SEO might seem cute and fuzzy on the outside, but when you step into this world of bone-chilling horror, you'll find the stuff monsters and nightmares are made of.
Buckle up - it's time for a ride on the terror express.
The Invisible Text
Jim had heard stories of hidden text, but he always dismissed them as mere tales meant to scare little children and dogs. One day in the computer lab at school, Tony motioned for Jim to come over.
“My dad told me that in the old days, people used to make text the same color as the background. They didn’t think they were hurting anybody. Turns out, the bot knew about it.”
“The... BOT ...knew?” Jim asked, scared stiff.
“That’s right. But my dad told me that it still happens sometimes. He gave me a URL, and I’m going to see if it’s really as bad as they say.” Jim got up to run, but Tony grabbed his sweater and pulled him back. In what seemed like a whirlwind, Tony typed in the URL, highlighted the big empty space at the bottom of the page, and then….
The screams had faded by the time the principle arrived. But the frozen expressions of terror would remain imprinted in his memory for the remaining years of his life.
The Keyword Tag
It was Anne’s first day on the job at GrayishBlack SEO Company. Despite the pleadings of her friends and family, she took the job, knowing what horrors might lay ahead.
“We don’t waste time around here,” her director shouted from his office. “I need you to get on that site optimization double ASAP. Oh, and I don’t want to scare you on your first day, but the site was built in 1997.”
“Come again?” Anne asked as she turned toward the director, her eyelids opening three times as wide as usual.
She nervously turned on her computer, taking as much time as possible. The checklist on her desk glared at her, for she knew what she’d find as the first to-do. She was assigned to check the dreaded meta keyword tag her loved ones had warned her about. Hoping they were wrong, she viewed the source code.
During police questioning, the director of SEO was visibly shaken. “She just kept screaming and screaming. Over and over, she just kept screaming, 'Five hundred meta keyword variations! Five hundred meta keyword variations!'”
Legend has it, that old and decayed Victorian mansion at the end of Dark Oak Street used to belong to a man they called “Farmer Stone." Tales of this mysterious old hermit haunted the town for at least 30 years before three foolishly curious boys went exploring one October night.
Dark Oak Street wound for two miles before it ended at Farmer Stone’s place. A 10-foot high, rusted gate stood at the entrance to the grounds. The mansion itself was always dark, except on this night. Our young boys would in later years swear they saw a faint greenish light coming out of the bedroom window. Of course, they would make these claims from their padded rooms in the local insane asylum.
There were no farm animals on Farmer Stone’s property, interestingly enough to the boys. According to legend, they crept slowly up to the mansion, dried leaves crackling underfoot. They called inside but received no answer. The front door creaked loudly and the green light became brighter. Trembling with fear, only each other’s taunts kept them moving forward.
What happened next has struck fear in the heart of even the most hardened soul who has heard this tale. The origin of Farmer Stone’s name became horrifyingly apparent to all three boys as they looked into his bedroom. There was the old man, hunched over in his chair, typing furiously on a computer. The boys screamed.
The final pieces of this puzzle can only be found by visiting the asylum where these boys, now old men, are kept in holding. All three of them, with mind-numbing fury, scribble out two words on their cell walls. Over and over again, they write: LINK FARM. LINK FARM. LINK FARM. LINK FARM. LINK FARM.
Alvin was a valuable asset to the company. His boss told him the 12-hour days were excessive, but Alvin knew he had the corporate ladder to climb. When his SEO company got that big, coveted contract with the hardest charging company in the city, Alvin was the natural choice to take the reins.
“Now Alvin, I know you like to be thorough on your calls, but I’m just warning you that these guys will keep you on the phone all day if you let them.” The boss knew a little something about the client, so he offered this advice for Alvin’s own good.
“Don’t you worry," Alvin assured his boss. “I’m not scared of an hour long phone call. You just leave these guys to me.” With those words, and the clock striking 4 O'clock, he picked up the phone and dialed the number.
Alvin’s right hand man was slow getting into the office on the day after a holiday. The receptionist wasn’t there yet, so he started the long walk back to his oversized cubicle.
“Sweet mother of the kraken,” he gasped as he looked down the open space toward Alvin’s desk. There lay the man, telephone cord wrapped around his neck.
After the ambulance was gone, Ned looked at Alvin’s phone records, curious to know what could have prompted this awful event. Time of last call: 15 hours.
