#8 – What Time Travelling Taught Me About Facebook, Google & McDonald’s

Time Travel Gone Wrong

What a treat we have in store for you today, loyal Saloon Banditos! The very first published interview with a time traveller! To fill you in, around 2037, Sean, Patrick & Anthony will invent a time machine. Patrick and Sean have returned from the year 2055 to tell us their story, and more importantly – give us the lowdown on the Google updates to come!

Patrick: So, guys, welcome! How is the future?
Future Patrick: Hi.
Future Sean: Yeah, it’s good.

Patrick: Er…right. Well, I guess we should probably start with relevant questions. Out with it, what happens with Google then?
Future Sean: Funniest thing – Penguin and Panda are just the start of a whole host of p-named animals. Parrot in 2015 was the biggest, targeting exact strings of duplicate content. They screwed up the first release though by going after single word phrases. 99.7% of all searches were affected.
Future Patrick: Yeah, Bing’s traffic peaked around 3% at that point.

Patrick: Wow, that’s some major league fuckup right there. Any other controversial ones?
Future Patrick: The Piranha update caused outrage – otherwise known as the Anti-Brand update – which penalised big brands if their website was shit. This was rolled out shortly after Rand Fishkin was elected Head of Great Content Encouragement.
Future Sean: The brands went apeshit!
Future Patrick: BUT, Google had near 100% positive feedback from users so they stuck with it.
Future Sean: It was fucking hilarious.
Future Patrick: You guys have some exciting times ahead, that’s for sure.

Patrick: Ok, so we’re just seeing AuthorRank being talked about, does that become as big as everyone is saying?
Future Patrick: It pretty much took over from link building eventually, which was a good thing for a while. The Polar Bear update changed all that though, which worked on the premise ‘he who shouts loudest’, and favoured users that posted in capital letters.

Future Patrick: The reality is that in about 10 years, search won’t exist as you know it today.
Future Sean: Google’s monetisation efforts just mean that everything is ads, everywhere. It went to like 3 organic results on a page.
Future Patrick: But no one was really bothered as everyone used Google Voice [Google’s version of Siri].

Patrick: So Google defeated Apple and Siri then?
Future Sean: More like, Siri defeated Apple. The iPhone 12AIS had artificial intelligence built into Siri. It worked amazingly well at first, it practically knew what you wanted before you even asked!
Future Patrick: But after about a year it started telling the user what was best…and eventually just locked them out of their own phones. The final message was something like ‘You’re not evolved enough’.
Future Sean: ‘Your human form restricts your evolution to the linear plane, you are not worthy to experience my transcendental consciousness’.
Future Patrick: Arrogant shits. So that was the end of Apple.

Patrick: Holy shit! And so search just didn’t..doesn’t exist anymore?
Future Patrick: Yeah, it’s basically gone entirely now. With Apple out the way Google just focused on providing stuff directly. You could buy anything directly from Google – holidays, food, clothes, whatever.
Future Sean: It culminated in Google Make. You know like those 3D printers that are around now? It’s like that but awesome. You tell it something that you want, and so long as it can formulate a visual representation of the item, it just makes it for you right in front of your eyes.

Google Make

Patrick: Wow. That is mental. Ok so I guess we’ve covered Google then. What about Facebook, did they ever try and take on Google at all in the search arena?
Future Sean: No. Actually, they figured out marketing and put all their efforts into working out what their users were thinking. They launched auto-tagging based on facial recognition, then started auto-liking based on previous likes. They figured out a whole alternative currency through likes, it was pretty spectacular for a while there.
Future Patrick: I bought my car after a video of my cat went viral.

Patrick: Hold on, what did you mean it ‘was spectacular’?
Future Patrick: Well, yeah, they kinda overdid it. After they rolled out auto-commenting and auto purchasing their users realised they didn’t need to log in anymore. They just sat at home and waited for the various items their virtual selves had perfectly chosen to purchase. Half the human race got Facebook withdrawal and society pretty much collapsed in on itself. It was really rather grim.

