funny hat*

In this week I prepared something special in our link building technique column: Building links by being ridiculous.

Some people believe that trust, authority and credibility are crucial when it comes to organic link building. Why else would be people want to link back to you? Well, they would because you are ridiculous.

Just last week I advised you not be ridiculous so did I change my mind? No, I mean another kind of ridiculous. You are not meant to be ridiculous by accident. Instead you have to be ridiculous on purpose. Just consider these two famous projects:

You probably know at least one of them and they are truly ridiculous you have to admit. What you may not know is that the man behind The Oatmeal was a quite well known SEO specialist before he started it as a side project which quickly turned out so much money that he ended his career in the SEO industry to focus on being ridiculous full time. Yes, it’s Matthew Inman formely of SEOmoz.

Just take a look at the impressive backlink numbers both sites have in case you don’t know them or don’t believe me yet. According to Blekko icanhascheezburger.com has 730,212 inbound links while The Oatmeal still sports 164,236 incoming links. Not bad is it? As Blekko numbers are quite conservative we better compare them to something we might imagine the link popularity of, SEOmoz.

The probably most popular site in the SEO industry has 259,690 backlinks. So given the fact that Matthew Inman left SEOmoz after four years of existence in 2007 he gained so many links with his new venture in half the time that SEOmoz had for their link building. As far as I can see The Oatmeal is still a one man show so that makes it even more impressive. I can has Cheezburger is a 30 million dollar venture capital business now. That’s as much as Tumblr received this year as well. Tumblr is one of the biggest blogging sites on the Web today, even bigger than WordPress. Back when I can has Cheezburger started it was also just run by two people.

Ridiculous = memorable

So now that you see it works the only logical question now is: I can has links? Yes, you can has! You don’t have to be ridiculous full time. Sometimes just a tiny bit of ridiculousness can help you quite a bit. For instance my avatar is so ridiculous that over the years I’ve become one of the most recognizable figures in the SEO industry, at least online. I have considered changing the avatar to look more trustworthy but by now the ridiculous Mexican with the huge white sombrero and fake sideburns is already too famous to abandon it.

Ridiculous = outstanding

Not everybody can afford to be ridiculous and still look good. One way to be ridiculous is by poking fun at somebody. The best person to poke fun at to be ridiculous is you. I’ve been successfully ridiculing myself in the past numerous times. I have written blog posts like 57 reasons not to read my blog. I could do it beacuse the blog was outstanding enough to stand such a posts ridiculing itself. Also being ridiculous on purpose is outstanding by itself. People are taken off guard. I remember a guy I knew from Chicago who went to anti-war demonstrations. As the police in the US does not like people protesting and many protestors have been arrested for next to nothing he had one advice for me: Wear a ridiculous hat! Everybody will notice you but nobody will know what you are up to.

Ridiculous = courageous

These days everything is ridiculous. Just watch TV for a few minutes, consider trillions for bank bailouts or browse the Web randomly for a while.  We’re so used to it that we don’t even notice it anymore. What? Another financial crisis? Another country bankrupt? Who cares. So it takes courage and lots of effort to even try to be ridiculous enough to get noticed. You can be ridiculous where nobody expects it. Just look at the group postings I’m sometimes part of. Everybody is pictured with their real life serious or friendly looking images. I’m the only guy who has a ridiculous avatar.

Ridiculous = trustworthy

So you see, people will notice you because you’re ridiculous and then wonder “How can this guy get away with it?”. Once they realize you can and why they will adore you and respect you, not because you’re trustworthy and boring but because you can be ridiculous without having to be ashamed of it. As long as the core of your message is truthful you can dress it up in a ridiculous costume. In the past when monarchies ruled the world the jerk aka court jester was the only one who was allowed to say the truth. To this day people trust the jerks. Just consider some late night show hosts.

Ridiculous = hilarious

Most people love to laugh. Laughing at the computer screen is very difficult. Usually you laugh with other people when you’re laid back in the evening or during the weekend. So here you are staring at the screen and laughing. This is really hard to accomplish so you are so glad and thankful that you want to share the experience with others. You spread the word on social media and link back to the ridiculous aka hilarious page.

There is no blueprint on how to be successfully ridiculous on purpose.

You have to find out in your won niche, industry or country. First try by adding conventional humor to your average post or article. You can use colloquial language. Exaggerate. Use funny names for yourself and your products. Just think of Google and their data liberation front.

One day you’ll become ridiculous in the most positive sense of it. Then the overall success will be astonishing. Return on that day and comment here please. Tell the others how you did it. I can has links? Yes, you can has!

* CC image by Sharyn Morrow.