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Antisocial Media Optimization

Techcrunch amused me [1] greatly by mentioning Hatebook [2], the “anti-social utility that connects you with the people YOU HATE.” If you’re already a member you can “Bog off”, and it invites you to “upload blackmail material”, “publish lies”, and “get the latest gossip from your enemies”. The jokes abound on this antisocial networking site — check out the stuff on the “edit your profile” screen I saw when I signed up:

(click to enlarge)

The site made me stop and think: would it be possible to optimize through antisocial networking? The answer is yes!

As Jason Calacanis [3] or Dave Pasternack [4] can tell you, saying controversial or terribly unpopular things can drive tons of bloggers and internet journalists to write about you, and if those writers aren’t knowledgeable about internet marketing, they may link to you. A lot. And, links can be useful for driving up PageRank. (Both Jason and Dave have at various times stated that the profession of search engine optimization was unnecessary to the point of bordering upon swindling people, resulting in loud outcry from natural search marketing professionals, and not a little attention to them both.)

The whole Hatebook thing made me think that perhaps there are some sites from which links ought to actually count against your site’s rankings! So, if lots more people hate a particular site, it might be de-ranked because of it. (Of course, it’s possible that links from “bad neighborhoods” can hurt your rankings under certain specific circumstances, and I’d guess that getting links from blacklist sites could cause harm, too.)

While Hatebook is a fun satire on social networking sites, I sadly must report that links from it are unlikely to help or harm you at this point, because the creators have rendered the whole site irrelevant for purposes of search engine optimization: the content pages appear to be uncrawlable, requiring registration first. Hopefully Hatebook will learn from news sites who allow the search engines to spider their content.

Or, maybe I should hope that they won’t! I’d hate to get link juice sucked away from me by getting added to people’s “bottom 5 list” or something.

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