writing this will cost me my dream of ever getting to be a marketing yes man for Mickey Dee’s.  I can live with those consequences.

Posted in Advertising.

Finally An Anti-Smoking Commercial That Doesn’t Suck

Generally speaking, I hate all the anti-smoking campaigns.  They are filled with shock which rarely translates into positive results.  They are so over the top that either they make people turn the channel or they simply insult the viewer’s intelligence.  It seems that the FDA has finally figured it out with their “Real Cost” campaign.

The campaign did not start out strong, focusing on the shock value of a teen doing something like, oh I don’t know, pulling a tooth out or peeling skin off of the face of a teen to pay for a pack of smokes. You remember this piece of garbage, right?

They released a series of these and they were nothing but the same shockvertising crap that’s been trotted out for years. Then, someone figured it out. They decided for once to not talk down to teens and created an ad that actually treats them like adults. So, for the first time ever, we now have an anti-smoking campaign that doesn’t completely suck. Kudos to the FDA for finally figuring it out and getting it right.

Posted in Advertising.