If I’m Making You Mad, I’m Trying to Sell You Something


The internet is kind of a mean place.  And even though there’s so much good that can come from it (i.e. immediate knowledge), without that instant encyclopedia, if I had to narrow the internet into two things, it’d be…

cats and angry comments

Cats and angry comments.

Cats are a given. I mean when the end of the world comes, there’ll be roaches on Earth and cats in the cloud. But the angry comments is a different matter.

A lot of people attribute the rage to the anonymity of the internet.

The comments section on any web page allows your voice to be heard without people seeing it’s you. Plus, most people can kick up their own blog in a day to make their voice heard — likely with more credibility than a simple comment and, likely with more anonymity (since some comments nowadays require an email or telephone number).

All that being said, I feel, as I’ve said in the past, that the job of an SEO is to provide feng shui to the internet, but I think we can all agree that violent, aggressive, sexist, misogynistic, racist, or otherwise psychopathic comments and blogs provide anything but a sense of tranquility.

u mad bro?

u mad bro?

There was something serene about the (now) old-school term, “Surfing the web,” but I honestly hear more people say they’re “Browsing the interwebs” than “surfing.” However, even more often than that I hear “I was on (Insert Domain Name) and read…”

That’s where it hit me. The branding. Ultimately an SEO is a writer, but what separates a writer from an SEO is the fact that SEOs are marketers first. They are writing content with the purpose of getting people to visit, share, and buy. With a field this massive, and the front page of Google consisting of numerous inflammatory articles, you know there’s something more sinister at work.



First, a look into the startup world:

We have a website domain. It’s been optimized for search engines; it has unique and informative content; it’s linked to all social media platforms. Yet… we’ve had 10 visitors in the last week.

What’s our employee count; 9? So we may have had only one actual… Oh… you told you mom to check out the site? (Sigh) I’m glad she thinks it looks nice.

Not a great feeling, especially when you’re in charge of getting people to your site (i.e. the SEO) and your employer is looking for quantifiable progress.

I swear I'm not useless.

I swear I’m not useless.

Well, if you want to get traffic and you want to get shares so that you have quantifiable results, then there are 5 sure-fire ways.

1. Comedic Content

“Dying is easy, comedy is hard. I think Shia LaBeouf said that.”
-Jim Carrey (Edmund Kean).

Comedy is hard to sell especially since it’s so subjective. I say this partially because there are different demographics for comedy (raunchy, witty, slapstick, etc.) and partially because I was the only at my local theater that laughed during the opening scene of Footloose (2011) (skip to minute 2:00 to the end of the clip 2:21):

Although comedy tends to get some shares online (see BuzzFeed or Cracked), it’s still very niche and it won’t appeal to everyone.

2. News

Being the first to report on something makes you the credible source.

If OJ came to you and said, “I killed her,” then you’re the eye witness and we’re all gonna quote, requote, retweet, and meme you. You become the sole authority and that’s what makes this second piece of content so hard because in order to be the first, you need to be on-call 24/7.

And content writers are marketers, not journalists.

The main distinction is in voice.

Journalism thrives off of objective writing! By distancing themselves from the material, they allow you (the reader) to make your own moral, emotional, or ethical judgement on the situation. In fact, I’d argue that it’s almost comical how distanced the writers place themselves from the subject matter:

“Smolinsky denied the accusation and said she had thrown the banana at him. But a deputy noticed the girlfriend’s face was slightly red where she said the banana hit her, an arrest affidavit said. The deputy also found the banana in the garbage and parts of the peel on the ground.” –(“Florida Man Accused of Attacking GirlFriend With Banana.” NBC News.)

In short, journalism is not condescending and although people make the debate, “They write for a fourth-grade reading level,” I say, “Good! Now people can get through legal jargon and don’t fall prey to right-clicking for synonyms!”


However, because SEOs know that the journalist to “break the news” is going to be hot in the search, they use “copywriting”. Essentially, they rewrite the story in different words — like synonym plagiarism.

