It’s not easy to write a TV series. And it’s even harder to write the final season of a wildly popular franchise with legions of obsessed fans. And Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are learning that the hard way.
After a disappointing showing in the penultimate Game of Thrones episode on Sunday, Redditors on the r/FreeFolk subreddit decided to take matters into their own hands. Instead of just complaining about the show on Reddit, they instead duped Google’s algorithms into showing a picture of Weiss and Benioff in search results for the term “bad writers,” according to Business Insider, which saw the results pop up.
Since then, the search results have changed and the image no longer shows up. But the damage was done. And other Redditors, emboldened by the success, are now trying to get Weiss and Benioff to show up on a variety of other search results, including “Dumb and Dumber.” So far, they haven’t succeeded.
The Redditors’ anger comes after longtime Game of Thrones fans panned the final season of the show for a variety of apparent issues. Some have said that the plot seems to be moving at too quick a pace and others feel that characters aren’t adequately developed. Still others are disappointed by who has lived and died–and shown a change in character–in the show.
It’s hard to argue with their venom.
I’ve been watching Game of Thrones since its first episode and have largely enjoyed the show over the last several seasons. But this season feels rushed and decisions characters make seem to make little sense. I also can’t help but roll my eyes at least once in each episode. And who can forget the dark Battle of Winterfell?
Of course, there are some folks who still like what the show has offered this year. And for them, the complaints make little sense. But it appears that at least on the Internet, they’re being drowned out by the complaints.
Gaming Google to take on Weiss and Benioff is not new. Indeed, people who want to protest topics, share displeasure, or otherwise take issue with something have been using Google, Wikipedia, and other services for years to make their opinions known. And in some cases, they’ve done that to major effect. President Donald Trump landed in search results for the term “idiot” last year after a similar method was used by folks to get him to land there.
For business owners and entrepreneurs, the latest move by Game of Thrones fans is also a learning lesson.
The fact is, consumers have significant power in affecting your standing on the Internet. And if enough of them take issue with something you do, they can often work together–knowingly or not–and negatively affect your online presence.
Like it or not, search engine optimization, or SEO, is a critical component in any company’s marketing mix. And in a world where disgruntled consumers or employees can quickly use Google in a fight against you, staying on top of your search presence and safeguarding against complaints is critical.
Just ask Weiss and Benioff.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.