Linkbait, Clickbait and SEO Lies

Creative Lies for Linkbait and Clickbait

I am a fan of Dan Ariely and have been for several years. The first book I read of his was Predictably Irrational. This book helped me understand the contradiction between the gift economy and the cash economy – and why people do so many irrational things.

One of the irrational things that humans do is lie.

In Dan’s recent Netflix release called (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies – you will learn all about lying in its many forms.

One of the topics I did not expect to be covered in this documentary is how to lie in order to get links from people.

At minute 20, the scientists discuss how lying and creativity seem to go hand-in-hand for the evil genius. In this story, they interviewed a PR publicist for Tucker Max, author of ‘I hope They Serve Beer In Hell’.

During the publicity campaign for Tucker’s book – his publicist noticed that OpieRadio linked a lot to Tucker Max. When he queried Max about the links, Max told him he lied to the radio podcast site by pretending to be fans, haters, and trolls.

Max Tucker:

“I just send them fake emails pretending to be either a fan of my stuff or hating my stuff, and I trick them into linking about me.”

The PR guy decided:

“If that worked with this site, would it work with these bigger sites?”

And it did.


Creating controversy to get media attention is nothing really new.

Link building and getting links is nothing new to SEO. In order to get links controversy in many forms is used as link bait and click bait.

But I had never considered how powerful a ‘controversy-driven’ PR link building campaign could be. His offensive book sold a ton of copies.

But that is not what I found interesting.

What was interesting is that these initial SEO efforts were the gasoline for a much larger fire including news interviews on major news networks and other media coverage that spurred sales through the roof.

And apparently, nobody really likes this author. Or very few. This is probably because the PR campaign stirred the pot by blatantly baiting controversy that objectified women and other terribly crass and insensitive topics.

I have always been a student of Lies. But with the topic of link baiting and click baiting, it is disturbing to know that guys like this, and his PR agent, are getting links really easily by lying and creating controversy – while many SEO experts could not get a link from a DA 80 or 90 website (for free) even to save their lives.

In the end, the house of cards came down on these guys – as such link baiting lies were ultimately exposed and Max was called out on live television and radio.

But if you like neuroeconomics and behavioral economics (along with SEO) you might enjoy watching the movie on Netflix.

SEO Lies and Linkbait - DisHonesty: The Truth About Lies

It’s human nature to lie; we all do it! From scandalous headlines to little white lies, (Dis)Honesty – The Truth About Lies explores the complex impact dishonesty has on our lives and everyday society. Interweaving groundbreaking experiments from celebrated behavioral economist Dan Ariely with personal stories from individuals affected by the unraveling of their lies, Ariely and a team of scientists uncover our propensity to be dishonest-sometimes even unknowingly. What’s revealed is a fascinating look at the forces behind our collective behavior and the many truths behind lies. (C) Bond360
Documentary , Drama
Directed By:
Yael Melamede
Written By:
Yael Melamede , Chad Beck