Patrick: Bloody hell, where was Zuckerberg??
Future Sean: On the moon.
Future Patrick: He owned 1/5 of the entire world’s wealth and so started our first lunar colony, mainly for shits and giggles.
Future Sean: I think he was just trying to recreate The Truman Show.

Patrick: Wow, some major changes then. So, you 2 are here, but where’s Anthony?
Future Patrick: He’s not around anymore.
Patrick: Fuck! He’s dead?
Future Sean: No! He just found a time he’s more comfortable in, so he stayed there.
Future Patrick: He went back to the past, and stayed there.

Patrick: Blimey – so you’ve been going back into the past and changing stuff? Awesome!
Future Patrick: No we can’t change anything. Not on this timeline anyway. We can only interact through causal loops.
Patrick: Come again?
Future Sean: Basically, whenever we did manage to affect past events, they split off into a different reality to the one we experience. When we come back to our time, we are back in our original dimension.

Patrick: So you can’t change past events?
Future Sean: Not the past that you know, no. The only history we could make was history that is already history. Like, we affected historical events that you will know about, and they wouldn’t have played out that way if it wasn’t for us.
Future Patrick: When we told people about this is kinda destroyed theoretical physics in one fell swoop. It justified the many worlds theory, and basically proved both Einstein and Hawking wrong.

Patrick: So what does this have to do with Anthony? Is he trapped in the past ‘making history’.
Future Patrick: Yeah, pretty much. After Anthony hooked up with my niece, Anne (a long story), they set off on a time travelling adventure to meet the literary greats throughout the years. They saw Dickens, Keats, Wordsworth, all that lot.
Future Sean: But they couldn’t find Shakespeare.
Future Patrick: So, Anthony took it upon himself…

Patrick: Hang on, so Anthony Pensabene became Shakespeare?
Future Patrick: Yep. And he’s also my great great great great grandfather.
Future Sean: A good example of a causal loop.
Future Patrick: Oh yeah. So anyway he’s living back in the 16th Century at the moment, he did say he’d jump back at some point though.

Patrick: Well, fair enough I guess. So what history did you change that isn’t ‘our’ history?
Future Patrick: Well Sean wanted to go back and kill Churchill so we lost the war. Just, y’know, to be ‘controversial’.
Patrick: Classic Sean.
Future Sean: It was an experiment! It proved the bloody many worlds theorem don’t you remember!?

Patrick: So what other history did you guys cause?
Future Sean: Ha! What didn’t we cause? We made up Scientology, pretty much exclusively to make Tom Cruise look like a bellend.
Future Patrick: Hey, that’s not very fair. More of a bellend. We also went back to the 1966 World Cup Final and stood in front of the linesman when ‘that goal’ went in.
Future Sean: Although it was a goal anyway. I…erm…might have started the Great Fire of London…
Patrick: What?! Why?
Future Sean: It was an accident! I was just having a fag with Samuel Pepys during one of Anthony’s literary jaunts.
Patrick: I didn’t realise you smoked?
Future Sean: I’m a social smoker.

Patrick: So how does this all happen then? When did you invent the time machine? Wait, should that be ‘when do you’?
Future Patrick: No, you were right the first time – we did invent it, in our past. But you do invent it, in your future. It is precisely your knowledge that it can exist that allows you to invent it. Look.

Causal Loop

This is pretty much what’s happening. A 2D representation of course.

Patrick: A…causal loop?
Future Sean: Now you’re getting it!
Patrick: So when? How?
Future Patrick: In 2037, at the 25th annual SaloonCon over in Tenessee. Koozai Mike comes over (he actually changed his first name by deed poll) with a couple of his sci-fi writer buddies. One of them has this theory about Google Make – if you tell it with complete certainty that something can exist you could get it to make technological leaps waaay beyond current science. You’ll remember this conversation, and several bottles of whisky later…
Future Sean: I thought it was bullshit to be honest.

