Lessons in Linkbait: 7 Things Sonoma Has in Common with a Unicorn

Because I’ve relinquished all private information about myself to the faceless confessional of Facebook’s privacy policy, the social network can ascertain with relative certainty what sort of online advertising might appeal to me. Me being someone identified as a 25-to-40-year-old, married media professional who lives in Northern California, born under the sign of Cancer, with one child and who prefers blogs over chats.

When not reducing my data and me with the blunted specificity of a personals ad, Facebook is trying to sell me services it thinks might appeal to me. The services often do, especially those that suggest how I might brush up my online persona, which, given my schedule of deadlines and diapers, is my primary means of extending my experience beyond the yam-smeared laptop upon which I,  and now my son, do our writing.

One recent ad read: “Need Catchy Blog Post Ideas?”

Well, hell yeah I do. In fact, I’ll see your “blog post ideas” and raise you “column ideas,” which I will later repurpose as blog ideas because I believe in recycling. You see, it’s not easy being green but it’s even harder being on deadline, let alone on Facebook, with a 1-year-old in one’s lap. Especially one who loves the “caps lock” key because he likes it when the little green light comes on.

My interest and laziness equally piqued, I clicked the ad and was delivered to the Linkbait Generator. “Linkbait,” by the way, is “search engine optimization” jargon for content on a blog or website that entices readers to place links to it on their own blog or website.

Inbound links to one’s content boosts its rankings on search engines: the more links to your content, the more important search engines such as Google perceive the content to be, resulting in better placement, exposure and eventual online celebrity.

So, given that my local writing is chiefly concerned with the vicissitudes of Sonoma, CA, I typed “Sonoma” into the generator. Behold, Sonoma-themed headlines as refracted through the cracked lens of a text-bot:

• The 10 commandments of Sonoma.

• 5 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Sonoma.

• 7 things Sonoma has in common with a unicorn.

• 9 ways Sonoma can help a total sissy survive in prison.

• 8 ways Sonoma could help you survive a zombie outbreak.

• Is Sonoma treated unfairly in the USA?

• 8 ways men try using Sonoma to get laid.

• 6 bits of Sonoma advice that will land you in the hospital.

• 10 surprising ways Sonoma will be different in 20 years.

• 8 ways Sonoma has been involved in political scandals.

The above 10 blog title suggestions are reprinted here in the order in which they were generated and have not been enhanced in anyway. I mean, how could one improve upon “7 things Sonoma has in common with a unicorn?” I’ve begun my unicorn list already – Number One: Nothing.

Some of the other suggestions, including the “10 surprising ways Sonoma will be different in 20 years,” and “Amazing things you probably didn’t know about Sonoma,” I swear have already been headlines in the Sonoma Index-Tribune. Other suggestions, like “The 10 Commandments of Sonoma,” are worthy of further consideration. The first commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Use Linkbait Generator for column or blog ideas.” The Second Commandment, “Thou Shalt Refrain from Using Facebook while on Deadline.”