Sarah Jessica Parker vs. The Horse

Sarah Jessica Parker vs. The Horse

Some people have been asking about link farms or link clusters recently and there just happens to be one that showed up on radar recently, www.sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com, that looks like it might be intended to be what you might call a viral link farm site.

This site is designed to get hundreds of diverse links, some from authority sites, rather quickly which should give it a high PR and authority itself in short order. If you take what is said on the site at face value, it went viral in a big way, scoring 350,000 page views a day and being mentioned on popular humor radio shows like Opie and Anthony. These are impressive numbers but this traffic level probably isn’t sustainable over the long haul. The site is a one trick pony. :)

Let’s dissect this site a bit and see what it’s up to.

Going Viral

Going Viral

Obviously to pull this off you need something funny, offbeat, irreverent or the like that will catch the public’s short attention span. In selecting Sarah Jessica Parker, one of the stars of Sex and the City, and her elongated face as the subject the site owner did just that. With the movie hitting theaters and her name being in the press this made the lampoon an obvious choice.

The site is very simple, about 20 HTML pages, no WordPress or other bulky server side processing. This helps insure that the site will remain stable even under heavy traffic conditions. You are counting on a site like this to be Dugg and Stumbled and whatever else’d many times. You would think that they would have this on a dedicated server but it’s actually on a shared hosting account. This lean site design allows it to survive the onslaught.

It doesn’t take much to get the ball rolling, just a few “check this out” type posts and comments in humor forums and blogs should get it done. A few initial inbound links from a small link farm can boost it as well. If it catches on, and not all do, it will climb to 1000’s of hits a day rapidly. At the same time, the number of inlinks grows too.

Monetization Strategy

Horsey Adsense

They have two forms of monetization, a theater ticket widget and a block of Adsense Ads, or are they?

I’ll bet you noticed that Adsense block on the page right off. And, if you’ve kept up with what Vic and Griz have said you know that it is a bad idea to have Adsense on a site like this. Why? Because it will probably get your Adsense account smart priced and reduce you to getting 3 cent clicks across your Adsense network. Plus, you would probably not get well targeted ads because of the lack of text on most of the pages. Why would the owner of this site do this to themselves?

They didn’t. The Adsense block is fake! It is a bunch of links disguised as an Adsense block. Why would someone do this? I’m not sure but it is an interesting strategy to perhaps make the site and the links look more legit or to make it part of the parody. Were these links paid links? We have no way of knowing but they should be effective immediate advertising for the other site owners as well as long term link juice.

Long Term Linking Strategy

Time is money when it comes to links

The links from this site will become quite potent over time. As the movie fades and traffic dies down, most of the links will remain and thus the site will acquire an impressive page rank based on links from authority sites. This will make it a powerful way to boost other sites in the owner’s network or for clients. Just add a link and it gets some good Google link juice.

There is the chance that this site will decline over time in terms of the authority it will pass on. However, this process will take months, most likely years, to happen. This gives the owner the chance to create more money making sites built off of this one, or, to sell links under the table.

They can ride this horse to the bank for a long time to come, but there are some risks involved.

The Risks

Taking a Risk

The main risk is that the pictures, both of Sarah Jessica Parker and the Horses, being used on the site probably violate copyright law. Eventually one or more copyright owners will file DMCA takedown requests, or, even worse, sue for damages. This is something to be mindful of if you were to attempt such a site. Just taking the pictures down as requested wouldn’t be a problem for them at this point since the links to the sites are already in place. Being sued though would be a different matter.

Secondary to this Ms. Parker could try to take the domain away under ICANN rules about cyber squatting. This would be a disaster since all of the long term benefits of the site would be lost.

Another risk they’re taking with the site is with the fake Google Adsense ads. I’m pretty sure Google wouldn’t be pleased about seeing the Adsense logo on a block of links that weren’t theirs. Given that Google also controls the search engine, deindexing of the site or other penalties might not be far behind. That also would be a disaster.

The Bottom Line

There are some risks involved in doing this kind of viral link building but the rewards can be great as well. I think the owner of www.sarahjessicaparkerlookslikeahorse.com took a few unnecessary risks, such as with the fake Adsense block, but should be in good shape otherwise unless Sarah Jessica Parker or a horse photographer gets really ticked off and sues.

What do you think about this kind of viral link building? Any thoughts or opinions on the risks and rewards involved? Leave your comment and let me know.

 


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21 Comments »

Comment by lissie
2008-06-04 09:43:53

Thanks for this useful post Frank: I am only just realising the importance of building an asset base of well connected (pun intended) sites for a sustainable online business.

Comment by jfc
2008-06-04 10:10:55

Thanks for stopping by Lissie,

There are several ways to build a good supporting link structure that won’t get you in trouble with Google and that you can use to support your money making websites. This viral method is a bit risky but I’ve seen a number of people do it to build links to a primary site, including John Cow.

 
 
Comment by April of Scotland
2008-06-04 10:11:17

That’s a really well thought out post Frank. When I wrote mine it was just a load of waffle so that I could get onto the next post. I’ve always admired those who know how to do a good link bait but you have to be really clever.

Comment by jfc
2008-06-04 10:26:32

Hi April,

As they said in Spinal Tap, there’s a fine line between clever and stupid.