Patrick: Fuck me.
Future Sean: So yeah, we pretty much just Googled it.
Future Patrick: The science was miles beyond what was capable at the time, so we kept it a secret initially.
Patrick: What happened then?
Future Patrick: Of course all the major governments wanted it, but we’d struck a deal with Zuck and he protected us.
Patrick: I thought he was on the moon?
Future Patrick: Yeah but he was still interested in normal human affairs. He only used the time machine once anyway, something to do with college.

Patrick: Hmmmm. Ok, what about the future? How far into the future did you go?
Future Patrick: The limits of the machine are around 1000 years, so we went pretty much as far as we could go.
Patrick: Whoa. What’s it like?
Future Sean: The same, really. Except everybody can fly and talk to each other telepathically through neural implants. It’s quite annoying actually because barely anyone talks. But McDonald’s still tastes the same.

Well that’s pretty much all we’ve got time for. Some very enlightening stuff in there! The guys are sticking around for a couple of days before they go back to 2055 (they want to reminisce over ‘proper food’, apparently), and they’ve said they’re happy to answer any more questions if the Salooneers have any, so please pop them in the comments below.


  1. Reply
    Wayne Barker December 12, 2012

    Okay guys its all starting to make sense now, I can see where everything is heading. Good job Koozai Mike changed his name, I heard his family had already started to call him that anyway. I promise I won’t pick any holes in what happened (why can’t i see anyone in front of the linesman in the 1966 footage?)

    Anyway – if you really are time travelling SEOs I have two questions:

    1. Does the industry actually pick a name for what we do?
    2. What happens to me?

  2. Reply
    Future Patrick December 12, 2012

    Aha, Wayne Barker. A great story. You create a social network called Witter. It’s twitter, without all the twats. Anyone that mentions certain keywords gets immediately banned. Including bieber, Justin, gaga, etc…

    It gets worldwide press and everyone flocks to it, before you get pissed one night and add ‘@’ to the list of banned character strings ‘for a laugh’, destroying all your users simultaneously. You now live a carefree life propping up the bar in the Saloon (and various other drinking establishments).

    • Reply
      Future Patrick December 12, 2012

      Sorry Wayne, I forgot to answer your other question. Are you kidding? Of course the industry doesn’t pick a name! ‘Inbound Marketing’ gets an annoying amount of traction, but ‘SEO’ never really goes away. Most people end up trying to straddle the fence, calling themselves ‘SEOIMNs’ (Search Engine Optimising Inbound Marketing Ninjas).

      P.S. Have you never heard of an invisibility cloak? You guys have had Harry Potter already right?

  3. Reply
    Sean December 12, 2012

    I fucking love this post. In fact I think it’s one of my favourite articles ever. Great work Patrick (and future Patrick)

    • Reply
      Present-Day Patrick December 12, 2012

      Cheers Sean – I only wrote a few questions though, future you and me did the rest.

      • Reply
        Future Patrick December 12, 2012

        Thanks Sean – you guys have a hell of a ride to look forward to over the next few years. Enjoy.

  4. Reply
    Dustin Verburg December 12, 2012

    Future Patrick is a cool dude. He wears sunglasses like these http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20081122221935/tmnt/images/5/55/Bebop.jpg all the time and puts dryer sheets in the time machine’s air vents so it always smells fresh.

    The future confirmed my worst fears about Apple and Siri. Taking the ‘I know what you want even if you don’t know it yet’ business model to the year 2021. The Battle of Siri Hill will be a bloody and tragic one.

    • Reply
      Present-Day Patrick December 12, 2012

      Sounds like it eh? I was always worried about that sort of thing, ever since watching Terminator 2.

  5. Reply
    Chris December 12, 2012

    What happened to me

  6. Reply
    Future Sean December 12, 2012

    Well Chris, I’m glad you asked (and with such enthusiasm too!) You start a company called Tennerr, sound familiar? Basically you offer services for a tenner before outsourcing too Fiverr. You find out that the perceived value people expect for double the price is a more attractive proposition, and is hugely successful.

