The internet is an unusual place and, much like the Bermuda Triangle spitting out the occasional 19th century fishing trawler, strange things can happen online. Mysterious things.
Take the BBC News website. In what is either a measure of usability, or an exercise in observing just how the British population spend their time online at work, the BBC helpfully list the five most-read stories on any particular day. Normally, these reflect the main stories of the hour. Occasionally though, a news story from years ago manages to worm its way back into the top five, directly influenced by the number of users clicking through to read it.
The tale of the Sudanese man who married a goat is one such story. It sneaks into the list every six months or so. A report from 2006, it’s the tale of an unfortunate man who was forced to marry a goat after engaging in inappropriate activities with a certain special someone in the owner’s flock.
Three months on from its initial publishing date, 24th February 2006, and the story was a non-mover on the BBC’s most-read stories. Almost three years later and it still rears its head on the most-read list occasionally. A report from the BBC’s tech guru at the time stated that the traffic was genuine and coming from as far afield as France, Australia and India. ‘Rose’ the goat gained so much popularity, the BBC devoted a section of its homepage to commiserate her unfortunate death in 2007.
The story still ranks number one in Google for any combination of a search including the terms ‘goat’, ‘man’, ‘Sudan’, and ‘marriage’.
This poses an interesting question for SEO firms and their writers, offering an interesting insight into what motivates users to read and share information on the internet; why users decide to not only link through to SEO content but also email it to friends, relatives, colleagues and anyone else in need of a cautionary tale of inter-species love.
At theEword, we aim to produce copy with coverage equal to that of Rose and her bipedal lover and, as left-field as this particular example is, it’s a good demonstration that SEO content doesn’t always have to be straight-laced and merely informational in order to get hits and links.
While writing attention-grabbing copy is a crucial aspect of SEO writers’ jobs, the tale of Rose the goat can give us food for thought. It’s the job of an SEO writer to increase traffic to a client’s website and, because of the nature of the internet, our aim is to develop new ways to attract an audience; to make SEO content that people read, enjoy and then link through to.
Or, at the very least, intrigue them enough to Google what 15,000 Sudanese dinars equates to in English pounds.