Before you read on I want to confirm I am political neutral on here, but when something happens that impacts SEO and rankings I like to analyse.
Earlier this week Boris Johnson (running to be UK Prime Minster) appeared on a radio show and was chatting to their Political editor. The talk got around what he likes to do when he wants to relax and unwind after a stressful day. What he said came as a bit of shock.
Full interview Video here.
So much so, all of the recent news headlines has been about his more unusual past time, making model buses.
However, is this is his actual hobby or was it a very clever PR stunt to alter the Google rankings.
When someone sent me a screenshot of the Google rankings it got my attention.
This is why I got interested.
Boris Johnson has a bit of history with buses, well one major bus to be precise. During the Brexit referendum he stood in front of a bus with the slogan “We send the EU £350 million a week” and until this week whenever he you searched for Boris and Bus you can image what stories appeared on Google.
More recently this was brought up again when it was found to be inaccurate. This was covered by all the major UK press including the BBC, Guardian etc.
With him running to be Prime Minster he doesn’t want bad publicity appearing at the top of Google and needed it removing. There was no way the British Press was going to remove the articles and realistically he couldn’t produce enough content on other sites to out rank it. Sites like the BBC are pretty hard to beat.
How Boris’ Comments Affected Rankings
So his passing comments about his past time was unusual, the mains news sites started writing about his pastime including the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent, Huffington Post, the Express, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, The London Economic, and many, many more are dominating the news section of Google, all referring to him and his supposed new hobby.
Every single one of these articles have one thing in common – his name and the word Bus.
Google Before the Radio Show was all negative press about him.
So he basically used the press against themselves to de rank some bad press. Not bad for someone who plays the daft person.
How can you use this tactic?
Firstly, its very unlikely you will be having a client which is running for Prime Minister – but the principles you can use. This can be used for both reputation management or acquiring new backlinks to a website.
This can be both used for brands and individuals.
If the goals of the campaign is to improve a person image, well this would be classed as highly successful – its pushed negative press off page 1 off Google. You just need to get the same press which is talking negatively about you to write something more favourable or at least not as bad.
If this was a link building campaign, then it’s highly successful – the majority of the above press link back to the original source.
If this was a campaign you was doing you would want that piece of content on your own domain to acquire the links, but Boris goal wasn’t backlinks it was reputation management on a very specific issue.
So was it successful:
Earlier this week, if you typed into Google “Boris Bus” you would have received news coverage and tweets all about the Brexit bus or the failure of bendy buses in London when he was Mayor.
Now if you do a search in Google (see image above) and remember SEO is a long term strategy not an overnight strategy, but all of page 1 results are about the his new hobby and not the Brexit bus.
Yes, this might change in the coming days as the older news articles have more history in them, but in the short term its been a very clever strategy by Boris.
Whether this was a deliberate attempt (and I think it was) by Boris Johnson to improve his image in Google or not, it was successful.
Do you think this was a clever SEO strategy or a bit of luck?