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15 SEO lessons from hard rock & metal


(AC/DC made songs about SEO long before Rand Fishkin learnt the Hokey Pokey)

By Kåre Garnes@kaaregarnes

SEO Lessons from hard rock & metal

Ever wondered how much longer it will be before your SEO efforts are yielding results?

So was a client of mine, frustrated by seeing only minor improvements three months in. Knowing he’s an avid fan of aussie rockers AC/DC, I ditched the standard explanation of all the variables that affect rankings and how “SEO is a long term strategy” and blah blah – and instead I quoted Bon Scott to him:

It’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock’n’roll)

Inspired by his positive reaction I dug deeper into my collection of hard rock and metal to see if there were further teachings to be found and shared.

There was.
(You will find a link to all the music at the bottom of this post.)

1: Hallowed Be Thy Name – Iron Maiden

Maiden‘s classic number points to one of the most important and often overlooked SEO factors: A good name.

Your brand or company name can be a free ride into SEO happiness. Choose a name with your location and keyword in it, like “Oslo SEO” or “Hotel Tupelo” and your natural URLs, title tags and incoming links will automatically give you an advantage.

This requires only a willingness to be a bit boring when choosing a name …

2: Good head – Turbonegro

Norwegian denim-rockers Turbonegro weren´t talking about title tags and meta descriptions when they wrote this deathpunk anthem, but few bands know know more about importance of image and presentation than these underground favourites.

Remember that SEO is not about getting to the top of the rankings, but to get the users interacting and buying. How you look on the Search Engine Result Page determines how successful you are.

That process starts with what’s inside your head-tag. So put some work into making good titles and meta descriptions.

3: Lovercall – Danko Jones

According to SEOmoz the number 1 and 2 ranking factors are incoming links.

Not only does this song have one of the best basslines in history, it also hints to one of the easiest ways of getting links; Asking your suppliers, customers, partners, employees and other´s whom you already have an established relationship to. Ask and you shall receive.

Pick up the phone or shoot them an email: Learn the lovercall, baby.

4: Don’t stop believing – Journey


Doing white hat SEO takes time, especially if competition is strong. And when you´ve done all you can and rankings don´t seem to move, this absolute legend of a song can provide some consolation.

It´s a long way to the top.

5: You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ – Judas Priest

Juda Priest Rob Halford on a MC
Google Panda, Google +, Google Places, Google This, Google That.

The only thing certain in the world of search engine optimization is that there will be changes and new stuff you have to learn and employ. SEO means staying updated and agile.

Or as singer Rob Halford puts it in this megahit: “it’s a case of do or die”. You got another thing coming.

6: Fear of the dark – Iron Maiden

Should Black hat seo be feared?

Employing it can potentially put you out of business if Google find out (and does something about it), so yes. Be sceptical about black hat techniques.

However, don’t be so afraid that you don’t dare getting to know it. You should know your enemy. There might be techniques there that can also be employed ethically.

7: Take it off – The Donnas

SEO is not about rankings, but about getting searchers to find your content and do what you want them to do, whether it is to buy, download, like or read.

If you have content that is not doing this, listen to these fine female rockers advice: Take it off!

Rule of thumb: Anything that doesn´t contribute to you reaching your goals, ACTIVELY contributes to you NOT reaching them.

8: Speed King – Deep Purple

Speed is an important factor for Google – and for users! Google openly states that their main goal is to get people the info they want as fast as possible.

This means not only making sure your load time is superfast, it also means that you should use rich snippets to allow google to put you right on the SERP. (Disclaimer: If your business is clicks: Think twice before using rich snippets)

9: Hellbelly (Jesus without the suffering) – Therapy?

Therapy? Troublegum cover
Troublegum might be the most underrated album in the history of music and in SEO context it gives a number of valuable lessons.

