Please Can We Have a Link?

March 13, 2014

Links, for those of you that don’t know are these things. They send you to other places on the internet you don’t usually want to go. Kind of like a get-in-the-van-style neighborhood rapist.

Anyone in digital marketing, the McDonalds service job of the 21st century, will know how these work. Search engines (or ‘Google’ as they’re collectively known) are organised around them. The more of these babies you have pointing back to your site, the more you’ll show up half-way down the list of the search term you used to find something.

Basic SEO right?

That’s “search engine marketing” to you plebeians.

What 99.9% of the world’s population doesn’t know though is that these things have monetary value. Agencies will literally throw a whole load of virtual green at you just to get a clients link in an article on your site. Then they’ll ask you, in typical CIA-keep-this-under-wraps fashion, to shut up about it and tell nobody.

This, my friends, is how I’ve been able to live over the last couple of years.

The ‘Can We Have A Link?’ economy, to anyone NOT interested in making awesome-rad-epic-oh-my-god-I-just-climaxed cash from internet marketing, will be of scant interest. I understand you guys just want to find your cat videos and go home. I’m cool with that. Go do that now.

To the rest of you though, and particularly those wondering how I’m not yet homeless and covered in fox excrement, you might want to know a bit more about how this all works.

So, how do these people, those who bamboozle you with new-age jargon and verbal chicanery, live these lives of paradisiacal pleasure on the beaches of Southeast Asia and beyond?

Here’s the kicker. Most of the time it’s to do with winging, selling, organising, bartering or simply understanding what these little fuckers do.

And there’s no end to the amount of business models that effectively focus on this.

Take, for example, some of my travel sites you’ve probably never seen nor heard of before (unlucky for you huh?). Basically what I’ve done is gone to a site that lists dropped or expiring domain names (the “www.” thing), bought them, redesigned and chucked up some content, embellished my social media numbers, and then pitched a ton of agencies and marketers I know that spend money on buying links.

This is how most of the people I know work. They’ve built businesses around this model. And they’re doing very well as a result. At least according to what they let out on social media anyway.

Now ethically you could say whatever you want  to about this. Is it spamming the internet with shitty content? Yes. Is it equivalent to killing someone? No.

The fact that sites like Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail Online are so popular suggest that people don’t deserve anything better than the crap they get served anyway.

Let them eat cake I say. Or, in this case, let them eat Harry-Styles-gets-a-new-tattoo bullshit.

What’s most comical about all this, beside the savage self-loathing for my role in it all, are the crusades to put the system right. White Hat SEO, (a silly name given to those that see themselves as Christ-like saints crusading on behalf of digital media) result to similar questionable tactics to make bank.

And that’s despite their holier than thou attitudes.

The number one fall-back tactic for gaining attention and clients in their world? Calling out all the other dirty link buyers and sellers like little playground snitches.

Then, off the back of that, offering up a supposedly more attractive alternative focused on crafting ‘great content’.

Or, in other words; throwing a Ryan Gosling reference into an article.

Am I the only one that sees the irony in all this?

Sail away in the Mayflower across thoust digital seas my friends.

Such torment cannot last much longer.

As for where this now leaves me? Now the cats out of the bag, the boundaries have fallen and this model gets more and more saturated by opportunists and charlatans every passing minute?

Well, at least I have one crystal clear take-way.

That if I ever do see myself staring down the barrel of a gun (that is; choosing to take a digital marketing job), I know exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to commit harakiri.

Because I’d rather my colon get ripped out of my convulsing body than have to go about my job as ineffectually as this person does…

From: Helen X <helen@nohopegetaways.co.uk>

Subject: please could we have a link

Message Body:

No Hope Getaways for Luxury Boutique Breaks — Looking for a luxury spa hotel, cultural city break or perhaps a romantic break without the kids? No Hope Getaways provides chic retreats for stylish boutique breaks in fabulous places. Take a look… you may be inspired!—

Please could we have a link?

No. That shit cost money yo.

And if it doesn’t? At least a more thoughtfully-worded email.

People sell luxury boutique breaks to people.

Ain’t no computer algorithm going to fix lack of personalisation or research. Especially when hoping to inspire someone to take action. Or exchange some part of their value.

So that’s been my world for the last couple of years. Being on the end of uninspiring email outreach. Being in the midst of creating more of that fuzzy noise.

If you can live with the meaninglessness of dealing in content for contents sake I commend you. Links and spending your working life sharking for them? Might well just float your boat.

Relatively easy money if you want it too.