Everyone has heard the term ‘all publicity is good publicity’ and it’s a debate that has recently been revitalised by the controversial ad campaign launched by supplements brand ‘Protein World’.
If you happen to be a London commuter or like to keep up with the latest social scandal, then you are probably already aware of the campaign in question. ‘Are You Beach Body Ready?’ A campaign almost certainly launched to create discussion and stir up a social media storm.
This article will be approaching the debate from a slightly different angle, the SEO benefits of going ‘viral’.
First things first, Google doesn’t know if you like Protein World or if you hate Protein World. All Google knows for sure, is that you’re talking about Protein World.
Ranking well in Google is a complicated art. A mix of well structured code, brand recognition and proactive keyword targeting are all key elements in optimising your website for search engine placement. The key ingredient however, is a strong link portfolio. Your ‘popularity’ plays a huge part in how high you rank in your field of choice. The more people who link to you the more popular you are.
Think of it like being in high school, the more friends you have the more popular you are. The more popular those friends are, the bigger effect they have on your popularity. Or in stereotypical American high school terms, being friends with 5 members of the chess club is less valuable than being friends with one member of the football team.
Since going viral just over a week ago, articles have been cropping up all over the internet chastising or praising Protein World, with others seeking to give an unbiased overview of events. A fair number of these articles are including links back to the Protein World website as a source for their information.
What does this mean to Google?
What this means is that all of a sudden Google is receiving loads of votes of popularity from sites such as:
Huffington Post, Reddit, YouTube, today.com
For a website that they could potentially be reprimanding.
The great guys and girls over at Moz.com have created a tool for measuring the prominence of any site (among many other useful nuggets of information) and the best news is it’s free! Using their open site explorer we can get a measure of each of the above sites’ ‘domain authority’ a metric which rolls popularity, trust and a variety of other factors into one to give an overall 1 to 100 score for a websites’ domain. Below are the domain authorities for some of the sites linking back to Protein World:
Huffington Post – 87 out of 100
Reddit – 99 out of 100
YouTube – 100 out of 100
Today.com – 92 out of 100
Now a little disclaimer here, these domains look mighty impressive when you see their score out of 100, however the page within the domain that contains the link is equally important. For example, www.blogspot.com has a domain authority of 93 out of 100, that does not mean an unknown blog with 4 readers is going to carry that weight across when linking to the sites you like. On the contrary, the ‘Page authority’ measurement is often a better indicator of this. You can learn more about Domain and Page authority here.
A big ‘thumbs up’!
From Google’s perspective, irrelevant of content all of these sites and many others are giving Protein World a big ‘thumbs up’. For example, you may Tweet:
‘OMG, This body shaming is unacceptable! Boycott www.proteinworld.com’
however all Google see’s is:
‘text text text www.proteinworld.com’.
The effects of these links will last long after the dust cloud settles and this ad campaign is long forgotten, 3 months from now when people are still Googling for protein shakes and no longer discussing the advertising ethics of insinuating you must lose weight to be ‘beach body ready’, protein world will be reaping the sizeable benefits of a larger more ‘popular’ link network in the form of higher organic Google rankings.
As far as advertising is concerned, the best approach to any advert that offends you is to ignore it. Advertising that everyone ignores is bad advertising. So next time you want to share your rage with a company or website, remember to ‘no follow’ your links, or find a company who does it right and link them instead! (Perhaps your favourite London based web design agency).