Not just any synonym plagiarism however, as the story on its own won’t get people sharing — since that journalist is still the key source — so the SEO’s job is to rid the public’s ability to make their own judgements on objective content and instead, take an entirely subjective approach; bringing us to 3-5.

3-5. Articles that Appeal to the Emotional Fallacy: Sadness, Fear, & Anger

Sorry, master.

Sorry, master.

Social Media Marketing Manager, Martin Jones, purports that there are six emotions content writers (SEOs) appeal to to get the most shares; more shares = more traffic; more traffic = larger window of customers.

So content writers appeal to:

  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Disgust

However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Jones is a content writer and is trying to sell me on those latter 3 emotions.


Otherwise it would be Ameriq.

Otherwise it would be Ameriq.

See, although Upworthy makes a killing with those inspirational quotes and stories, that’s more of a Facebook-driven company and Facebook is an addictive drug where everything is up-up-up.

Facebook — when used properly — chronicles your life’s highlights, not your divorces and bad days. In fact, when someone posts:

“Bad day.”
“Burying the dog.”
“Jury duty :(“

It kinda feels like they’re fishing for the up-up-up.

Even though we have those friends who feel compelled to share their political, religious, and philosophical views, most people on Facebook appear like this:


Hi, neighbor!

So that we don’t need to see them, like this:


One more glass.

Or this:


Don’t LEAVE me.

Or this:

That got dark real fast.

That got dark real fast.

Those are the things you want to keep hidden (i.e. private).

It’s like the good neighbor rule: smile and wave, but keep your fences high and your voices low.

So, I feel Jones really means “Joy” as the emotional term for “Humor,” because I get like thirty BuzzFeed articles in my newsfeed a day.


I was a mistake?!

I was adopted?!

Again, Jones is using the emotional equivalent of journalism. Surprise is a headline, it’s the breaking story.

RIP Harold Ramis and that week of February shares.

RIP Harold Ramis and that week of February shares.


Even Martin Jones admits that “disgust,” appeals to a very niche demographic and “may become viral among small groups, but generally does not appeal to the masses” (Business2Community).

Yeah, disgust are those videos that our friends make us watch and we can’t look away, but sometimes you can find a callback to “disgust” in the mainstream media.

"2 Girls 1 Cup" flashback.

“2 Girls 1 Cup” flashback.

So that leaves Sadness, Fear, and Anger.

Sadly, the least threatening of the three emotions is sadness and it usually gets the least amount of shares. But we’ve all seen these articles. That movie Wanderlust does a good job of satirizing it when Jennifer Aniston tries to sell a documentary (or something) about penguin AIDs.

Of course, the latter two are much more aggressive emotions and are basically Jon Stewart’s problem with Fox News (i.e. Glenn Beck = appeal to fear; O’Rilley Factor = anger).

Fear makes sense, because it implies, “Without this product, you’re worse off” or “You will die.”

And anger, well, that’s an easy one; make a post titled “Mother Theresa is a Whore” and you’re bound to get more views than the one that praises her as a saint.

But you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, if a company is trying to get customers, then why would they want to make me angry?” But the answer to this is what’s bad for PR may be good for Google.

If I’m Making You Mad, I’m Trying to Sell You Something

It’s kinda surprising how much companies approve of it.

“No publicity is bad publicity.”
“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

It’s a common mantra for businesses, and especially with celebrity agents, whose primary function is to vicariously dictate a person’s values — you know, PR.

Who would’ve thought that “Public Relations” would be an occupation and not an inherent trait?

So when Selena Gomez says “Don’t see my movie, it has bad morals,” it’s hard to tell if she really felt that way, or if her agent told her to feel that way so she could maintain a following (coming off the Disney bandwagon), or if she was told to say that from the studio because the movie wasn’t selling and reverse psychology will.

Worked for Gossip Girl.


It’s also why when Mortal Kombat or — heaven forbid – Grand Theft Auto gets negative media attention for killing cops and hookers, it goes video game platinum. In fact, the franchise’s marketing strategy is to take the most controversial element/scene of their product and make sure everyone hears about it.

