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SMX Panel Recap: Linkbait – Chumming for Traffic on Social Media Sites

The second panel of the day was “Linkbait – Chumming for Traffic on Social Media Sites” and it was of course focused on creating and maintaining successful link bait. The panel here was made up Rebecca Kelley, Brent Csutoras and Cameron Olthuis.

Rebecca Kelley from SEOmoz opened up with her examples of the worst college mascots on Drivl. In very little time, it has helped to create rankings for highly competitive terms like “college mascots”. She then continued on with providing tips on how you can create successful link bait…

  • People like to link to things (blogs, social networks, etc.)
  • The internet is evolving
  • Create content, and give it to the RIGHT audience
  • Do Your Homework

    Next, Rebecca highlighted the many reasons it was important to do your homework when creating link bait…

    1.) Research your sector’s link worthiness on things like Digg, Engadget, StubleUpon, BoingBoiing, Slashdot, Reddit, Lifehacker, TechCrunch, Fark, etc.

    2.) Look at Current Trends on places like eBay Pulse, Technorati’s Popular, Ask.com’s IQ (Interesting Queries), Lycos Top 50, AOL Search Hot Searches, Yahoo! Buzz, etc.

    3.) Don’t Neglect Your Industry… There are a lot of blogs and communities that you can leverage to help make your brancd more visible and reputable. If you’re stuck on finding new places, be sure to check sources like Google’s Blog Search. this helps to get links from related blogs, and in search optimization — that’s a great way to reinforce your rankings.

    4.) Brainstorming… Rebecca had a great shot of Darth Vader brainstorming on an easel as to what he should call the death star. Her point here though was to have a practice of writing things down and asking others for what they found interesting.

    Link Bait: Simple or Complex as You Want to Be

    Here Rebecca provided two examples. The first was a picture of a woman dressed in all red that looked like Carmen Sandiego. It was only one photo, but it received 6,000+ Diggs. On the flip side, one person took the time to record every MythBusters Myth — and the results of their findings on one page. Both incredibly popular… One took minutes, the other took days.

    Be Aware of Negative Factors

    You will always have people waiting to criticize — and criticizing is becoming much more popular these days. Do some pre-launch PR and be sure to incorporate others in your field for input, advice or feedback. Doing this will help to keep you in their good graces.

    Keep an Eye on Traffic

    Successful link bait is insanely productive in terms of the traffic it produces. Rebecca makes sure that you remember to keep your hosting in check with strong analytics. Keeping an eye on things will be a big way of retaining a stream of traffic for quite some time. While there is a major rush initially (as things get popular), there is also a point where people will continue to come back. Likewise, as Rebecca highlighted before, you can also earn some strong search engine rankings — so the traffic from those sources will also be something to watch.

    Don’t Forget…

    Link bait is not always going to be successful. Some of the link bait you create will inevitably fail. That’s okay, and it should serve as a learning process for you. It’s also tough to make sure link bait applies to your sector or readers. Otherwise, the overall value is decreased a bit as readers can feel alienated.

    Finally, Rebecca wanted us to know that while link bait “is a kick ass strategy” but it isn’t the sole solkution for ranking well.

    Brent Csutoras

    Next up was Brent Csutoras from BrentCsutoras.com, a self-admitted avid social media junkie. He knows that we want to grab links, increase our branding and retain traffic from it. Brent’s presentation began with an overview that included some of the most visible categories of link bait…

    Lists as Link Bait

    Lists, in particular, top ten lists — are amazingly successful. Brent mentions too that the importance of doing well on Digg is important. Using a twist on the popular list format can really help too… such as, not limiting your lists to ten items — or, by creating negative lists.

    How to Articles

    Brent next highlighted the how to articles and how they can serve as link bait. When creating How-To Link Bait, be sure to be helpful, make your content easy to read and use visuals often as it appeals to the nature of social media users.