I’m trying to blend in a few ‘thinking posts’ between all the short product review/marketing posts.

Comment by April of Scotland
2008-06-04 11:08:35

Frank, you put out “11″ all the time ;)

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Comment by seo man
2008-06-04 15:30:03

I was expecting something very ****** from this post lol judging by the title.

Edit: Had to bleep out an unwanted keyword

Comment by jfc
2008-06-04 23:23:57

Hi Seo Man,

I didn’t want to leave that keyword in there since that might have undesirable effects. I could see how you could think that though.

 
 
2008-06-05 09:29:56

ahh, nice one Frank, I never thought about viral sites like that. You make a very good point there. I have literally saw that site plastered all over the net in the last few days.

Jason Slone

Comment by jfc
2008-06-05 13:15:49

Hi Jason,

I had to pull your comment out of the Akismet bin. You might want to contact them about getting reinstated.

People pull tricks like this from time to time as Digg/Stumble bait but the real reward is in getting tons of mid to high PR backlinks to the site.

 
 
Comment by Stable Master
2008-06-05 14:27:43

Hi folks! I’m Wilber, the humble Stable Master and creator of SJPLLAH. Let me set the record straight. It’s all a joke. Just a spoof so web egg heads like you will make a fuss. I can’t believe you fell for this. It’s all fake, and no one makes a dime off it! Anyway, hope you had a good laff. We’re all big fans of optempo.com. Cheers!

Comment by jfc
2008-06-05 14:48:57

Hi Wilber,

I don’t think that you would make much money directly off of a viral humor site like that, most don’t, but the link farm you could build with a site like that as a foundation could keep your stallions and mares in hay and oats for years.

I just hope that the lawyers don’t put their spurs into you for your trouble though. You wouldn’t want to be saddled with a lawsuit.

I enjoyed your site though from the humor, technical and marketing aspects of it. Good job!

 
 
Comment by Durr...
2008-06-05 16:09:16

The fake ad and widget were both implemented by Interpolls (google it - they are a large marketing firm) who also make widgets for HBO, NBC, and other cable companies/studios. I’m pretty sure they approve sites before they advertise on them. I love the site. I think it’s hilarious .

added link to Interpolls

Comment by jfc
2008-06-05 16:30:41

Hi Durr,

The Interpolls widgets seem to be ‘grab-able’ by anyone. I just grabbed their Kung Fu Panda widget and it seemed to work OK on one of my test blogs. There doesn’t seem to be an approval process. Of course, that’s just free advertising for the product in question. It’s not an affiliate widget like I thought it was at first. Thanks for the info.

It wouldn’t surprise me if there wasn’t a marketing firm behind the site in some capacity. It’s great viral advertising for a movie that makes the men who dare see it feel like a gelding.

 
 
Comment by Henry Gale
2008-06-05 17:59:54

“…a marketing firm behind the site in some capacity. It’s great viral advertising for a movie that makes the men who dare see it feel like a gelding…”

BINGO!

Comment by jfc
2008-06-05 18:19:36

Hi Ben,

I just needed another horse term to add to the stable of keywords on this post. Some people might bridle at that but I didn’t want to halter.

 
 
Comment by candleshoe
2008-06-13 22:42:26

Frank, you’re going to have gather up the reins on these comments, the focus of this post is galloping away. Maybe time for you to just sit down and relax with a nice cold Colt 45?

Comment by jfc
2008-06-14 15:55:58

Hi Candleshoe,

I do understand that both Sarah Jessica Parker and horses have the occasional use of stirrups in common. But I guess that would be a bad tack to take. It could result in someone starting to use hackamores. I better harness in this discussion before it spurs someone on to crop up more about it.

 
 
2008-06-16 19:22:30

Well I guiess its all academic now. The site has come down and may not return:

“We’re sorry, but the site is temporarily closed.

Sarah Jessica Parker has been put out to pasture and she’ll be headed to the glue factory.

Why? Well, since launching this site, the response was so overwhelming it was more than we could handle. And because we were not making any money (the ads were, of course, parodies) we could not afford to keep it running. As a result, we had to temporarily shut down because of the enormous financial strain of the massive traffic the site was attracting.

Thanks to all the thousands of folks who sent us complimentary emails. We hope you had as much fun laughing at our Horse/Sarah comparisons as we did making them.

In the mean time, we’ll try to raise some cash and bring back SJPLLAH soon. But until then, thank you for your interest and good cheer.

Sincerely,

Wilber
Your Stable Master”

Comment by jfc
2008-06-17 00:33:26

Hi Crockpot,

Even as thin as they were I guess it put too much strain on their shared hosting account. It’s too bad. I hope they can come back to horse around some more in the future.

 
 
2008-07-20 05:54:54

I like Sarah Jessica Parker, and I’ve never thought she looks like a horse. There, I said it.

But returning to the point of the post … it’s clever idea if the Google juice would last a while, but I see that as of today at least the page has a gray bar on my Google toolbar.

Comment by jfc
2008-07-23 14:43:30

Hi Refurb,

They’re too new to have PR since the last full toolbar PR update was in February. We will have to see if they have harnessed their wagon to the right horse on the next update.

 
 
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