I saw first hand the decline of an SEO company that fell because (among other still contentious issues) it focused primarily (and at times quite poorly) on search rankings.
Now that I’m a partner in Bold Interactive it’s been a great pleasure to focus on community building and engagement for clients, and satisfying to watch how this engagement affects both search rankings and sales.
What I’ve been doing since leaving MSI – blog development, forum participation, email newsletter development – isn’t really linkbait, and I’m excited to line up linkbait concepts with our current projects to drive participation, sign ups, and yeah some quality links would be nice too :)
What’s been most exciting to watch is the creativity that seems to be flowing back into the SEM space. I think Nick Wilson sums it up well in his recent linkbait post on SEL:
SEOs on the whole are a resourceful, creative and clever bunch. Rather than doing the digital equivalent of flipping burgers, you should be putting your creativity to good use and devising smart, viral content ideas that will gain your clients thousands of incoming links with good anchor text.
I agree with everything he writes, and recommend his post to anyone seeking to expand their thinking about what link-worthy content can and should be (he says make a widget).
Developing Your Links
One thing I’d like to add is that as I develop my first linkbait campaign for my clients I’m working on the “conversational” side of the process as well. And by that I mean I’m going to go to each page that links to or mentions our incredible content and leave a comment there.
And as I have fairly modest expectations for our efforts (which will be info-oriented) – not the thousands of links that Wilson describes – I further plan to look for ways for future content-related partnerships.
These linkers may have email newsletters. These linkers may be passionate forum members eager to learn more. They may have community members that would like to add content to our clients’ sites. Heck the linker herself might want to write for us ;)
Further, though Wilson has washed his hands of it, I think that link begging will aid and abet my linkbait project too – though not at the scale at which he mentions in his post. I’ll build a list of sites and blogs that I’d like links from and introduce myself in email, while making it clear that I’ve at least looked over their site myself and think their audience would genuinely care about my content.
What I read in linkbait posts these days focuses primarily on gaining the links, and not on developing those links into community relationships over time. Is that taking linkbaiting too far? I don’t think so – I call it social media marketing ;)
At my other blog gig I’ve been linking to great linkbait writing:
Link Bait: Malicoat Explains the Hooks + Link Tools and Digg PR
Link Builders: Cache Date vs. Page Rank to Determine a Site’s Value
…and these posts are going into my brain blender next, so expect a smoothie from these ingredients coming soon to an SEJ near you. Or just read them and you can skip my post ;P:
The Second Rule of Social Media Optimization
Social Trustrank and User Annotations as Anchor Text
Tigers Donâ€™t Stand on Boxes: Signaling Theory in Design