Anyone casting half an eye on the Twitto-Blogosphere over the last 48 hours cannot have failed to have heard the name "Samantha Brick".
The journalist, writing for the Mail Online, managed to cause worldwide consternation and confusion by writing an article entitled "Why Do Women Hate Me For Being So Beautiful", a work so astoundingly narcissistic and deluded that it seems like it should have been written by Gareth on The Office.
But aside from the arguments and debate over the content and justification of the article, what were the motives behind it? Surely the author and most certainly the editors were fully aware of the vitriol such an article would drive? Was this just a cynical attempt to drive traffic and, ultimately, ad revenue to the site? It seems hard to believe otherwise.
Can we SEOs learn from the Mail Online and their Twitter-baiting ways? Aside from driving an estimated 1.5m extra visitors to their site, around 7,000 Tweets and 100,000 Facebook likes, this article will undoubtedly have driven dozens, if not hundreds of inbound links with huge SEO implications. It's no wonder the site has recently become one of the most visible sites in the search engines for a huge wealth of terms.
Can outrage be legitimately used as a tool for link building? Is it worth it? It's unarguably a tactic of the Mail Online to build content over news - anyone who has ever been on their site will have spotted the cleavage-image-driven right hand sidebar to tempt wandering minds. As the MP Louise Mensch put it, ""We're clicking on 'Oh my God, one of the WAGs couldn't put her hair up because she’d freshly painted her nails' and then you’re thinking, Why am I reading this? I'm an adult."
The Mail Online's link building strategy appears to be almost entirely based around a negative viewpoint. Unlike the other British news sources, who rely on articles sparking debate to spread virally, the Mail go for the stick-poking method - and it's hard to argue it doesn't work. There's nothing that provokes debate - and ultimately links - more than controversy, and The Mail seem to have that nailed.
That said, something tells me our clients wouldn't be too happy if we drove dozens of high quality links from vitriolic and derogatory articles...maybe we better avoid it for now...