It’s also why when Samantha Brick writes about how hard it is to be blonde and beautiful, it gets shared, commented on, reposted, and is – ironically – hotly contested.

Or when 4AutoInsuranceQuote used Paul Walker’s death as a way to blast social media:


Oh wait… that was a terrible idea.

You might say the outcry was fast and furious, but that would be in bad taste.

But “Auto Insurance” and all the variations of it, are some of the MOST competitive keywords to rank for in Google; primarily because everyone needs auto insurance (or some form of liability coverage) in America. 4AutoInsuranceQuote is one of thousands — if not millions — of websites competing to get your business.

And of course, that week, who ranked on top?

Bad press, maybe, but sure made immediate results at the top of Google’s search page. They even waited for awhile before apologizing just to keep the story hot, so articles could come out saying, “Still no apology!”

But they did apologize, maybe they even fired their Social Media Manager (pssst, doubt it) and they’re still in business… but now they have all these links to their site from CNN, Fox, and other news networks. Win!

Or hey, remember when Abercrombie & Fitch made Derek Zoolander their spokesperson?


But Abercrombie didn’t fail because someone made the comment about fat people. The company was already failing  due to the Hipster movement (Hollar!):

“Abercrombie & Fitch failed to realize that teens’ values have shifted from the 90′s to present day. Instead of wanting to fit the mold, Ashley Lutz at Business Insider says teens today want to be unique and not look like everyone else. Also, in today’s economy, a lot of American parents find Abercrombie & Fitch’s clothing to be too expensive. And, after all, they are often the ones footing the bill in this case.” -(Jacques, Renee. “9 Iconic Brands That Could Soon Be Dead.” HuffingtonPost.)

I’m betting the “fat” comment was for more publicity because — let’s face it — there are always going to be those assholes that agree, but more importantly, there are going to be women with self-image issues and therefore think to themselves, “If I can fit into Abercrombie’s clothes, then I can’t be overweight.

Yes, in a twisted way, Abercrombie is brilliant. Now, they can sell a woman a “Large” or even an “XL” and it won’t matter because they just rebranded; Abercrombie & Fitch is now synonymous with “small”.

Honey, they weren't making money off you before anyway.

Honey, they weren’t making money off you before anyway.

And then of course, we all remember the first cat site to go viral.

Bonsai Kitten!

Sarcastic humor, maybe, but played so straight that the outcry of anger was palpable.

And then of course there’s the “comment” window on websites. If the site allows you to comment, it’s because they want comments. They want you to get ENRAGED because each new comment feeds directly into Google, telling the algorithm, “Oh, people are ENGAGED with this content.”

Even worse, if the comment function is turned off, but the content enrages you, then it’s an SEO effort to get you to copy and share it across social media.

People have been using anger for marketing purposes for years — centuries if you include Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal.


In the same way that some people pursue art for art’s sake, many SEOs pursue controversy for controversy’s sake. The goal is to get the word out, get noticed, and get shared.

People often follow the term “Sex Sells” but that’s a symptom, not a condition. Sex sells because it’s controversial what with all the varying views, risks involved, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Dogma and Religulous owed a great deal of their ticket sales to church-goers. In fairness, I haven’t read any articles to prove this, but I did meet with a pastor once who took his youth group to The DaVinci Code just to be able to counter-argue it the following week.

Be the Hero, Not the Hulk


In a brilliant article by Dr. Ryan Martin (what is it with “Martins” in this post?), he analyzes why we get mad.

Specifically, he points to our appraisal of situation. He has a friend that gets carded for a rated-R movie and is livid for the rest of the night — it’s insulting! However, a 30-year-old woman may have been flattered.

David Foster Wallace (author of Infinite Jest) purports this as well in his 2005 speech at Kenyon College:

“The Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

“Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.”

He even admits that these things probably aren’t true, but it’s how you perceive them; your conscious decision to appraise them.

