I was amused when the organization of Tony Robbins, famous motivational speaker, asked me for a web link to boost his SEO, because I’m a human who tends to do perverse things when you treat me like a machine.
Here’s the email I received:
Subject: You Mentioned Tony Robbins [Thank you]
From: Ignite Visibility <Ignite@tonyrobbins.com>
Hi there Josh,
Thank you very much for mentioning Tony Robbins in your post here: https://withoutbullshit.com/blog/enjoy-journey-not-just-destination
If it is not too much trouble, could you do us a huge favor of adding a link to his website so your audience can learn more about Tony, please?
Tony’s personal website is here: https://www.tonyrobbins.com
Either way, keep up the great work! Thanks for your time.
Xxxxx Xxxx (on behalf of Tony Robbins)
As my correspondent (whose name I’ve redacted) pointed out, I did, indeed mention Tony Robbins in a blog post. The passage wasn’t particularly complimentary. Here’s what I had written:
This competitive instinct is baked into our culture. Corporations run on it. We are supposed to set “big hairy audacious goals” (also known as BHAGs) for ourselves and our teams. Self-help gurus from Gary Vaynerchuk to Tony Robbins spur us on to squash our doubts and shoot for our dreams. Each of us that hopes for success is supposed to clamber over all the other ordinary people and shout “I did it!”
You never hear from the people who try to do this and fail. You only hear from the ones who succeed. This makes it sound like taking risks and aiming high are all it takes to win. This is the paradox of hindsight, and it’s corrosive.
I don’t think about Tony Robbins much, but he served nicely as a generic example of blowhards who blather on about success and inflame the seething desire to get ahead no matter what.
But hey, he wants a link.
Why this is a stupid request
The poor sucker who sent this email is a guy in the Philippines who will boost your links at $30 per hour. I’ve corresponded with him and he’s a real person with a LinkedIn page and Medium posts. And he and his friends are clearly sending out many, many such requests to boost the Tony Robbins SEO (search engine optimization).
But this request is just dopey. Tony Robbins doesn’t need an SEO boost on his name.
What do you see when you search “Tony Robbins” on Google? I tested it in incognito mode (to eliminate bias from my past searches) and saw this:
- A boxed identity result for a prominent person. This includes photos, biographical info from Wikipedia, quotes, books, and links to his social media accounts.
- The top search result is tonyrobbins.com
- Next are a Tony Robbins TED Talk and two official Tony Robbins videos on YouTube. This is followed by:
- Tony’s Twitter.
- Tony on Wikipedia.
- Tony’s Facebook page.
- Tony’s YouTube.
- A highly complimentary article in Inc., “How Tony Robbins Created an Empire by Being the Most Confident Man on Earth”
- Tony’s LinkedIn page.
- Finally, at the bottom of the search page, an uncomplimentary Forbes article, “Tony Robbins Is An Even Bigger Jerk Than You Thought, But You Can Still Learn From Him,” and a blog post called “Why I Walked Out on Tony Robbins“
Let’s imagine for a moment that my correspondent was successful — that he got, say 1,000 people who mentioned Tony Robbins to add links to his Web page.
How would that affect the order of the pages I listed?
Not one iota.
Tony Robbins’ page is always going to rank at the top, and so will the other pages and accounts listed here. That is, unless someone publishes a news article called “Tony Robbins smothers puppies and laughs about it while snorting cocaine,” in which case that might rank at the top for a while, regardless of any SEO effort.
It takes a special kind of narcissism to be this famous and beg for more links
So what did this email accomplish?
Tony Robbins (or someone in his organization) recruited a human to reach out to other humans to serve the needs of an algorithm.
But the human on the other end — me — isn’t just an unthinking robot. I write about crap like this.
So now the blog post I just wrote will probably rank on the search “Tony Robbins SEO.” And anyone clicking on it will get a little peek into the workings of the Tony Robbins machine. (Try it. You’ll boost my SEO).
Some SEO strategies make sense. But people aren’t machines. It tends to backfire when you treat them like they are.
Oh, and for the poor sucker who emailed me, here’s your link: Tony Robbins is a fool.