On January 20, 2014, he put up a post on guest blogging, complete with videos. In it he lays out what he sees as the problems with guest blogging, but also what can be acceptable.
Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably also seen the blogosphere, Facebook, Google+ all manner of other SEO hangouts just explode with back-and-forth on this subject.
But you haven’t been living under a rock, have you? No, you’ve just been living like the Captain and his fifty-six men in the film Das Boot.
Just like them, you’re aware of the trends going on out in the wider world above you, but you just might be a little too cut-off from reality to know the whole story.
So what do you need to know? We’ll cover the following points in this 3,000 word chapter:
- Das Boot the Film: Let’s take a look at the box office performance, director Wolfgang Petersen, filming techniques, the actual Type VIIC U-boats, and the recognition the film received.
- Das Boot and Blogging Authority: When it comes to guest posts, you’re trying to get more traffic to your site. Does this give you more authority, or does it actually take it away? Let’s take a look at how the film establishes authority, questions it, and transcends it.
- Das Boot and Your Site’s Users: You want your site to accommodate as many people as it can, and that’s why you’re reaching out for more users with your guest posts. Is this helpful, or is it just alienating your current users? Let’s take a look at how the film treats its crew.
So can Das Boot teach you about SEO? Let’s dive down deep and find out.
Das Boot at the Box Office
The beauty of opening so early in the season is that you have all year to get going, and that’s exactly what Das Boot did.
By the time the year was up, the film was ranked #65 for the year, with a gross of nearly $11 million, or what would be around $28 million in 2014 dollars.
In Germany the film was a runaway success, and it still enjoys widespread acclaim and attention. In 2007 the Has der Geschichte (Hose of German History) put on an exhibition in Bonn. Das Boot was highlighted, as well as the real U-96 that the film was based on. More than 100,000 visited over four months.
All in all, it made an additional $70 million in the worldwide box office, bringing the total to just over $80 million for the year, or around $220 million today.
Wolfgang Petersen Takes Charge of Das Boot
Next up Petersen directed Die Konsequenz (The Consequence), which, you guessed it, was another film based on an autobiographical novel, and which starred Jürgen Prochnow. The film profiled author Alexander Ziegler’s homosexuality, and was seemingly so far out there that Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting) turned off its own transmitters rather than airing the film.
That was the kind of filmmaker Bavaria was looking for in 1979, and they allowed Petersen to make Das Boot on his terms. And what terms they were!
Filming Das Boot
And the spaces were confined, just as they would be in a real German U-boat. The reasons Rolf Zehetbauer’s production was so real was because Petersen commissioned the original manufacturer of U-96 to make two full-size mock-ups of the Type VIIC class sub. These were used for interior work, and three additional models were made for special effects work and surface shots.
In other words, these suckers could move, and they did so to devastating effect. Still, they couldn’t get too far out into the Atlantic without coming back to port for more fuel. This is a problem we see in the film, and something most crewmen look forward to – coming home.
Petersen was proud of the models, saying “every screw” was just as it was in the original boat. To get that level of realism the film had to have a large budget, and it was originally set at DM 25 million, or around $12 million in the US, which made it the most expensive German film ever produced at that time.
Remember, it went on to make more than $80 million that year.
Das Boot Starts Slow, But Gets Moving
It won none of them, but it did win the hearts and minds of theatergoers everywhere, and the American TV mini-series version did win an Emmy in 1985. After all, no other foreign film had been nominated so much.
German critics hated it, however. Michael Schwarze, writing for the Frankfurter Allgemeine, said it was a pity Petersen had “made such a bad film.”
Establishing Your Blogging Authority
In Das Boot we know right away that Kapitänleutnant, the Captain (he has no name in the film), is clearly the man in charge. After all, he’s driving the car down the road at the beginning of the film, and he’s also one of the only men not drunk. In fact, we see the Captain drunk at all in the film.
Well, that’s not quite true. He’s drunk on many things over the course of this film, but they’re sure not alcohol.
You’ll notice how the Captain keeps his cool during the film’s first scene, in the nightclub. Here his followers are letting loose, making fools of themselves, and generally tarnishing his own reputation. I mean, they piss on his car as he’s driving there!
But he lets them, for he knows what they’re about to go through for him. And his men trust him for it. Can your site say the same?