In short, it was on a Halloween night in Mission Viejo, California (2008-9?) where I met a drunk Australian man and was not only sucked in to his speech due to his wicked awesome accent, but also for the “Australian philosophy” — his words, not mine. He slurred:

“If aye get mad at what yore saying, then that’s my problem. Ain’t no rayson for me ta be getting mad at  you for somethin’ aye get offended by. If aye get mad at what yore doing, that’s MOI problem.”

australian-beerFitting that I should meet my guru on a night where I was dressed as Casual Jesus and took Jagermeister shots with Dr. Manhattan. Ah…

Without being too didactic, it’s our conscious choice to get angry, but if you find yourself getting angry, just know that they’re trying to sell you something — even if it’s to people you’ve never met from another state — and there’s something intellectually gratifying in knowing that you’ve beaten them at their own game.

Oh, and you should click “Back” instead of ‘X-ing’ out of a window, because they get dinged for the former.


And if I’ve succeeded, and you’ve had a yuck or two, then you may be wondering, “What’s this guy trying to sell me?” And in the words of the late and great Charles Bukowski:

“What a writer has to sell is confidence.”



Why Hipsters Killed Social Media Buttons


If you’ve used the internet in the last five years, you’re probably familiar with these icons.

Sharing is Caring... or ROI

Sharing is Caring or Marketing.

These are social media. Of course, the term “Social Media” is our best way of making a faux-latin lexicon for businesses – you know, so they don’t have to say:

“You’re a definite contender for the position. Given your background in marketing and PR, I’d be interested in your Facebook.com and Twitter efficacy? Oh, and Pintrist – Pinterest?”

I mean it’s hard enough to say “Google” without making a face like a fish.



Designer, entrepreneur, and alliterative cognomen, Sam Solomon wrote a post (not “blog” as that suffers the same linguistic foibles as “Google”) about our Social Media icons and how they are a waste of time.

In the business world, many assume that if their site lacks a social media icon, then people won’t share the content – but replace “assume” with “panic”.

As we all know, Google is putting more credibility on sites that have higher engagement and share-ability. Engagement can be monitored by “time spent on a page” and share-ability is linking (i.e. who is posting your content on their website or – since some people don’t have websites – their social media: Facebook).

(Anyone else starting to think a “Hashtag” is really just a way of giving credit to a site without the link?)

However, Solomon states that Reichenstein said,

If readers are too lazy to copy and paste the URL, and write a few words about your content, then it is not because you lack these magical buttons.

I trust Reichenstein and I trust Solomon. Not just because he was a King, but because he also said:

If you are on the internet for the cat pictures, this does not apply.

This is me most days.

This is me most days.

My take?

The Hipster Movement is Sweeping the Internet

People are ego-centric. And if you’ve studied the movements of art and literature, then long behind us are the days when people thought centripetally (outwards) towards G-D (morality plays). Today, people are centrifugal and solipsistic to say the least.

Steve Jobs once said,

I want to make a dent in the Universe.

Nothing wrong with that mentality, but it’s a bit overzealous since the closest anyone has come to making a dent in anything is that asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Speaking of which, have we named this asteroid yet?

Speaking of which, have we named that asteroid yet?

Regardless, with icons like these, we have people – whether or not they realize it – wanting to make a “name” for themselves; wanting to leave a mark. In most cases, this involves being the first.

What’s ironic is the hipster movement proclaims there’s nothing new under the sun, so they want to be the first to discover something forgotten.

In perhaps the greatest essay on the Hipster Movement to date, Mark Greif writes:

All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world.

They want to be the first. So, in other words, if you have social media icons, then the current movement of people (hipsters) grow wary that what they’re reading has already been shared or, at the very least, is intended to be shared. This means they’re not the first; they can’t be even if your content is worth sharing.

Sam Jedidiah is right and so is Nietzche “Social media icons are dead” (LGBT Science). They were dead before they were alive. If anything, social media icons are more hipster than hipsters, but because they’re so prominent, you won’t find people clicking them.


