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The author

Andy Heaps

Group Operations Director

As I headed into work this morning, I heard a story on BBC News about the online dating site BeautifulPeople.com. Apparently they have been hit by a virus which allowed ‘tens of thousands of ugly people’ to access the site. In light of the recent Sony Playstation hacks, this story, to most people, including the mainstream media, is just another cyber-security story. Of course, anyone involved in search should see right through this. Beautiful People is well known for its elaborate PR / hoax style linkbait, probably the most famous of which was BeautifulPeople.com axes holiday weight gain members. With coverage - and more importantly links - from high quality sources such as the BBC (including priceless quotes such as “Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model”) - and many other reputable news sources, this was undoubtedly a massive success! So much so that Dixon of Majestic SEO regularly references this in his conference presentations!

And with this latest PR stunt they have done it again! At the time of writing, bearing in mind there will likely be a lot of coverage to follow, they have 106 significant news publications covering the story, including the BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian and Fox News. Hats off to the PR team at BeautifulPeople – another successful piece of controversy linkbait, playing on the recent cyber-hacks that have been so well documented by the nation’s news publications. It’s too soon to analyse just how successful a link acquisition exercise it has been, but from the sites I’ve found linking back to BeautifulPeople because of the story so far, I think it’s safe to say they’ll be getting a nice natural search boost. I genuinely hope, for the sake of our nations journalistic pride that none of the reports *actually* think this is real... I can’t help but wonder though... I’ll leave you with a few of the best quotes provided to the nation’s press by Beautiful People: ''We got suspicious when tens of thousands of new members were accepted over a six-week period, many of whom were no oil painting'' 'We responded immediately, repairing the damage from the Shrek virus” ''We have sincere regret for the unfortunate people who were wrongly admitted to the site and who believed, albeit for a short while, that they were beautiful.'' ''It must be a bitter pill to swallow, but better to have had a slice of heaven then never to have tasted it at all.'' Brilliant :-)