Anthony never intended it to go this far. He had 10 years of experience in SEO, so industry jargon flowed out of his mouth freely like cool spring water out of an artesian well. Nobody knew why he liked to pound the newbies with jargon until they were so frustrated they couldn’t do their work. It was just his thing, and he wasn’t going to change.
Every employee at SearchMyEngine.com knew it was bad news when Sam got hired. He was one of those guys that became startled at anything. You couldn’t walk up behind the guy without him jumping with fear. Anthony saw a victim and smiled a black-toothed grin.
“Hey Sam! You need to optimalize that hypertext preprocessor I gave you for indexability so the spiders can start crawling the http destination accessibility protocol!”
“S-s-spiders?” Sam tremblingly responded.
“Yeah,” Anthony shot back. “If you don’t fix that site for the search spiders, something bad will happen. Really bad.” Anthony walked away smiling. He knew he really nailed that one.
The rest of the week, Sam worked in a cold sweat. Friday arrived, and he began to think he would escape his first week without any sign of spiders or other crawling insects. From a distance, Anthony watched in eager anticipation as Sam turned on his computer. Black screen to blue. Blue screen to Windows login screen. Login screen to……..black widow desktop wallpaper. A piercing scream filled the office.
Anthony never intended to cause Sam to go into cardiogenic shock. Yet as he stood there above Sam’s helpless body, waiting for the paramedics to arrive, he felt that biting sting of regret. Somewhere behind him, an employee’s face went pale.
“Are those … black widows crawling out of Sam’s ears?”
Timmy’s dad came home with fury in his eyes. “Those sons o’ b****es at Stoogle banned my site! They sent me to the sandbox!”
“What’s the sandbox?” Timmy innocently inquired.
“It’s a bad, bad place where hobgoblins and witches live. They’ll suck your site in and feast on its bones if you’re not careful!” Timmy walked upstairs to his room, visions of haunted sandboxes swimming in his head.
The next day at school, Timmy’s teacher announced that in an effort to get to know more local businesses, they were taking a field trip to Stoogle headquarters. Timmy raised his hand.
“What about the hobgoblins and witches that live in the sandbox?”
Timmy’s teacher grew impatient. “There’s no such thing as the sandbox. It’s an old wives tale, and it’s never been proven to exist. You’re going to Stoogle, and you’re going to like it!”
Stoogle headquarters was a gigantic place, constructed in the old Romanian architectural style of Dracula’s castle. Timmy carried his red bouncy ball, as always. The tour began, and the children followed their teacher down long, cold hallways. Completely by accident, Timmy’s ball fell from his hand, rolling down a hallway to the right as the field trip turned to the left.
“I need that ball,” Timmy told himself. He turned right, breaking into a run. The ball rolled for a half mile before coming to a halt in front of a huge black door. Timmy put his ear up to the door and heard what could only be described as the groanings of the damned.
Startled at the sound, Timmy backed away and got a better view of the door. Inscribed in blood were the words “BANISHED TO THIS HALL BE THE SITES OF THOSE ACCURSED SPAMMERS, DECEIVERS, LIARS, AND REDIRECTERS”
Timmy looked at his feet and saw sand.
This was the last straw. SEO director Gray hired outsourced copywriters to save time, but they had been causing him nothing but problems since day one. He needed a better way to generate content, and fast.
Gray had just hired a new assistant director, Boynton, who was failing miserably. Boynton got wind of this outsourcing fiasco and knew he could redeem himself in Gray’s eyes.
“So, I think I have way to really knock our content generation out of the park.”
“Is that right?” Gray doubtfully said.
“I’ve just been made aware of a piece of content software that will generate 5,000 unique articles from one original. The technology is cutting edge. It practically thinks for itself.” Boynton got Gray’s approval and purchased the software.
Monday morning arrived and Gray parked his Benz in the director’s space. As he came closer to the front door, he thought he heard what sounded like a war movie coming from the SEO floor. A split second later, Boynton came crashing through the front window, shards of glass flying in all directions.“The content generator is self aware! It’s destroying everything in the office!”
Gray ran inside and vomited. Content Generator was chewing on SEO employees. He was heaving computers through windows. All the while, article variations flew out of his printer belly. “Two mmmmillion, nine hundred thousand the thrrrrreee!” Content Generator growled. It was chaos. Pure chaos.
Two weeks later, after the smoke had cleared the the rubble cleaned up, Gray and Boynton sat down at their laptops. Boynton broke the silence.
“Well, I guess the only question now is where are we going to find two-million-three-hundred-thousand directories to submit all this content to?”
Gray lifted his arm and smacked Boynton in the back of the head.