I love original and unique ideas that promote themselves. Creating content that spreads is art and you are unable to generate dozens of unique and catchy ideas weekly: sometimes a person creates something truly unique once in a lifetime.
Still, there are some tactics behind crafting something that becomes viral. One such tactic is making fake mini websites that feature some sensation or weird concepts.
Those websites create their own imaginary world around them (for example, describe the life in a non-existent country) or share some spoofed scientific research or experiments or claim to describe an event that never happened, etc.
The best thing about those sites is that they don’t require much time or effort and are eagerly shared. Very often all you need is to contact a power blogger or even a journalist and share your hoax and it will work like a charm.
Let’s have a look at just a few examples to get an idea and inspiration:
Notice how the Onion, the weekly “satirical” stream of fake news, brand their video category: the logo, video watermarks, and the overall design are CNN-styled. This trick already makes their stream viral:
Make it easy to believe:
Male Pregnancy, the official site dedicated to the first male pregnancy, is a great example of how to design a hoax site. Everything here testifies for the reliability of this “scientific experiment”: video documentary, online EKG, magazine cover, etc.
Brainstorm a sticky concept
Some ideas don’t even require any design work or time to develop. Look at Internet First Page and Internet Last Page for example: all they needed was an idea and the domain name for that, and here we go a nice naturally-linked page to transfer link juice wherever you need:
Another cool example: turnofftheinternet.com
Grab a sensational domain
Sometimes a domain is what makes a website spread. A great example of that is PetsORFood.com for the site that claims to deliver exotic animals (like baby seals) meat to American dinner tables. The domain speaks for itself and provokes emotions by combining two “uncombineable” concepts that do not fit together: pets who we love dearly and food which we eat:
Post image by Capture Queen ™
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Brilliant Ann, love the thinking behind these, very very clever.
Wish i had to time to set up another site, my head is spinning now, you still have the basis for a great concept to bait though. How about a 101 of spoof sites for another article (don`t shoot me t`is just an idea)
I love these ideas. Hadn’t thought about this a a plan of attack for SEO, but the client needs to have patience and money for these to pay off.
I have an idea of a Facebook spoof site that I own the domain name for. I was thinking of using it as a social media lightning rod and then using the authority to link to our clients where appropriate.
Wonerful Ann! Great entertainment and food for thoughts. Love the “This is the First Page” site.
Thanks, Ann! Nice post.
But what can I do with turnofftheinternet.com like site? It’s just for fun.
This is a great idea. Need to think how we can incorporate this..thanks for the post.
These are very cool ideas, but you also have to determine how you will convert the links and the fun-loving traffic into real customer willing to pay for whatever it is you sell.
Thanks, Ann for coming up with this great post. I wonder how many will really try to implement ….it’s real time consuming tactic.
ha ha ha the pets or food one is absolutely hilarious.
OK so let’s say you put up one of these sites and everyone links to it, now what? I mean you create links to a hoax site but what are those links good for other than the hoax site being funny. Am I missing something?
Hi Gerald 🙂
The ways you use this site are multiple actually. You can use it to link to your site or to advertise your (related) products, for example.
What a clever idea!! David is right though, you have to be able to convert to traffic. It would be much easier with a catchy look!!
Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and look forward to many more!
Thanks for a crafty idea.
I’ll have to start racking my brain to think of what my sensational site can be about.
If you could come up with a catchy name for me as a dating blogger. My site is not as uniquely brandable as I wanted. Didn’t think about that when I set up the url. I could start another one. What happens when you change your url?? Can it be done when the site is new. I don’t have that many links yet.
Great post…I am just now discovering link baiting.
I would love to see an article about the ethics of programmers and establishing protocol for them as well as web site owners. You have a great site.
I know this is off topic but would be a great topic and maybe you could post for suggestions…
Hi Dede, I will definitely research this. Any links you may want to share on that?
Ann, this made for a few great smiles. Nice creativity…
Very Clever! I had never looked into this before, but I see no reason why this notion wouldn’t be a successful viral.
The cogs start turning…
Keep up the good ideas.
Great examples have been potraited to explain how to batte with fake links
Thanks for the good post…I do not hesitate to tell you that i came your blog only to get backlink, but you post catched me and I am here. I heard that people make too many blogs on wordpress and blogspot to promote their sites. Is this a good technique? should i make many blogs and put my site link there, even there is no traffic but i’ll get some backlink.
Excellent post Ann – sorry I didn’t see this sooner. Please – when you have such great stuff, lemme know so I can help promote it on Sphinn! This was front page stuff!
I visit your blog frequently and its very good , I am not a expert webmaster but i like your blog as its very simple and understandable.. please keep it up , 10/10 marks…
Really i doesn’t like the fake sites in my point of view they are not working or support you long time .
Keep going …………
Good One Ann,
I am definitely a fan of your posts.
This is a good information for us who reads your post, very cleaver thinking.
coooool. thanks for sharing the ideas.
Thanks for the post Ann, its really very resourceful and to the point, its really very difficult to track the fake baiting of links.
Stumbled upon your blog doing some fun searches on viral marketing and linkbait. Found a gem at this website today via digg. Really funny, if it’s true then even better lol. http://www.breezemedia.co.uk/seo-originated-in-scotland-say-experts/
huh, the site theonion really looks as if its the real one.
These days anything is possible.
Certainly an idea to think about… I’m just thinking, is SEO Smarty real?
I’m sure it is.
Thanks a lot ANN, you did a great job.
Ilike your attitude and your ideas, and your listbox demo. Keep up the good work!
My idea for a possible ASP-based demo is an application that would allow a webmaster
to quickly import user generated text or WORD documents into a database.
This post is very clever. I love the onion. Its design is really like CNN. At first I thought it was really a CNN video.
s SEO Smarty real?
Ann, this made for a few great smiles. Nice creativity…
fantastic post, also you provide us with some great examples, thanks for sharing this great post
Ann, you always have the best posts!
Love the outsourcing skit the onion do. Well done.
It’s a trick a lot of web based company do take advantage of and certainly one that google does not favor of. Naverthless it’s a fact and it does work!!!
A couple questions on this fake website practice…..
I believe some of my company’s competitors are employing fake websites to increase their backlinks.
My first question is: is this legal?
My second question is: how can I be sure that they are in fact participating in link baiting fake website campaigns?
My third question is: would the company that designs their “real” website and aids them in SEO marketing participate in the construction of these false websites?
Please let me know. I am interested in learning more about this practice.
There are so many GOOD advertising techniques that WORK, why mess around with FAKE websites! Seriously, it’s crazy.