Do Not Read This

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Reverse psychology, or getting another person to do what you want by asking for the opposite, can be a neat trick, if done well. You’re reading, right?

In 1975, Freddie Mercury wrote and recorded Bohemian Rhapsody, a song that ran six minutes – unusually long for a song. He knew it was going to be tricky to get radio stations to play it in its entirety. Unsure what to do, Freddie sent a copy to a DJ friend, asking for advice on the length (cut it or not), but sent along strict instructions “Do NOT broadcast this.”

Think he was onto something?

More recently, this type of negative word play has been appearing on the Web. Earlier this year, Search Engine Land had a tab that said “Don’t click here.” Of COURSE I clicked, and was met with: “We’ve got something shiny and cool coming here in early July.”

The content was a teaser, piquing curiosity, and it worked. For a period of 20 days in May/June 2007, 1713 people clicked on the link; the “something shiny and cool,” we now know, is Sphinn.

So, why don’t more people use this technique on the Web? Probably because we’re afraid. See, those of us that write on the Web accept the basic rules of writing; use the active voice, write in plain English, use personal pronouns, present tense, positive rather than negative words…

We want people to enjoy our writing, so we tend to go with the flow rather than try for something different – but “something different” is exactly what SEO 2.0 is all about.

You can’t help but smile when you read Yvonne Russell’s list of how to comment on blog posts. Titled “Tips to Make Other Bloggers Hate You – Comment Crazy” it tells you what you shouldn’t do when you comment on posts. It works because there are hundreds of blog posts out there titled “How to comment on blogs.” This one throws in a free giggle. My favorite line: “Never reply to comments at your blog – you are far too busy.”

Web Analytics is hard; getting your head around it is much easier with a smile on your face. “21 Reasons Why You Do NOT Need Web Analytics,” from Web Analytics World, gives you some insight without overloading your brain. My favorite is number 3: “Most popular products? Who cares, you already know what your customers want.”

On a more practical level, Jonathan Kranz uses reverse psychology in screening potential clients: “10 Reasons NOT to Hire Me” is a comical, yet witty look at his work ethic. The title makes you want to read it, the comical slant makes it easier to read, but his values are clearly defined. There is freshness in this approach – you know what you’re getting yourself in for, and he knows you have similar goals.

SEO 2.0 is all about working smarter, not harder, so if you haven’t given this technique any thought before, why not give it a shot; just make sure you do it right:

  • Remember, everything in moderation. You shouldn’t do this often; rather, keep it for that really brilliant post you’ve been thinking about. Then get it out to social networking sites.
  • Write compelling content. Don’t just put a title up there, it’s not enough. There is no point in bringing people to your site if they are met with nothing. Think of Freddy Mercury – give them something great.
  • Have fun with it. If you have an idea for a terrific story, try playing with the words so your visitors can smile – even laugh – while they learn.
  • Arouse curiosity. Like Danny, give your readers something to look forward to; but always, always deliver.
  • Don’t be sneaky!

This is a guest article by the fabulous Lidija Davis of BlogWell. Thank you Lidija!

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