And if you’re thinking “hipsters are college kids, why would we base our business off of low-income teenagers?” then you’re a hipster.


“Hipster” does not apply solely to the college generation of people, it’s the mentality of our zeitgeist. The term “hipster” is only taken in such a derogatory way because every hipster is adamantly opposed to being considered hipster.

Greif writes that the term “hipster” is used as a way to point out fakers. But using the method of French philosopher, Pierre Bourdieu, as a template, Greif gauges that this is just a class-by-class battle for social gain (i.e. the Bourdieu-ian term, “cultural capital”).

Each class of hipster considers the other class a hipster, ergo they cannot be hipster, because “they’re” hipster — in literary terms, we’re Othering others. But the basis for what makes a hipster, hipster, is entirely dependent on their class status. Each social class has a different definition for what they consider “hipster” or who they consider a faker.

In other words, we’re all hipsters, but simultaneously none of us are. The hipster movement is about as individual as you can get because it is mass conformity, but mentally solipsist. Chuck Palahniuck had it right with the hypocrisy of Tyler Durden:


Greif supports this as he continues:

Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves.

Even now, we’re at the apex of centrifugal thinking (believing ourselves to be unique butterflies) and it’s starting to turn back into centripetal (believing everyone else is the same by not being who you are).
By believing everyone else is hipster, while simultaneously being hipster, our mode of thinking has transitioned as follows:





Everyone and No One. Mind Blown.

Everyone and No One.
Mind Blown.

What is SEO and Why are English Graduates Perfect for the Job?


What is SEO? – Literally Speaking –

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, so an SEO’s job is to make a website “optimized” so that it will appear in the “Search Engine” when someone types in a relevant Keyword.

What is a Search Engine?

A Search Engine is usually your home page, i.e. Google, Bing, or Yahoo among others – it’s how we navigate the web.

When you type a word or phrase into the search bar, then your Search Engine will populate a list of sites that it deems relevant.

It’s why when you type in “hamster,” you’ll get a grab-bag of different sites; you’ll get the Wikipedia page, PetSmart, the humane society’s stance, and a bunch of cute photos.


A “short-tail” keyword.

It’s also why when you type in “buy a hamster,” you’ve refined your search and now you’re looking at pet shop sites.


The words and phrases you type in are the Keywords and companies fight over them to rank on the front page of Search Engines — after all, who clicks past the third search page; for that matter, who clicks past the first?

Each Search Engine has its own index — so you’re not technically scouring the “real” web. Each also uses a different algorithm with which it judges websites, but many of the same standards apply. Search Engines rank pages based on:

  • How many times the keyword appears (every page, a few pages,  in the URL, etc.)
  • How often the website is updated (every day, week, month)
  • How many websites are linking to the site (a few, hundreds, thousands)
    • How credible are said linking sites (.gov, .edu, or if it’s spammy)

There are some more granular fields, but those are the basics. Because each site does it differently and has their own index, you’ll get different results for the same keyword.


While ranking on each Search Engine is crucial to SEO, most companies will start with Google and treat it as the umbrella term for all Search Engines. It may not seem fair, but let’s face it, Google is the most trafficked website out there (2014).


A happyvisitor of an SEO’d Website.

What is SEO? – Literarily Speaking –

B.S. – and not the Bachelor of Science kind.

In fairness, it’s more like B.B.S. — a Bachelor of (acronym expletive), since it is an “educated guess.”

There are best practices that act as a sort of Feng Shui of web pages, but ultimately, there is no gaming the system. SEOs can notice trends, they can analyze user behavior and what seems to be happening, but ultimately no one knows but the teams that built the Search Engines themselves – a proverbial secret sauce.

Personally, if we go by the Freakonomics authors (Stephen & Steven), then in the same way that Listerine invented Halitosis, Google invented SEO. 

The problem is most employers want immediate results and it simply won’t happen, so your job is to employ the best practices until it does. Then, you can quantify your job/value/time.


How Do You Do SEO?

You write!

