The Philosophy of Crap Content

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from No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

All of us have visited to ugly looking websites littered with ads and unreadable content…and we’ve likely cursed their existence since the intentions of the webmaster are so obvious (get a bunch of people to click on the ads).  We know this strategy works since the web is littered with these derivative sites (and many of us have a little personal experience of creating and working with them, though we might not care to admit it).

After all, the philosophy behind their creation is quite seductive…if the content sucks, the visitor focuses on the ads which are hopefully compelling enough to garner one or more clicks.  Yet, the contrast between their ugly aesthetics combined with poor writing offends the sensibilities of the great majority of folks, scaring them off and minimizing the monetization potential for the webmaster.


However, with a little time and careful planning, the “crap” can be turned into a higher art form, increasing its potential to make income.

In order for “crap” to succeed and optimally monetize for the webmaster, it needs to appear, at least on the surface, to be indistinguishable from conventional sites that are brought into existence to drive sales and leads.  The “crap” site must have a professional design, be well written and offer (at least) the illusion of different conversion paths for the visitor to explore.

Something needs to be missing though…the answer to the searcher’s needs.  The typical conversion mechanisms either aren’t there or aren’t quite relevant.  The webmaster shuts off all forms of site exit (besides the URL bar and the back button), trapping the visitor in an indefinite loop where the end to their quest remains ever-so-slightly elusive.  After the visitor futilely examines the information presented, they examine the alternatives…the ads.

On a well-created “crap” site, the ads aren’t garish, but blend in naturally with the remainder of the content.   The webmaster uses a minimalistic approach in their placement…as truly professional sites don’t stress third party monetization over their own offerings.    As the site visitor searches in vain for answers, the site content becomes invisible and the ads come to the forefront as a logical alternative that bridges the knowledge gap between the website and the ultimate needs of the searcher.

And the webmaster gets paid…


Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland,... Read Full Bio
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  • Anonymous

    I don’t get the Don Cherry picture. If you are suggesting that Cherry is all dressed up to cover the fact that his “content” is “crap”, I suggest your analysis is incorrect. Cherry does have content and it is not “crap” as you have defined it here (“unreadable”, “derivative”, “sucks”, “poor writing”). Some people like what he says and others don’t – and his flambouyant appearance just accentuates the fact that he is outspoken.

    Just because flash and sizzle are often associated with crap does not mean that every time you see flash and sizzle the associated content is crap. That would be a logical error called “affirming the consequent”.

    • Todd Mintz

      Don Cherry is awesome…his sport coat isn’t though…it reminds me of the sorts of crappy content I see on a regular basis :.)

  • shendison

    Clearly the Don Cherry pic was to emphasize the phrases in two previous lines, “…ugly aesthetics…” and “…offends the sensibilities of the great majority of folks…”

  • Anonymous

    Really superb.. Awesome post..
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  • glass jewelry

    Sounds like “crap” when transformed into a “trap” is bordering “click fraud”.

  • Deep Ripples Bill

    Quite likely the first ever Sartre quote on an SEO blog. Congratulations! I’m also reminded of a friend who often reminds me that you can’t shine a turd.

  • Kannan M

    This posting is very interesting and It’s really a pleasure to go through your posts……..Thanks for this great post.

  • Maximum Inheritance

    Crap is, crap, gimmicry will not disguise it.

  • smith greal

    One of the only negatives of owning a reasonably successful business is that I get inundated with phone calls from people that I don’t know, who generously want to help me grow my business.

  • Tim

    I want that jacket!

  • Aden

    Say what you will, this point makes a good point. Even if you don’t necessarily make exit impossible, making it difficult and seamlessly integrating ads in such a way that they seem like a reasonable option is definitely a way to make some money…

  • Tim

    Indeed a very shrewd use of images to get the point through, nice article.

  • Richard

    Tim, I bet you don’t really want that jacket!