If You Still Think That Success Online Is About Building “The Best Darn Site,” read this

Am I the only one who thinks that startups spend too much time geeking out about code and development, but not enough time getting passionate about marketing?

If you want to get passionate about the power of clever marketing, download the program I recorded with Matthew Inman. He’s a smart developer and designer who built the dating site Mingle2 in only 66.5 hours. That’s a stunning accomplishment, but I think it would be meaningless if he didn’t market it.

Matthew Inman

Matthew Inman


Matthew Inman is a developer and designer who built a full-featured dating website called Mingle2 in 66.5 hours.

A few lessons from this program

Want to see one way Matthew marketed his site? Read this edited excerpt.

Andrew: How did quizzes help you build Mingle2?

Matthew: I created a quiz called “How Geek Are You?” If you answered a couple of questions, it would tell you, on a 100% scale, how geeky you were. It asked questions like, “Do you read sci-fi ” or “Do you play video games?” or “Do you code?”

The whole trick of it was, when you were done with the quiz, it would tell you, “You are 60% geek,” or “You are 10% geek.” And it would give you a badge. And a badge is just an image, basically. And I would give you a code so you could embed that badge on our blog.

When people embed that on their blogs, it also said, “created by Mingle2 – Free Online Dating” underneath it. So I was able to build tens of thousands of links every month with the exact anchor text I wanted to my home page.

What kind of quizzes do well?

The best quiz I ever created was called “How many 5-year-olds could you take in a fight?”

Any quiz that appeals to a user’s sense of ability–like: what can they do, how smart are they, how fast are they, or how strong are they–those are the quizzes that do the best.

“What X are you?” quizzes–like what X-Men are you, or what Lost character are you–those never go anywhere. I wouldn’t bother with them. They’re just kind of over-done. Ability quizzes are where it’s at.

(See more of Matthew’s work here.)

How would that help you with Google?

We picked a keyword that we knew people were searching for, that would result in signups. And we would point all our quiz-bate at that, using the badges. And then we were able to rank #1 in Google usually.

I actually ranked #1 for the keyword “dating,” outranking the Wikipedia entry.

[Thanks Chris Winfield for introducing me to Matthew!]


21 thoughts on “If You Still Think That Success Online Is About Building “The Best Darn Site,” read this – with Matthew Inman

  1. Downloading this one right now :) The other post (that mobile phone game guy) was hard for me to find points that I could apply to my business/life other than staying persistent and surrounding myself with people who are better at what they do than I am (like with his business partner and wife [to be?]). Anyways, this one is downloading, gotta do some errands then I'll come back and listen; sounds like a really good one that I can apply :)

  2. AndrewWarner says:

    Thanks Michael. I'll work to get you even more useful, actionable info.

  3. john Lukar says:

    This was a great interview.
    Thank you Josh for sharing. I realize some of this might be for marketing and exposing the company.
    … but the interview was nevertheless from heart and genuine and in spirit of making other peoples lives better or helping others succeed.

    Thanks Andrew for facilitating that in the same spirit.

    Its the first time I am coming across this blog and information resource. I'll be coming back.


  4. TaeFitz says:

    This was a great interview.

    Andrew Warner asks questions to really help non-developers understand linkbait and specifics of hiring a developer and writer. Examples of quizzes for specific websites was brilliant.

    Matthew Inman is very open in explaining and good natured about digging questions and focusing of the interview. Very cool. Love experts that are willing to share openly at such a detailed level.

    Andrew- I haven't been a regular to the site very long but it seems you are moving toward helping bootstrappers vs those looking for funding. I think it is great. How you are focusing the content has been extremely useful and is helping me as a 1 person bootstrapper who does not code.


  5. AndrewWarner says:


    I used to focus on venture capitalists because they were the biggest draws
    at my events.

    But I realized that just because they're a good draw for my business,
    doesn't mean they're the best people for startups to focus on. So I decided
    to focus on the more practical, nuts and bolts of business.

    I'd rather help startups get their money from profits than from investors.

  6. PaulMagee says:

    Interesting interview. Matthew sounds like a smart guy and I don't want to take anything away from the skill he has developed in this particular branch of marketing but there were a couple of points in the interview where I heard myself screaming NO don't do it!

    Particularly near the end, when you were discussing ideas that could be applied to mixergy. My model is pretty similar to yours and in both cases I think without a doubt that delivering Value is more important than getting traffic. Yes you need both, but you can only put one first and it should be delivering Value to the type of readers you really want.

    To be fair Matthew himself did say at least once that high traffic doesn't always mean high conversions. I know from experience across a number of different companies that huge viral traffic can have almost zero impact on sales if it's not attracting the right people.

    And I think that's where the danger lies, when you (you, me or anyone) starts focusing on how to gain traffic *instead* of how to Deliver Value. If you were focused on writing sensational blog posts, you'd attract a whole different type of people.

    For me, every time we do an interview, without fail, the person we are interviewing says or does something that we could turn into a negative sensational article if we chose too. (we don't) And those articles would get more readers in the short term, but they wouldn't get the kind of smart, ambitious readers we want, people who want to learn and then DO shit, not just have their gossip nodes buzzed. I may be wrong, but I think that's the mixergy goal as well?

