Ok, I'll admit it - I'm addicted to the TV show Friends. It's one of my
favorite shows of all time, and I've probably watched the entire series
on DVD at least
30 times. (And that's a conservative guess.) The show still makes me laugh, even when I
watch it over and over again.
Recently, I had an epiphany, and
realized that there is a lot
you can learn about link building from
this show. I'm sure you're asking, "What exactly does a TV show
have to do with search engine marketing?" Well, a lot more than you
One of the things I noticed during my 25th or 26th time
watching the series through, was there were subtle references to
specific brands and products. I'm usually pretty quick to catch things like this, but I'd never noticed it before. Off the top of my head, some examples include IKEA,
Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma. After I started paying attention, I
noticed that there were 2-3 of these per episode.
Having lived in
southern California for over ten years, I've got a few friends who are
actors, and I know a thing or two about the TV and film industry.
Rarely will they give away free references to specific brands. They
usually get sponsors to pay for these subtle contextual placements. The
writers are clever though, and are able to sneak in these references
without you noticing it most of the time. Later on, you find yourself
subconsciously desiring that item mentioned in the show. I'll give an
example, and I think this is when I first started paying attention to
these brand references.
On one episode, Joey was eating a Three
Musketeers bar. I rarely eat candy bars, but later that day, I found
wanting a Three Musketeers bar. I thought, "Where
the heck did that come from?" I realized it was from the contextual
advertising in the show, and it had worked brilliantly. It was subtle
enough to not hinder the plot, and yet strong enough to stick in your
head - the perfect balance. I've seen this done in TV shows and movies
before, but few are this well executed.Ok, here's where it relates to search engine marketing.
probably know that building links into your site is one of the most
important things you can do in your efforts to improve your site's
ranking. A lot of people struggle with this process, especially at the
beginning. Many questions also arise as to where the link should be
placed on the site you are trying to get linked from, along with what
kind of sites should you get links from, and what those links should
Let me help you simplify this and eliminate some of those questions.
In a TV show, when a brand is mentioned, it can be compared to when a
website links out to another site - it's a brand reference. Whether or
not the link is paid or given voluntarily, it is a tiny little ad for
the other site. Friends is such a great example because these reference are subtle
, and contextual
- they are simply part of the conversation
The most valuable links you can acquire for your site will look like this too. They should be subtle
, and contextual
- part of the conversation
. (This is also a great model for how we should link out to other sites.)
On the flip side of the coin, think of the last time you saw a TV show or movie where there was some contextual advertising that just stuck out like a sore thumb - it's tacky and a turn-off. When I see those I make a mental note, "Do not buy x
brand product." Seriously - I'll actually boycott a product if the advertising is that obnoxious.
Well, guess what...search engines and users feel the same way about websites. Search engines place the most value on links that seem natural and relevant, and so do site visitors. To get the most value out of the inbound links you acquire for your site, go for the natural contextual ones.
There's obviously a lot more that goes into link building, but this should help you have an easier time deciding what kinds of links to pursue.
So, the next time you're trying to figure out what kind of links to get, just think of the TV show Friends.
April 30, 2008
Scott is the CEO and founder of Red Sand Marketing, a San Diego SEO and web design firm. A dynamic mix of marketer, designer, and developer, he thrives on all aspects of internet marketing and web development. Having been involved in search engine optimization and web design since 1996, he and his team consistently achieve top search engine rankings for clients in competitive markets, and have won multiple web design awards along the way.