Get Top Search Rankings with Sneedobb

sneedobb is a made-up name for an SEO trick

I had a lively discussion with a writer and online marketing guy from a local ad agency over beers last night. (Side note: Wednesday is wings night at Sun Up Brewery, the hot wings are tasty and just the right amount of painful, and the Trooper IPA cools the fire with delicious efficiency.) Our conversation was about sneedobb. Not familiar with sneedobb? It’s pretty amazing stuff, but before we get to sneedobb, you’ll need the backstory:

The agency where my buddy works is running a self-promotion campaign which encourages readers to Google one of a selection of bizarre phrases, whereupon a page from the agency’s website shows up as #1 in the search results. It’s a neat trick, and according to my friend, it wows prospective clients: “Hey, look, you guys rank number one in Google!”

Like many an excellent magic trick, this one depends on sleight of hand. Which is great fun if you’re watching a freaky street magician, but it’s meaningless for search marketing. Why? Because there’s no relevance. And in SEO, relevance is the name of the game.

Unless, Of Course, Sneedobb is the Name of the Game

The problem is, this SEO trick only works if you tell people what the search term is. And that’s not how search marketing works. That’s how advertising works, yes. Advertising is a push strategy – you push messages at your audience, such as “Drink our koolaid” or “Drive our car” or “Visit our website.”

But search engine optimization is about making sure your audience finds your website when they’re looking for what they want (not what you’ve told them to look for). In other words, the search term has to have relevance for the searcher. SEO is a pull strategy. The voodoo of SEO is in figuring out what your prospective customers might use as a search term when they’re looking for what you’re selling (really the process requires a bunch of research and marketing insights, but voodoo sounds way sexier) .

And I’ll wager you a rabbit that this ad agency’s prospective customers aren’t searching for “pumas have iridescent feathers.” Or any of the nonsense phrases they’re promoting.

And That’s Where Sneedobb Triumphs

You see, anybody can achieve a high search ranking for an irrelevant term like sneedobb. As a test, we’re going to see how long it takes this post to top the search rankings for sneedobb. Of course, to make this trick easy to do, I stacked the deck: As of today, January 28, 2010, there are no search results for sneedobb.

What, you protest? That’s cheating? Exactly. And it doesn’t matter, because nobody over the age of 11 believes that magic is real. Except, apparently, for some of this local ad agency’s prospective clients.

Update at 1:47 p.m. MST: The results are already in. It took less than three hours for this post to get number one ranking on Google for “sneedobb”. Even I’m surprised by that.

(photo by Hashmil)


  1. Writer/Online Marketing Guy From Local Ad Agency on 28 January 2010 at 11:14 am

    Ah yes, the magic of SEO isn’t in getting to number one for just any term, but making sure your site is easily found for words that are relevant and will attract traffic.

    The main point of the business card search phrase isn’t simply to display the chops it takes (or lack thereof) to get a page to number one for any particular word. It’s neat, mind you, but the ultimate goal it is not. The ultimate goal is to create a memorable experience with the business card. Something more for the recipient to do than just take the card and look at it before they stick it in the trash.

    By adding a phrase like 5-year-old puzzle wizard to your business card, you’re inviting its recipient to interact beyond entering your info into their address book. Truly, it’s a push maneuver that’s tied to a typically pull medium. A memorable interaction that will leave a true impression. I guess you could just follow this guy’s advice if you don’t like the idea.

  2. Ed on 28 January 2010 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for sharing some more of the strategy behind your campaign, Josh. I understood this to be a way to show off your SEO chops to prospects, and clearly in that regard it’s just an illusion. I do like the idea of giving someone something on your business card to entice them to dig a little deeper, and your unique phrases certainly must get more attention than just listing your web address. (And thanks a bunch for pointing to the die-cut, foil-stamped, pop-up business card guy…now I’ll have nightmares.)

  3. Chuck on 28 January 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Funny you bring this up, I was just having this talk yesterday with a couple guys at Gangplank. They had been talking to some seo company and were all stoked they were going to “be #1 on google” in a few weeks… I laughed and walked up to them and all I said was “I want to save you from a big headache” and they were interested… I explained the whole thing and told them anybody could rank for “sneedobb” 😉 or any weird or long term.

    I need to get my post out about seo and magic but it’s funny how, not saying your buddy did, agencies and people use stupid tactics like that to try and ‘prove’ how awesome they are to the uneducated. Though sadly it happens all the time, and in (probably) every industry…

    Cheers for the post

    • Ed on 28 January 2010 at 3:27 pm

      There’s definitely a lot of confusion around SEO, what’s possible, and what’s not. When I give my SEO workshops I always crush a lot of dreams by telling the attendees that they’re probably not going to be able to rank highly for their super desirable terms, such as “family lawyer” or “home remodeling” or “advertising agency.” There’s just too much competition.

      I have definitely seen the agencies you mention, Chuck, who claim they’ll get those top rankings, and their customers are in for a surprise or a disappointment. Clearly, this isn’t what Josh’s agency was trying to do, and I didn’t mean to imply that they were. As Josh points out, theirs is really a traditional media strategy (business card) that pushes people to their website through a carefully chosen search term. Not really SEO at all.

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