    Don't get me wrong, I think a bit of sensationalism is great, but you should apply the salt scale, a little flavors your food, too much will make you sick.

    I think if you want to attract a more intelligent crowd, you need a slightly more intelligent bait. I absolutely agree that it's a good idea to help the people who Do Value your site to link to you and share what they learn, but I didn't hear a solution that would be right for me personally in the interview.

    I think I'll conduct a little survey of sites that do have effective linking strategies and add them to here later.

    here's one..
    the gaping void widget links back to Hugh's site in the millions. People kind of use it partly to show they have a sense of humor, but mainly I think to show they agree, they belong to the internet marketing web 2.0 “we get it” tribe. Which I guess is what badges really are – a sign of belonging.

    Maybe what mixergy would benefit from is a badge that let's people show they belong to the “un-apologetically ambitious” tribe? Because that's what's going to attract more of those people??

  7. PaulMagee says:

    oops, that looks like a bit of an essay, let me know if these long comments aren't appropriate. (this is why I don't use twitter much :)

  8. I would love to get 1 thing from the interviews that I can do right now. An action/website I can visit that will improve what I'm doing -today-.

  9. Deep Patel says:

    badges are a very effective strategy it seems like…this is the second time someone interviewed mentioned using badges to gain links. I can appreciate how Matthew creates funny for his dating website. But how about creating link bait for a more complex decision making process, I wonder how I can do that.

    sign ups are easy compared to converting visitors to product sales. thanks Matthew for sharing how you were successful with quizzes I had no idea they are that effective in driving traffic. Maybe I can muster up a quiz for the niche we serve. enjoyed the interview!

  10. AndrewWarner says:

    I'm working on a way to bring anyone on Mixergy into the interview. So they
    can ask questions and get the interviewee to help them with their sites.
    Should have that up in about a week.

  11. SteveWa says:

    This was really disturbing to me, because I hate those online quizes, I think it's waste of time, and I don't have time to waste, so I don't do them. Likewise I judge people who do them as idiots and don't want to interface with them. But the quizes are all over the place. So now I realize,

    1) people who would be users/customers at my website will not be like me
    (either not super smart [try watching usability testing someday, to see how dumb some users really are],
    not productivity oriented – i.e. they like to waste their time playing games or goofing off,

    2) I have to learn to accept and embrace those types of people and not get angry at them. realize to reach my goal I have to cater to people like that by giving them what they want, and not what I think they should have.

    3) I have to find a way to match my goals and the purpose of my site/business with what they want, and make the process something they will enjoy.

    #2 is what concerns me the most. I wonder if I have a bad attitude against people, from my years of tech support dealing with idiots. More so, I wonder how I can turn it around, so I can accept that not everyone will want what I want and have the same opinion that I do. Maybe this is socialization stuff you are suppossed to learn in 5th grade, but I'm seeing if from an emotional viewpoint. I recall reading something like this about Friendster. Friendster got all preachy to it's users when they started to use the site for something other than what Friendster creators thought it should be used for. Any they are basically gone, while MySpace evolved and supported the new directions that it's users were taking it. Go with the flow I guess. So I guess focus on your goal, hopefully it;s making lots of money, and do what your customers want you to do, so they support you and you make money, instead of thinking “these people don't see the same vision as I do”. Or maybe I'm wrong. Please give me feedback.

  12. AndrewWarner says:

    Steve, I used to be like that. I thought most people were pains in the butt.

    It wasn't until read How to Win Friends and Influence People that I turned
    that attitude around.

  13. Zach says:

    This is one of the best site I've found in a long…LONG time.
    I loved this interview not only is it eye opening and packed with interesting ideas.
    It also sounds genuine and real. I think I will be downloading every one of your interviews one by one.

  14. AndrewWarner says:

    Feedback like this fires me up Zach.


  15. Ed says:

    Great tips. I actually stumbled on Mathew Inman through an old blog post of his and read everything on his articles on link baiting. But this interview delivered many more things that weren't covered in his blogs.

  16. ShortCinema says:

    This is an AWESOME interview. I just recently discovered mixergy (using the key words building an audience) and have been trying to absorb as much as I can. This is the best interview I've heard so far. It has stuff that I can use right away.

  17. AndrewWarner says:

    Glad you're here. Let me know of I'm missing an interview that you'd
    like to see.

    Andrew Warner
    (sent from my mobile)

  18. Insightful read. I have stumbled and twittered this for my friends. Others no doubt will like it like I did.

  19. Jing Liu says:

    This is one of the most useful interviews! Thanks Matthew for sharing. Open my perspective to SEO linking. Going to try to implement some of the ideas. And always, thanks Andrew for digging up this info for us.

  20. Sharky says:

    This is one of the most useful interviews! Thanks Matthew for sharing. Open my perspective to SEO linking. Going to try to implement some of the ideas. And always, thanks Andrew for digging up this info for us.

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