Category Archives: Web/Tech

Ding Dong SEO Gone Bad

DingDong I'm gonna tell the long story. If you want the short story, skip to the last paragraph. Dinner last night was at Elway's, a bajillion-star restaurant inside the equally starred-up Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver.

After serving us some amazing steaks, the waiter asked if we wanted desserts. We all declined. He then said, "Look, we're kind of famous for our Ding Dongs. I'm gonna bring you one for the table to sample. You shouldn't miss this."

I've talked about Word of Mouth advertising quite a bit and one of the best triggers is unexpected generosity. The Ding Dong rocked. Awesome. It's the reason I'm writing this story. Yes, I'm giving Elway's some WOM love because Max the Waiter gave me a quarter of a Ding Dong. At $9 on the menu, the dessert is likely made up of less than a dollar's worth of butter, flour, sugar, cocoa and yum. So, for the cost of a few pennies, Elway's got a blog post, a Facebook conversation, a tweet…and it's just the day after. Be remarkable. Be generous.

Now, for the SEO lesson.

After I posted this pic on Facebook, my Australian Wizard of Ads Partner, Craig Arthur, asked, "Is that a chocolate spider?" I thought I'd help him out by posting a link to the official Hostess site. Right now (I hope they change this) the Ding Dong page at Hostess has a video of Ashton Kutcher doing a "Ding Dong Doorbell" stunt and absolutely NO a brief description of one of their best-selling snacks of all time. I'm sure that some genius figured out that they weren't ranking as well as the Ding Dong article on Wikipedia and said they should leverage Ashton's use of a similar phrase to garner some SEO traffic. ARGH. If I wanted Ashton Kutcher, I'd type that into Google. The official Hostess page was in second place, but offered little relevancy. A photo of the box, but no real description of the product. I'm not even going to link to their site because I don't want to reward this kind of stupidity. I have no doubt that this blog post will soon be on the first page for a Ding Dong search and at least I offer a story and a rant about a better Ding Dong than Hostess makes. Go do the search. Let me know when they come to their senses. I'll edit in a link for them. 😉

Contextual Linking: Your web site is NOT a strip mall


How stupid would it be to buy or build a giant strip mall and put different departments of your business into each storefront? How stupid would it be to not put the department names on the doors, or not tell the customer service employees inside the store where the other departments were located, instead requiring shoppers to come back to the main (home) storefront to get directions to each department? Can we agree that would be the dumbest way to build a business?

I had someone tell me the story of their web site the other day and they had done a lot of things right. They have a great design, built on a solid platform with all of the proper technical features. They got a domain that perfectly matched their biggest target keyword phrase. They have good traffic from the keyword. They have a ridiculously low bounce rate at around 1%. Unfortunately, they're not converting traffic to leads at more than 1%.

When I looked at the site, they had no contextual links in their copy. Other than the nav bar, there was no way for a visitor to get to any other page on the site once she had read to the bottom of a page. I'm not a huge fan of those big SEO footers, but at least that would have given a visitor another way to click through to different pages. How is this different than my doomed strip mall?

What's a contextual link? Just link on natural phrases in your copy that move people to different pages in your site. When they are skimming and scanning, they'll find the words that interest them and click. Outsiders (web "experts") who look at sites that I've put together often say they have too many links in the copy. Customers who use the same sites to solve a problem praise us for how easy it was to reach their goal. I'm siding with the customer on this one. You can build your strip mall on your own.

NOTE: There are no contextual links in this story. Don't you wish I'd included some as an example? Isn't it boring compared to other posts you've read where the writer linked all over the place? Wouldn't it make sense for me to link to examples of sites I've built? What if I've impressed you with my strip mall metaphor and you want to hire me? I guess you're on your own. You're smart. You'll figure it out, IF YOU HAVE TIME AND PATIENCE.

photo credit: DannyBen