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Search engine optimisation (SEO) has only existed for a few short years, but that doesn’t mean we cannot learn lessons from the past.

I’ve always admired the spirit of Britain during World War Two, even if most of my knowledge has been gleaned from TV-sitcoms. As a marketer, I’m particularly interested in the propaganda of the time.

Are any of the WW2 messages relevant today? I thought I’d take a look at the slogans of WW2 and see if they hold any wisdom for the modern online marketer...

Dig for victory

This campaign was all about using home-grown produce instead of shipping in goods from overseas. Use spades, not ships was the battle cry.

I think this holds true for your website. Before you start using outside techniques and expensive online marketing strategies, make sure your website itself is working as hard as possible.

Optimise your pages, use keyword rich content, add a link-enticing blog – work hard on your own site and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Keep calm and carry on

This is one of my favourite posters, even though it was never used. The UK government had them made in case of successful Nazi invasion, to reassure British people, and prevent panic and chaos.

I do think there’s some relevance today. If your SEO campaign isn’t as successful as you’d like then it can be very tempting to throw the whole thing out and start again. Bring in a new agency, end the current campaign and scrap all the previous analytics – but this is a panicked reaction.

Don’t waste all that work, keep calm and carry on – use the existing work as a foundation for your improved campaign. By scrapping it all, you put yourself right back to square one and it’s a waste.

Careless talk costs lives

I meet a lot of small businesses in my line of work and many of them are quite friendly with their competitors. They’re local, they meet at conferences and other events, and they often have a chat about what they’re up to.

Never ever, ever, ever tell your competitors what kind of marketing strategy you’re embarking upon – I am amazed at how many people unthinkingly do.

At SEOptimise, one of the services we offer is competitor analysis, so you can outstrip them and grow your market share – so don’t go sharing that kind of information with them, even casual comments can reveal the bigger picture.

Lend a hand on the land

This slogan was designed to encourage women to sign up to the Women’s Land Army and fill in while the able-bodied men were off at war.

For the modern day marketing effort, I think this shows that everyone has a part to play in your company’s promotional success. Using Twitter, updating a blog, socialising in relevant forums – all these things can take a lot of time.

However, if everyone in the company gets involved and does a little, it can all add up to a really successful campaign.

Kevin Gibbons

Published 2 February, 2010 by Kevin Gibbons

Kevin Gibbons is UK Managing Director at digital marketing agency BlueGlass. He is also known as an SEO speaker and can be found on Twitter and Google+.

102 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Stuart Wilson

Stuart Wilson, Sales Director at Advanced Labelling Ltd

One more: SPAM


Learn to accept it, and even though it leaves a horrible taste in your mouth it won't be going away anytime soon! ;)

over 6 years ago


Connect Free

Lol... definitely interesting how you were able to relate the WW2 to SEO. I love the part about keeping calm and carry on. Even if you get penalised, you might have lost that battle, but the war is still out there, learn from it and move on!

Well said!

over 6 years ago


What Is YourNetBiz

Brillian idea for the post; very interesting comparisons. My Twitter followers will definitely benefit from it.


Ana/<a href="http://www.yournetbizattractionmarketingcafe.com/yournetbiz">YourNetBiz Mentor</a>

over 6 years ago



Great post, and you won my interest over with the posters.... a simple call to action but do all clients see it as war or just something they should give a go...?

over 6 years ago


Kris Harris

Thought I'd give this post a read after seeing the title. Coming from a web design company that is branching out to SEO the ideas you talk about here will greatly help us when it comes building our websites and SEO services.

over 6 years ago



The "Careless talk costs lives" really hit home.   While I talk all the time to friends in my industry, I regularly "bounce" ideas off of them. 


over 6 years ago



That's really a great post. I also believe in Careless talk costs lives. And also agree with others. :)

almost 6 years ago

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