Do You Need Missiles for Your SEO Strategy?


As a die hard pacifist I often get really annoyed with the language many people use on the Web. Bloggers will tell you about the secret weapon you need or how to go to war for this or that. I don’t think a war is something we need to add to spice up our writing.

Some words are so inherently intertwined with our language that they don’t feel militarist at all anymore, strategy is one of them. Personally I prefer to think about strategy in the context of Chess. It’s clearly a term stemming from military strategy though.

Now that everybody talks about strategy, be it

  • SEO strategy
  • social media strategy
  • content strategy,

I’d like to re-enter the original context of the term and use an item from its realm to explain what I mean: missiles. The cold war was all about strategy. Both the US and the SU (Soviet Union) built lots of missiles to win it or rather to prevent the other side from winning it.

We talk so much about strategy these days. Do we need missiles in our arsenals too?


The Victory of Blue Jeans

Unlike a hot war that was often about tactics and took only weeks, the cold war took decades but luckily for all of us never really turned hot enough to blow us all up. It ended by itself not because of actual fighting but because of the lack of resources and organizational flaws.

Corporate capitalism as opposed to state capitalism (for propaganda reasons called socialism or communism) and democracy won over autocracy simple because it worked better.

In today’s content marketing era the missiles are “far reaching content pieces” some call viral content.

They are meant to reach far and wide into enemy territory that is beyond your own controlled sites and social media accounts. So while most content pieces will only reach the audience you already have, unless you don’t even have that yet, missiles can explode anywhere on the Web and their shock-waves can spread all over the Web.


Stop the War!

You see, despite being a pacifist I can build up a pretty bloodthirsty allegory. Now that you got the meaning of the metaphors I’d like to stop using it and ask whether we really need high profile viral content?

Like a missile viral content usually takes up a lot of resources and you need a pretty complex organizational structure to be even able to build and use one.

Even a simple looking infographic needs a whole team of people working together to make it happen and succeed. Likewise a viral video is a real movie that may look cheap or “real” but often a dozen or more people are involved in it.


The Silence after the Viral Piece

At the end of the day you end up creating only a few videos or infographics per year, not more. What happens in the meantime? Also what happens with the people who you reach once with a viral content piece? How does this reach extend beyond the one time event of the publication and viral spread of the content?

For example a viral video that get millions of views on YouTube, gets embedded on thousands of blogs and sites doesn’t make you rich by itself.

Indeed mostly Google, the owner of YouTube will profit from it and I guess ad dollars from YouTube are not what you are after when creating viral videos in most cases. No, you want to reach beyond the small niche you are in and make people know and recognize you who wouldn’t otherwise. So branding is one purpose of content going viral. Red Bull does it all the time.

What happens once the people know your name, logo or even slogan?

They must be able to locate you and your offer too. You are not a multinational though that has its signs all over the place like Coca Cola. Now the real SEO work begins. Originally viral content was also called linkbait. Linkbait as the name suggest was meant to bait links for a given site. So you’d rather add the stellar content piece to your site and then try to make it spread like wildfire on social media.


Free Content Creation for Billionaires?

Social media companies get smarter by the day and try to exploit the so called User Generated Content to the maximum. So they want you to feature the content on their sites, not the other way around. Just think about modern social sites that work really well and grow steadily:

  1. YouTube
  2. Pinterest
  3. Tumblr

All of them focus on grabbing the content and not just to link to some other destination where you can see it unlike early social sites that merely pointed towards the sources. Google even attempts to use the same model for search by grabbing images and news and showing them onsite on to get the views itself.


Go Home!

So beyond the amazing content you pump into the billion dollar ventures of others you need to built up an arsenal (sorry!) of your own content at home. Your home is not on Facebook either. Your home are the online entities you own yourself. Your

  1. main website
  2. self hosted your blog
  3. microsites
  4. email newsletters
  5. feedback communities

etc. Any Web based entity you have the full responsibility for and aren’t dependent on third parties for (even hosting can be a problem!) is your home online. Here you need to welcome the potential audience you have reached via viral content or without it.


Less Effort Equals More Success

In case you can’t afford a team of Web professionals to create infographics or videos you want to start smaller.

  1. Text
  2. images
  3. audio

may suffice. For some text and images may be very simple to get, for others audio is easier, just think about musicians. Indeed text and image combinations often get viral by itself, little GIF animations, hopelessly outdated by any technical standards work virally too.

Some musicians give away their music and earn money by performing life on stage. Most do give away a few songs or older albums while they sell newer ones. In most cases giving away your own music is better then having it “stolen” by others and letting your fans download them on questionable sites or networks.

It’s about controlling both your customer relationship and your sales funnel even beforeĀ  the sale and thus a person becomes a customer.


  • Create low level viral images and brand them with your URL. So they come back to the source.
  • Give away premium items like music or software to make people appreciate it. Then they will pay for additional services or products.
  • Engage with people long before the sales process. Be friendly to everybody, not just those who pay. Others may spread the word or buy later.


Why so Serious?

Don’t be serious all the time. Funny things work better online than boring ones. Positivity is better when it comes to sharing. Share your most optimistic insights and people will spread the faster than your doom and gloom. That’s obvious, isn’t it? Until lately, before a study proved it, most traditional publishers attempted to shock and awe their readers instead.

Give peace a chance. You don’t need the missiles.

The hippy songs about peace will spread faster and reach the “enemy”. The “Warsaw Pact” literally lost because people wanted blue jeans and cool records (it was back when music was stored and sold on large round pieces of vinyl).


Online Tools

You don’t even need Photoshop or other photo-manipulation software to create “viral images”.

There are plenty of simple online tools that let you add text to images in a quick way. Make sure to add your name and or URL to them so people know who they are quoting:


It’s very counter-intuitive as Google has been telling us for ages not to use text in images so that they can spider it but the Web is largely democratic and does not work in the way the generals of large corporations want.

Likewise there are online tools to create GIF animations from a series of images or video sequences and audio tools that let you record with ease.

This way you can spend most of the time and effort on valuable onsite resources

while you spread the word virally about you nonetheless without having to spend countless of hours to create it. Make sure to publish content at home regularly. It should deal with more or less the same topics so that you get an audience of regulars as well. The people who ill notice you due to your viral content will want to get more, not only measured by length, but also by depth.

* Creative Commons image by Greg Goebel.