    Current Events as Link Bait

    Current events are also a major source of link bait, and Brent recommends that you act fast, conduct research, and be as accurate as you possibly can to get things straight. You don’t have the time to review things over a long period of time — so make it clean and accurate and get it out there quickly using the right jargon and terms.

    Offbeat and Extreme Link Bait.

    These, for Brent, are as much fun to create as they are to read. Brent sees these as not only being very successful, but notes that because of the danger involved in these link bait articles, your clients may be reluctant to jump on board with the idea.

    Images as Link Bait

    Since images are incredibly viral, they serve as strong link bait. when you’re using images, be sure to make things safe for yourself. Keep your URLs short, and rather than just submit a JPEG, include it in a post on your site to help retain more value from the link bait.

    Tips for How to Craft Social Link Bait

    1.) Research: From your sector to whether it’s been done before, be sure to get out there and research what you’re up to. This helps to make sure your work is on point and will be received accordingly.

    2.) Titles and Descriptions: Create simple, strong, focused titles and write them in Title Case. Be sure to also use numbers (10 Vs. Ten) and use descriptions to back it up.

    3.) Interact and Share: You can’t submit and forget. Make sure others get involved and get your friends to come in and comment often to help control the message that browsers will see.

    General Tips on Social Media

    1.) Research communities associated with the nature of the bait
    2.) Use Images
    3.) Limit Ad Usage
    4.) Offer a Summary
    5.) No Errors (spelling, jargon, inaccurate info, etc.)
    6.) Avoid Duplication!
    7.) Check what has worked before
    8.) The Digg Effect (Handling massive amounts of traffic)
    9.) Be Link Worthy
    10.) Submit at the Right Time (no holidays, weekends, night)

    Cameron Olthuis

    Cameron Olthuis rounded out the panel with some strong case studies on exactly how badly the Digg effect can impact your link bait efforts. In short, you absolutely need to make sure your server is in solid shape here. If you’re unable to handle the traffic load — you’ll end up crashing your server and your stories will get buried and slammed.

    Cameron continued on by providing what he saw as some of the strongest types of link bait. Such including information, controversial, humor, news and articles that served as tools.

    Quick Benefits of Link Bait

  • Links!
  • Link Profile (links are natural, not paid, etc.)
  • Traffic
  • Branding
  • Bookmarks
  • Media & Publicity
  • Cameron also indicated the importance here of being creative, and thinking outside the box while creating link bait. One of the first steps he recommends is searching to see what has worked on sites like Digg and Delicious in the past. This often provides insight as to what to write about in the future. His particular example was for a drug rehabilitation center, and how he needed to carefully review how previous success stories and models could be applied to his client’s needs.

    As both Rebecca and Brent highlighted — brainstorming was also key for Cameron’s success in link building efforts.

    The users on social news sites have very short attention spans. Because of this it is important to keep things as simple as possible. The use of lists, pictures, and summaries all help to keep things in short view for users. Once you’ve grabbed them, your link bait has been successful.

    Cameron also reiterated Brent’s earlier points of creating clear and concise titles, descriptions and summaries of your work. This is of course critical, as you’ll need to have a stellar headline to get popular on the biggest players in social media and news aggregation.

    Conclusions on the Panel

    Researching your market or sector is paramount to your success with link bait efforts. Reviewing what has and what has not worked is certainly key to your success. Popular stories are generally there for a reason. You can and should be able to draw conclusions about keywords and phrases to use in your link bait efforts. For example, if Digg Users hat “poker” you need to continue that trend.

    Once you have things researched well, it’s time to make sure that your content is creative. Don’t stop with quality and creative writing — incorporate things like images to keep readers engaged.

    Finally, it is important to be well connected. Build a network of users you can relate well with. Share stories and help to jump start the articles on Digg, Delicious, etc. Doing this allows your content to get out there faster — and in a world dictated by current events — it is critical to be the first out there with something.

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