It’s that time of the year again, April 1st a day when pranking and trickery are considered common place. The internet has always had these types of things but today is when it’s stepped up a bit and taken to an extreme through viral marketing efforts. Today I went to check my Gmail and came across Google’s April Fools trick about how we are now able to back date e-mails months into the past and make them look like they had been read. It was pretty funny but that’s to be expected of Google. I would highlight them but Google doesn’t need SEO. Continuing into my e-mail I had 2 new newsletters. One from Microsoft’s Xbox 360 site and one from a favorite shopping site of mine ThinkGeek.com.
Microsoft’s newsletter had some “new products” for spring which included a gaming helmet with “rumble” effects, an Xbox 360 made of wood, the Xbox 360 board game, and a Xbox 360 that came with a solar power tv and generator just incase the world ended and you needed power. Their items were unconvincing and were all done with computer graphics. Regardless of this fact I clicked through to see if there was any more effort put into their campaign. Clicking through the newsletter took me to this Xbox promotion page and although it is a very pretty page its total lack of text makes it useless for SEO. After clicking on one of the items in the flash movie the page tells you it’s a joke and to e-mail your friends and the campaign ends there. So what did Microsoft get from their viral marketing efforts? Not much. They managed to get 1 visit to an obscure promotion page and maybe a few e-mails out to my friends. They effectively drove traffic to a site that did nothing but generate traffic to a site with no conversion.
A better example is a personal favorite of mine ThinkGeek.com. Every year this site has a new April Fools viral marketing campaign and is known to be one of the best on the internet (You can see past year’s items here. Their entire home page is transformed by this campaign. Product pages, movies, and user images are all created to support it. Great items such as this Beta-Max to HD-DVD Converter or this USB Pregnancy Test are highlighted on their home page. The fake products that have movies are uploaded to YouTube where they spread like wildfire by un-expecting victims. Other are spread though word of mouth, blogs and message boards.
By this time tomorrow ThinkGeek can expect thousands of backlinks to these products by people who either thought they were funny, clever, or real. I can’t think of a better example of viral marketing that also translates into amazing SEO results. ThinkGeek has a PageRank of 8. This score is higher than Buy.com, Half.com, and Overstock.com. Through its creative marketing and SEO efforts this little niche ecommerce site has sky rocketed its self 1 PageRank away from the likes of Ebay.com and Amazon.com the 2 largest ecommerce sites on the internet.
Examples like this are proof that you can build relevant backlinks through viral marketing and social media. It doesn’t take a huge budget it just takes creative marketing efforts to enforce your SEO efforts.