The Matrix 4 and The Matrix 5 are on the way says Keanu Reeves!

Summary:Have you ever visited a page you thought was going to be about a popular topic but instead saw a sales page? If so, you may have been the victim of a trend hijacker!

Trend hijacking: When an Internet marketer, spammer, or black hat SEO monitors the hottest trends on the Web and exploits them to quickly cash-in on money-making opportunities like affiliate programs, ad impressions, ad clicks, etc.

Okay. To start, here's a link to an article that discusses The Matrix 4 and The Matrix 5 if you haven't read yet. Personally, I'm super-excited about this news (even if it is just a rumor for the time being), because I loved all three movies despite the popular opinion that the second and third installments were "the worst cinema experiences ever," according to some. So, if the headline is all you were interested in with this post, there you go. If, however, you're interested in reading about how people stand to make a LOT of money off of trend hijacking, then read on!

Making money via the Internet is an eye-opening revelation to many and that won't cease to be the case anytime soon. No, I don't mean in the traditional sense where a company has a product to sell, so they turn to the Internet to sell said product. I'm talking about making money (and potentially lots of it) without ever having to spend a dime (sans the cost of any learning materials an individual may decide to pay for). All that's required is a lot of know-how and a lot of time. As such, the notion that time == money is only applicable in trend hijacking insofar as how much money you stand to miss out on the longer you wait. Bear in mind that I didn't say "how much money you stand to lose" because you're not losing anything other than potentialgains. When it comes to trend hijacking, there is a lot to consider but I've selected 5 main factors that typically constitute a campaign.

In listing these, I'm going to remain intentionally vague about certain points. I want to give you an idea about how people go about this but don't expect to go out and run with the big dogs after this post... or even the little dogs for that matter. Anyway, in no particular order of execution:

Trend Hijacking Campaign Points

1 - Money Method: This is where you decide how you're going to make money (via affiliate offers, ads, etc.). Unless you hijack a trend that's highly relevant to a particular affiliate offer or ad, it's a bit of a crap shoot as to how much you stand to make off of your selected stream of revenue. There are other ways to make money not related to ads or affiliate offers, but I'm not going to discuss those here as they're a lot easier to monetize campaigns for (thus, more tempting/motivating).

2 - Deceit: Are you going to cloak and show people an affiliate page instead of content relevant to the trend you're hijacking? What about hitting the social bookmarking sites and gaming the upvote system to get your story to the top? Or, maybe you'll get clever with CSS and mask a Facebook "like" button to appear as something like a "next" button. Whichever the choice, deceit is *always* necessary when hijacking a trend. The only exception to the rule is if something like Acai Berry has a true medical breakthrough one day, trends, and then all you have to do is everything you can to get your Acai Berry landing page you've had set up for 2 years in front of as many people as you can while it's trending.

3 - Trend Selection and Value Establishment: Put simply, which trend(s) are you going to hijack? They're easy to find with sites like Google, Twitter, and YouTube providing real-time trend data. Additionally, how valuable do you think this campaign will be? There are multiple ways and reasons to gauge how valuable a trend might be but you'll have to get the specifics elsewhere since I'm intentionally leaving out pieces of the puzzle.

4 - Time to Market: Once you identify a trend to hijack, how long is it going to take you to get a Web page up and running that contains your "money method?" Assuming you're the best at what you do, even a lesser-skilled trend hijacker can edge you out based on how quickly they get their content/page out on the Web.

5 - Search Engines, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and Social Media: Just because you identify a trend through a site like Google, Twitter, or YouTube doesn't mean you have to use the respective site you found it through to market it! This is where the real skills come into play. The four steps above are simple and quickly defined for a new campaign to a seasoned trend hijacker. It's the avenue you choose to exploit that makes the difference. What is 100x the traffic via Google worth if you establish YouTube as a faster and more reliable way to make a sale? This is where your skills and knowledge really come into play.

The Matrix 5

If I were to have hijacked the trend of "The Matrix 4 and 5," I would have done so yesterday when it first hit the net. Likewise, I would have made the decision to put my own little spin on this trend and add some potential longevity to it by adding in "The Matrix 5" since most of the stories I've seen regarding it have referenced it in succession of "The Matrix 4;" i.e. "Matrix 4 and 5." Yes, Google is smart enough to know that pages referencing "Matrix 4 and 5" are likely referencing "Matrix 4" and "Matrix 5" and as such, those pages would theoretically have no problem ranking for the search term "Matrix 5," but I'm still under the firm belief that "don't make me think" is a great motto for not only humans but search algorithms as well.

In other words, if it were up to me to either define "Matrix 5" for a search engine or leave it up to a search engine to come to that conclusion itself from "Matrix 4 and 5," I'd most certainly choose the former. So, imagine the position I would be in if I continuously built links to this page using "Matrix 5" from now until the day the movie is actually produced. If I didn't get too nasty with my black hat methods (or get caught and penalized/banned from Google) while hijacking this trend, I'd be set up for some major longevity here!

Hijack a Trend; Pollute the Web

Where the quality of the Web is concerned, trend hijackers contribute to degradation of search results. They spam and utilize black hat SEO methods to make it such that you see *their* results on page-one instead of what you should *actually* see. These types of people are the counterparts of the ethical SEO agencies and freelancers who seek to boost rankings over time via ethical methods. All-in-all, trend hijackers contribute to the spammy garbage you may or may not run across from any given search... and guess what? They don't care! I mean, let's get real here: If I told you how to make ~$1,000 in a day by hijacking the right trend, monetizing it with the right affiliate offer and promoting it the right way, would you give a hoot about the quality of search results for people searching the Internet? Probably not. It's mentalities like that, that Google is up against when fighting spam. All the same, it's what ethical SEOs have to contend with as well.

Conclusion

Alright. So, why did I cover this topic in the manner that I did? Well, I'm personally fascinated by the Internet and how people seek to monetize it. Though unethical, greedy, and completely selfish, black hat methods are some of the most creative and compelling methods people use to make money online. Now, with that said, don't let people fool you, either. I'm sure some of the folks out there making decent money via trend hijacking are the very same individuals telling you it's ethically wrong and doing everything they can to steer you away from an industry that -- even with all its competition -- is a highly specialized and highly lucrative one. To be honest with you, I would probably be right there with those people making bank off of this stuff if not for my personal belief in ethics and the one factor I have very, very little of: Time. How's that for candor?

Additionally, I much more enjoy educating the masses and seeking to create revenue streams that are ethical, long-lasting and reliable than busting my brain coming up with methods that exploit search engines and translate people's ignorance/interests into cold, hard cash. So, the next time you end up on a teeth whitening Web page when you could have sworn you clicked a link to an article about Justin Bieber, you might then consider that you may have just been the victim of a trend hijacker! *DUN, DUN, DUNNNN!*

Topics: Browser

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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