Questioning the Blogging Authority of Others
You can tell the small dinner party on the Weser really gets on the Captain’s nerves. There’s good food there, but they give him the worst orders and also rescind his earlier orders allowing to men to go ashore.
The captain gets angry when those in high positions are stupid and don’t see what’s plain for all – that he’s the captain and no one knows what to do better than him. And it’s the truth.
Don’t let your site follow silly lines of reasoning from those that know nothing of what they’re talking about.
Showing Your Followers Your Authority is True
See, guest posts say to Google that you need help driving traffic to your site, which by its very nature undermines your authority, showing it’s not absolute. The Captain hated going to Vigo, but he needed to resupply and get orders.
Why the Captain allows others to step forward for him in this scene is beyond me, but it could be a sign of the incredible strain he’s under. Blogging can be tough, and we’ll often try to take shortcuts, usually when they seem the most convenient to us.
If you continually allow others to step forward for you, showcasing your content with the simple goal of getting through something fast and easy, eventually you’re going to have problems. The Captain realized this, especially when his orders allowing two men to go overland were rescinded. The death mission they next send him on through the Strait of Gibraltar sure didn’t make anything better.
The Captain had a problem here, and that’s almost like the WWII version of a Google penalty. Let that be a shot across the bow to you, and nothing more – be careful who you have representing you, and be extra careful of taking orders from those that exhibit ignorance instead of intelligence.
The last thing you want is for Google to have you in their sights and raining down depth charges on your site.
Using Anger to Cement Your Authority
We see him get angry early when silly propaganda continues to come through. Where is it coming from? Mainly from the radio.
At one point the Chief Engineer gets so upset with it that he shouts for it to be turned off. No one objects.
Be careful with what kind of podcasts, videos, or other audio forms of SEO you’re putting out there, especially on other people’s sites. Really, why aren’t you putting it on your own site?
And when you do put up a blog post – they are becoming exceedingly rare on the big sites – will it be the best content you can deliver, or will it be second-best?
After all, if you want to get all those good links from big sites with your guest post, you’d better put your best foot forward on those sites.
It’s clear the Captain is not going to buy that nonsense, and he doesn’t want his followers believing it either. This man knows the truth, and your site needs to cut through the BS just like him.
So then what happens to your site when you put your best foot forward on another? What about your users? How many feet can you put forward?
Das Boot’s Crew and the Heart of Your Site
Perhaps they come from all over. There are many men on Das Boot, and we know that they don’t know much about the others. Even though they’re all good German men, they hail from different parts of the country.
We see this when Leutnant Werner is looking at the Chief Engineer’s photos. It’s clear from his expression that that could be his home, wherever it is. Your users come from all over the place and don’t know much if anything about the others. But they work together to get the job done. And that job gets done on your site.
Can You Accommodate More Users?
We see quite clearly how important other visitors and users are to Das Boot in the scene where the Allied soldiers from the British tanker ship are trying to swim to the U-boat.
Those link backs you’re getting from those guest blogs are much the same. They might seem good now, but deep down you know that taking them on will only hurt you long-term.
Oversights From Your Trusted Authorities
When the incompetence of those you’re working against actually hurts those working for them, you should lash out, point it out, and draw attention to it. This will only help you in the eyes of your own followers.
And when you want to get to the top of Google, having your users’ best interests at heart is the absolute best thing you can do.
So is all guest posting bad? No, not if you’re going for exposure, branding, increased reach, or to make existing communities stronger. And multi-author blogs also aren’t an issue.
The only sites that have anything to worry about are those like the German high command in the film Das Boot – ignorant, egotistical, and always wanting the easy way out.
But that’s not you, is it Captain?
Ebert, Roger. Roger Ebert’s Four-Star Reviews 1967-2007. Andrews McMeel Publishing: Kansas City, 2007. p 184-5.
Haase, Christine. When Heimat Meets Hollywood: German Filmmakers and America, 1985-2005. Camden House: New York, 2007. p 71-9.
Helgason, Guðmundur. "Type VIIC". U-Boat War in World War II. Uboat.net. Retrieved 2 April 2014. http://www.uboat.net/types/viic.htm
Turan, Kenneth. Never Coming to a Theater Near You: A Celebration of a Certain Kind of Movie. Perseus Books Group: Cambridge, 2004. p 308-11.