If you want to succeed in anything, you have to be able to communicate. In the early days of web marketing, it was all about technical trickery, but in 2014, it’s all about messages and ideas.

This is where I muse, assert and explain the trends and new phenomena in online marketing, from social through to search. If you want to talk to me about improving your message, just fire me a quick hello and I’ll get back to you within a day.

Johnny Foreigner & Hype Management

Hype Management is probably the name of an agency somewhere in London. I apologise to them profusely.

Johnny Foreigner are an absolutely brilliant indie-punx band from Bi(u)rmingham, UK. Their debut LP Waited Up ‘Til It Was Light was a blistering but weirdly tender plummet down off-kilter guitars and since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength, culminating in the phenomenal, all-encompassing, what-is-being-young Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything in 2011. Lex, Kel, Jun & Lewes are incredible live, too.

They’re the sort of band where calling them hard-working seems a bit shoddy, because they so blatantly don’t see music as a job and that adjective is usually reserved for people like Elbow who aren’t that special but release a lot of music, but they absolutely work damn, damn hard, on top of being enormously talented and very special indeed.

More than anything, though, they’re clever. I’ve heard their new album, You Can Do Better, and it’s sublime. It’s a record that’s as thrilling as it is sweet, and ninth track “Le Schwing” is so joyous it hurts. I’ll be covering the new album for By Volume in the coming week, and I hope to be a tiny part of a huge explosion of love, the simultaneous glow that lights up the Internet when something new and exciting is clickable, is shareable, is like(love!)able. You Can Do Better is out March 10th, and the band are desperate to bottle up the waiting so that when it fizzes over there’s a real bang. In the past, Johnny Foreigner have distributed fake versions of a record through their fanbase and written at length about the importance of this anticipation for up-and-coming bands like them.

At the time of writing – and to my knowledge – everyone who has heard this album has respected the boundaries that everyone should always respect forever. Fostering a network of people you trust like that is essential to building anticipation in a product or an idea. A couple of years ago, I wrote at length about how I would despair and lay down my arms if Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything didn’t take the mainstream. Here’s to hoping that the pressure building this time shakes the city to its core.



Imagine that the Internet is a planet, and that every website is a plot of land. Now, imagine that your business owns a plot of land in the UK, but that you also want to establish a small building on a plot of land in Algeria. You think that if you can build an outpost in Algeria, people in Algeria will think you’re great. Imagine that you go to Algeria and walk onto a plot of land which is owned by an Algerian farmer, and begin to build your outpost without his permission. Imagine that he gets angry and punches you. Then imagine that the police show up.


This is the rough, stupid end of link-building – the dregs of grey- and black-hat SEO. But the analogy of trespassing and constructing without permission serves its purpose; we can no longer think of link-building as something carried out by an individual for their personal gain. It is, at the very least, a joint venture between two people who own plots of land. I’d go as far as to say that there’s a third party whose participation, or at least consent, we need: the reader.

So what was, for a brief blip, a matter of cunning and guile, suddenly looks an awful lot like traditional marketing. For instance:

  1. We need to be aware of, and sensitive to, the business objectives of others. If a potential partner’s success is reliant upon their credibility, we need to fact-check anything we contribute three times over.
  2. It takes time to build a relationship with trust and understanding. This is not a flash-in-the-pan exercise; a couple of quick emails back and forth will not bring about the kind of partnership we need.
  3. An introduction from a mutual colleague, friend or acquaintance will help us to work better together, as will a face-to-face meeting, or at least a conversation on the phone. When the audience is involved in our thinking, we can’t cut corners on message.
  4. We need to recognise the limitations and be restrained in our co-operation. If two companies support each other all the time, it looks strange to real humans and it looks strange to search engines. What’s newsworthy or interesting is newsworthy or interesting. What isn’t, isn’t.

This is revolutionary and probably terrifying for the technology companies that have grown and made SEO their domain: an industry notorious for its lack of charisma has suddenly been asked to suit up, shave, and learn to talk to real people about real opportunities for collaboration.

Credit: Aidan Jones

Credit: Aidan Jones

Most or many of them won’t clean up their act, or at least not until it’s too late. Some will be incapable, and others will be unwilling. But the writing is on the wall: the people who will succeed in marketing their websites are the people who know how to talk, how to make deals, how to spot opportunities and how to appeal to their market.

Proper businesses, then.