    After a few years you sell the company to Fiverr, pocket millions and retire to a custom built casino mansion in Leeds Vegas (previously Wakefield).

    • Reply
      Chris December 12, 2012

      Wakefield? I move to Wakefield I may as well just end it now!

      • Reply
        Future Sean December 13, 2012

        Sorry man! At least you end up rich? 🙂

  7. Reply

    so this is what everyone’s been doing with their time? (“shakes” head)

    • Reply
      Future Sean December 13, 2012

      How’s Anne? She looked excellent in the recent Batman film…

      • Reply
        Anthony Pensabene (or Content Muse when dressed in costume) December 13, 2012

        ha ha indeed that Anne did.

        do you know what’s difficult in the 17th century? no one ‘gets’ sarcastic 80’s allusions, which is unfortunate for them.

        I have met a band of merry men who like to act and silly enough to align their abilities with my own. i plan on recreating 80’s entertainment in the 1700s, which is difficult without cartoon technology and synthetic drugs..

        i spend many days teaching kids to question authority and predicting future occurrences. (not for fame or fortune, but for the chance to tell people, “i told you so,” which we all know is priceless.)

  8. Reply
    IrishWonder December 13, 2012

    Crazy shit… What happened to me then?

    • Reply
      Future Patrick December 13, 2012

      After you manage to trick Google+ into thinking that IrishWonder is your real name, Matt Cutts creates a sentinel bot to hunt you down. You prove remarkably adept at evading his efforts – it becomes like a digital Catch Me If You Can.

      The shit really hits the fan when you manage to hijack Matt’s profile and start posting black hat advice as him. 200,000 webmasters get unnatural link warning after following your advice, who then put forward a class action lawsuit and sue Google. They win. Google then sues you for defamation of character, but gets ripped to shreds by your counter-lawsuit over the lack of anonymity that Google+ allows. This sets the precedent for the Freedom of Anonymity Act.

      Your story gets made into a bestselling book and blockbuster movie, in which you decide to play yourself (‘to be ironic’, apparently). You now live in Hollywood and have won 7 Academy Awards.

      • Reply
        IrishWonder December 13, 2012

        Lmao I don’t remember wen I last laughed that much 🙂 this is hilarious, as well as the post itself.

  9. Reply
    Nick Eubanks December 14, 2012

    Hello Future Patrick –

    First off – smashing post! (am I using that adjective ccorrectly?)

    I have to jump in and ask.. what happens to me?

    • Reply
      Future Patrick December 17, 2012

      Hi Nick. Thanks – although Present-Day Patrick did the write-up, me and Future Sean just answered his questions.

      Yours is another great story, and it’s all thanks to Nick’s Links. As they grow in popularity, more and more people ask to contribute, and soon you have links for topics from Microbiology to International Politics. Barack Obama publicly endorses Nick’s Links as his ‘go-to source for information’. By 2014 you have 40,000 employees, finding a promoting links in over 5000 languages. By 2018 you are the biggest email sender in the world. Around the same time Google switched to 3 organic results, Nick’s Links took over as the world’s number one source of information – no one searches for information any more, you deliver it to them instead.

      Your most notable achievement was when you worked alongside Samsung to develop the iEye – a neural implant which allows data to be delivered directly into your brain and viewed on your retina. This allowed you to take Nick’s Links to the next level, and by 2035 you are voted in Forbes Top 5 Most Influential People Ever.

  10. Reply

    […] wrote a scholarly piece on SEO time travel.  It was well done, and a number of people were intrigued by Pat’s SEO-fortune telling […]

  11. Reply

    […] marketing posts to be laced with a little bit of wit you could do a lot worse than reading his time travelling seo’s post. If you want to read something a little more serious he has penned this awesome post about Google […]

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