The strangest thing happened to me last night. I was on the sofa, waiting for an ad break to end on television when something caught my eye: a trailer for a major film (I won’t say which one, I don’t want to give them the publicity they seek) implored viewers to “Google ‘[choice of search words] now!”
I nearly did. I thought to myself, “Maybe there’s a competition to enter or something! Whee! Freebies!” But before my typing kicked in, my real brain — the one I use for thinking — engaged. The cheeky scallywags at the film studios marketing department were trying to get me to do their work for them!
Think about it: an advertisement, placed during the broadcast of a very popular television show, on a national channel, asking millions of people to Google a specific search term. Not sending them to a website, asking them to perform an internet search. Now, I am fairly slapdash when it comes to this blog’s search engine optimisation (SEO), but even I can recognise a blatant attempt at sucking up Google juice when I see one.
At its most basic, it works like this: the more searches that are performed for a certain term, the higher up the Google rankings it goes. Target the right phrase and your website can end up being the first result that a search engine returns. So, by asking the multitudes of viewers of a show that you know is being watched to Google your chosen search term, even if only a minority act on your request, that is still thousands of people dutifully adding more fuel to your artificially-lit fire.
I shouldn’t be as outraged as I feel. I know that as far as big businesses as concerned, it matters not whether people are duped into providing an SEO boost, provided the bottom line is preserved. But I can’t shake the feeling that there is something insiduous, something sneaky, something downright dishonest about getting consumers to do the work that your marketing department is already getting paid for.
I don’t swear very often, but on this occasion, I heartily entreat the bigwigs at the studio in question to go suck a giant bag of dicks.
[Note: No image for this post. I trawled YouTube to find the culprit movie trailer, but ultimately failed.]