The first is about linkbuilding. Some think you can do SEO without linkbuilding and if you a unice offer and an abundance of creative resources at hand you might. But a competitor with the same resources and a willingness to suffer through linkbuilding will outrank you.

You cannot be an SEO savior without the suffering.

10: Trigger inside – Therapy?

Troublegum´s second lesson is that SEO is about not about rankings, but conversions, and you will never get any unless you have a “trigger inside”.

You need something that makes people take action. This includes urgency factors, uniqueness and simply being clear about what you want people to do.

Without triggers, people will procratrinate.

11: Green Manalishi – Fleetwood Mac/Judas Priest

This amazing Peter Green classic – done even more amazingly by Priest – has a fantastic line about user experience:

“You come creeping around, making me do things I don´t wanna do”

With Panda the user experience has – thankfully – become an important factor for search rankings, and we need to make sure we don´t mess up the user experience by having flash intro’s, uneccesary form fields and having users jump through hoops to get where they want.

12: Giving the dog a bone – AC/DC

Angus Young og AC/DC
Linkbaiting is a fantastic tactic, but often companies never get around to this as they think it’s about creating “viral” videos.

It´s not. It’s about giving people tools, infographics, videos etc. = content they need in a format they want. Throw them a bone and links will follow.

13: Have a drink on me – AC/DC

Isn’t it amazing how many songs AC/DC have made about SEO? In this 1980 classic they explore the concept of freemium.

The idea that people will like you better if you give them free alcohol is easy to understand, and if you have ever engaged in this activity at your local you might also have noticed that people tend to buy you alcohol back – and throw in a shot.

In the SEO world this translates into you giving away something of value, like a report, a tool, knowledge – and people will say thank you in form of links, PR, social shares etc.

Free alcohol is a brilliant strategy to gather a huge following.

14: Diamond in the rough – Airbourne

As stated earlier, SEO is about conversions and the conversions are more likely found in the long tail. Trick is to find keywords with good traffic and low competion. So do propper keyword research and find those diamonds in the rough.

15: Aggressive Perfector – Slayer

The first song thrash gods Slayer ever recorded teaches us to always be testing – and to appreciate good guitar work!

Thing is, to really succeed online is to always be looking for that little something that increases conversions. Be an aggresive perfector.

Bonus lesson

Remember: The most important teaching to take away from the distinguished gentlemen and women of hard rock and metal is – of course – to:

Please leave a comment with – or without – your favourite metal song with SEO connotations before you head over to youtube to listen through all the wonderful songs above on my SEO Metal playlist. (play all – opens in new tab)

You should also follow me on twitter @kaaregarnes

Posted in Featured, SEO


  1. Christian Rygh:Reply

    Best piece ever on SEO. Shredding and lickin’!

  2. fantomaster:Reply

    As they say in rock ‘n roll: cool shit, dude! :)

  3. Tarjei:Reply

    Awesome! Let’s get it up (the ranking) comes to mind as a goal for SEO :-)

  4. Kåre Garnes:Reply

    @tarjei:AC/DC are SEO masters. Let me put my love into you (Guest blogging), Dirty deeds done dirt cheap (outsourcing SEO to India), Put the finger on you (Smartphone optimizing), Moneytalks (Adwords), Love at first feel (bounce rates), Gimme a bullet (text optimization), touch too much (bad link) and they even made a song about Fantomaster (Bedlam in Belgium)

  5. Creative Morons:Reply

    Hvor fikk du kjøpt bandbildene?

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  13. Arto:Reply

    Hehee, great one! I know this old classic isn’t really my favorite, isn’t exactly about SEO and it isn’t excactly metal.. but I’d say it’s still close enough to the topic. :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NObvDpQe7k

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  15. Aggi:Reply

    For those about to Rock we salute you:)!!

  16. Gonzo SEO:Reply

    I Shoot To Thrill and I’m TNT! AC/DC

  17. Marten:Reply

    Didn’t we miss: Looking out for number one – Twisted Sisters :0)

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