SEO

3 Steps to Solid Linkbait

Linkbait was a popular topic last week at SMX Social Media in New York City. While social media experts understand link bait inside and out, it is still a new concept for many Internet marketers.

To be clear, Link bait is any sort of content that you create with the intentions of making it virally popular. The beauty of social media is that users flock to this viral content early and link back often.

Developing inbound links has always been a smart way to support your optimization efforts. Unfortunately, gathering inbound links is often a time consuming or an expensive process. Many times, it can be both.

Link bait though is becoming wildly popular because of it’s uncanny ability to quickly generate loads of free links. For search marketing purposes, it really is a necessity.

Research is Critical

One of the first sessions at SMX was a panel held by social media experts Rebecca Kelley, Cameron Olthuis and Brent Csutoras. When Rebecca took the podium — she made one thing clear — that research is critical. Brent and Cameron went on to reiterate that point — so it’s only fair that I give them all the credit where it is due.

How can you research link bait though if it’s something entirely new to you? The first step is to look at your industry or niche for some clues.

When we talk about researching link bait, you need to start on the most popular social media site — Digg. Digg is so widely recognized and trafficked that stories going “popular” can often shut servers down with their onslaught of traffic. To research on Digg, just use their search function or navigate through the various categories for the best match to your sector.

You want to look beyond the number of Diggs a story or link has. Look for those with the strongest level of comments and supporters, and be faithful that such topics can yield success. After thorough research in each category, you can begin to draw a number of conclusions. For example, Digg dislikes search marketers and SEO as well as poker and related topics. Similar facts can emerge in other categories as well if you only take the time to research them thoroughly.

Original and Creative

While you are trying to gain some degree of viral status with your content, you cannot fool the system. That’s because people are the system — and in the case of social media — these people are extremely savvy to what you are bringing to the table. If it’s genuine, original and creative you just may win out with a quality piece of link bait.

If you try to recreate something that is tired, spammy or fake — you will be called out on it.

Understand that perception is reality. If you have a great blog post that would actually be successful when used as linkbait, make sure you cater to these types of systems. Strip out advertising to all those coming into your site from sources like Redit, Digg and Delicious to help get your content in front of the people that seek it out. If a user thinks that you are trying to profit from their attention rather than provide them with what they are after, they will quickly cut you down to size.

Why it’s Called SOCIAL Media

Just this morning I was reading a great recap from Derek Edmond of Ko Marketing Associates and Cape Cod SEO. In his recap of SMX Derek offers me a quote that I’ll borrow to make my final point here:

If you have something of value to give to a community and you can create an effective way to communicate that you’ve got a far better chance of success.

Link bait is of course a tool that requires social media and social networking to be a success. By that very nature then, we are working with other people and communicating with them through the content we suggest and the recaps we provide.

It is the community of these social tools that will make or break our efforts. The faster we understand that the communities are our friends, the more quickly we will be rewarded with successful link bait efforts.

Before you cast a line that is all baited up though, be sure that you are already a contributing member to the greater community. If you show up as the new kid on the block and appear as though you are there to just push content on everyone else, you will have a hard time befriending others in the community.

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4 thoughts on “3 Steps to Solid Linkbait

  1. Thanks for the links and I like the way you wrapped this up into 3 distinct objectives.

    There were some really great ideas, examples and best practices to be realized in that link baiting session.

  2. Great post! However I have a disagreement. I don’t agree with the statement that you should never have advertising on the really good content because your readers will give you flak about it. Anyone who has ever invested the time to develop great content will agree that their ability to profit from it in some way is what allows them the time to create it in the first place. Most people don’t create awesome content simply because they are “good people” they do it because they think they can make money off it.

    Second, consumers don’t punish magazines, TV, or radio for including advertising in otherwise great content or entertainment despite the fact that these mediums are largely ad content. We may all hate having ads pushed at us, but I believe most people accept it as the “payment” for the access to the content or entertainment they get for free.

  3. I question the value of spending the time to create link bait at a super niched down level. Say a realtor in a city who blogs. If he is a good local blogger he wouldnt concern himself much in issues outside his community. In order to get link from link bait he probably have to cast a wide net beyond the focus of his audience.

    Has anyone done this with success in a tight niche? Or do you agree that it is mostly useful in more wider arenas?