You research, you analyze data, and you write. Who knows how to do this better than English Graduates who have already been doing this for their entire academic career?

Minus the brief stint where we thought about becoming engineers.

Minus the brief stint where we thought about becoming engineers.

SEO centers around one main thing: Writing.

Why are English Graduates Perfect for SEO?

1. They can write fast and well
Most pages of content, on any given website, range from 450-600 words. That’s about a page. If an English Grad is asked to write several of those a day to indicate that the web page is updated frequently, no problem — they’ve crammed extensively researched, 20-page papers in a day before; this is a cake walk.

2. They research and can copywrite
The big thing companies stress is “we can’t have duplicate (Dupe) content.”

To an English Grad, this is almost insulting. What they mean to say is, “You can’t plagiarize,” but that’s not a problem. English Grads only get credible resources and if they quote something, they cite accordingly.

Plus, they have a natural copywriting ability since much of Essay-writing is based upon restating what was already said but in a different way; it’s 50% of the reason for a semicolon.

In other words, you want the latest New York Times article but in “other words,” well, English Grads are masters of saying the same thing, but different; it’s how they wrote papers “CD. CM. CM.”

There will be no dupe content.

There will be no dupe content.

And it doesn’t hurt that English Grads have a bigger vocabulary than most. Bring on the synonyms!

3. You want content strategy? We got content strategy

Part of an SEO’s job is determining what type of content to write and deeming relevance. So much of Englilsh Grads repertoire of literary papers centered around making two novels relevant.

If your client is a psychiatrist and they see that #Thanksgiving is trending in the Twitter-verse, English Grads are imaginative enough to “connect the dots” (Jobs, Steve. “Commencement Address.” Stanford University. 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305. 12 June 2005.).

Bottom line, this English Grad is your new SEO marketer.


How to Find a Job



Remember Monster.com, Indeed.com, CareerFinder, CareerCenter, TheVault — well, ignore all those. It costs money for employers to post on those sites, so you can bet they’re not looking for entry-level graduates willing to learn. You need experience for those.

Apply for jobs on CraigsList.

In fact, get the “App” — the free one. You can customize the app faster and more efficiently than you can on the desktop website.

That's my wife; hi, wife!

That’s my wife; hi, wife!

Get the app that looks like the one in the image above.

(Insert Realty Joke)

(Insert Realty Joke)

Select the various locations you’re interested in. This way, when you search for jobs, all of them will populate for the various cities (whereas on the desktop you need multiple tabs opened for each one — blecch!). Even if you don’t live there, if you’re willing to move, include it.

Note: Big cities like LA, Seattle, or Chicago can even be divided into smaller locations, so you can target the whole area or just a few.

Select preferred method of payment - a limerick perhaps?

Will work for naughty limericks.

Go to categories and scroll down to JOBS.

Note: If it’s been a few weeks and you really want something, then GIGS usually has something for writers as well.

That's us! Bottom of the barrel.

That’s us! Bottom of the barrel.

Scroll down to Writing / Editing (try to ignore the advertising).



Then scroll through and see what tickles your fancy or, enter “Entry Level” at the top search bar there and see what populates.

A general rule with this is not to apply to a job that’s more than 24-hours old. If possible, only apply to the ones posted on the day you’re looking. If you get discouraged by the selection, then go back a day.

When you find one you like, click on it.

I too belong on 21 Jump Street!

I too belong on 21 Jump Street!

Briefly look it over. If you feel qualified — always feel qualified (borderline entitled) — then click that “Share” button at the bottom.


These there buttons will appear. Click on the “Mail” icon on the far right.

That's me!

That’s me!

And mail it to yourself, so you can apply when you get home.

This way, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing (i.e. waiting in line at DisneyLand), you’ll be able to stay on top of job opportunities. Hell, if you’re anything like the rest of the world, you’re checking your Facebook and Mail all the time anyway, so add this to the routine.

Note: There’s usually more posts towards the end of the week, so don’t get discouraged on the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays — after all, while you’re unemployed, they’re just days.

Happy hunting!