Riding the digital death traffic train

Posted on 31. Mar, 2011 by in Stats & Trends



With Jackie Chan unfortunately passing away recently, I thought I would brighten everyone’s spirits (no pun intended) and touch on the subject of the dead, and how it influences our digital lives. Grim Reaper

Being a fan of Jackie Chan, I took my quest to Google to reminisce his death by watching some of his classic martial arts scenes. He done most of his own stunts, I hear – brave man.

Much to my amazement, Google’s related searches suggested that Britney Spears was also dead. Two of my favourite celebrities dead in one week; traumatic to say the least.

Not believing everything I read online, I delved (more searched) a little further to uncover… these were malicious rumours. Damn you social media for the momentary heartache you caused me.

Working in digital marketing, I’ve grown a keen eye for a way to generate traffic. I sickly, one would argue, searched Google for a few high profile celebrities to uncover if anyone was ‘riding the digital death traffic train’ and adopting what I like to call – Grim Reaper SEO.

Grim Reaper SEO is the (silly term I just coined) process of registering a domain, creating some optimised copy, maybe adding few pictures and links with the intent that when a celebrity dies, search engines favour and rank your established website over others (Google has always liked diverse search results). With death being such a hot topic online, the website has the potential to rank and receive tremendous volumes of traffic. Through in some AdSense or affiliate links and you’ve made a mint.

Much to my (un)surprisement, this technique occurs:

  • Britney Spears, dead.
  • Justin Bieber, dead.
  • Lady Gaga, dead.

I mean come on, I know Britney has had a hard time over the years (skinhead springs to mind), but she’s nowhere near dead. Even worse, Justin Bieber is only 17 years old and someone’s registered his ‘death-domain©’. The life expectancy of Canadian’s is 80.4 years; if Statistics Canada is correct, and a .com stays £5.00 per year, the owner may need to invest £317 until the poor lad passes away. Let’s not forget that the domain registrar is betting he outlives Justin (that’s right, we’re on first name terms now).

Morale of the Story

Future trends bring traffic; death, break-ups, products, events, celebrities – the list is endless. Michael Jackson’s death is a prime example. With any of the above, there is likely volcanic demand, albeit only for a small time. That demand is open to any website e.g. a free-for-all. You don’t need to have 1 million links, 10/10 Quality Score or 10,000 followers, you just need to be first (or there about).

Now being first isn’t as easy as it sounds; you’ve got the whole internet to compete with, but structuring your digital marketing efforts in this manner take away, like we describe, a lot of obstacles marketers often see. Rather than chasing the ‘holy grail’ of a keyword, schtop, and consider fighting your battles elsewhere where the odds are even.

Newspapers and blogs target trends well, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a news feed or write blog posts. Be creative, think Universal.

What say you; will you be registering a ‘death-domain©’ in the near future?

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  • MJG

    Probably make more sense to do a hugh hefner dead domain or at least celebrities who are older than you! Innovative approach for SEOs to consider and clients would obviously have to be onboard.

    • Michael Thomson

      That’s it MJG, go after the oldies! Don’t know about Heff though… the grim reaper can’t touch that man ;)