Link Baiting Case Study from Search Engine Journal
Link baiting (or linkbaiting) is the emerging art of building a useful tool, writing an interesting article, or running a newsworthy ‘event’ on a web site which naturally attracts links. Examples of some link baiting may be running a contest which includes multiple sites (such as blog contests or niche site award contests), testing a new advertising format (which was great in more ways than one for those of us who had Google AdSense up and running the days it launched), and throwing a wrench into a breaking or popular news story via attacks, a new spin, or a dash of humor. If anything, the social web and blogosphere have made linkbaiting a reality which only existed for a select few who already enjoyed broad reach and incredible viral marketing skills years ago.
I’ve even had an influx of links by not linking, like when Jeremy Zawodny ‘attacked’ me in his blog for forgetting to link to a quote from the Yahoo Search Blog. This led to a huge leap in traffic, ad revenue, and RSS subscriptions for the day before I even showed up at work and realized what was going on. It also led to a lot of constructive criticism of this blog from a very select focus group in Jeremy’s comments; which was taken to heart.
After looking up the term “link baiting” on Google I noticed that the Search Engine Journal was #1, and #2 for “linkbaiting” (following Performancing); hence I reckon this makes us an authority on linkbaiting, special thanks to Rand and Rob.
Speaking of link baiting, I’m quite proud of the job SEJ did with our Search Blog Awards, which generated hundreds of links from sites and blogs which are completely relevant to our theme, content and market. Here’s how it worked out:
1. I noticed that there are all kinds of cool blog awards and search engine awards, but no specific search blog awards. So I created one.
2. I started with nominations to see which blogs prove to be popular among the SEO/SEM crowd
3. Aaron Wall and I then categorized those nominations into SEO, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine News, Blog Search, and other categories, including some special head to head voting; Matt Cutts vs. Jeremy Zawodny, and SE Roundtable vs. Threadwatch.
4. I then sent out a handful of emails to some choice bloggers whom I have a trusted relationship with, blogs then started posting links to the awards.
5. Then, other bloggers cover the story (and link to SEJ) and bloggers who I did not know found mentions of their blogs on other blogs, they of course wanted to win the competition, and linked to the SEJ.
6. As the week went on, Jeremy Zawodny and Matt Cutts get competitive as the awards gain momentum, and place posts about the competition on their VERY POPULAR blogs : Jeremy’s post and Matt’s post.
Matt Cutts, Senior Google Engineer even wrote : “By the way, funny, creative awards attract link love. Loren, lots of SEO blogs will link to you as a result of your blog awards. Smart, very smart.”
7. More blogs and sites then picked up the contest. I thought to myself “How the hell did I pull this off?” and pondered ways to capitalize on the momentum even more, like releasing the news of one winner per day next week on SEJ.
8. This link baiting effort took me about 4 hours of work and resulted in quite valuable natural links to the site, and not a bunch of links from offbeat directories or sites which have included me with 1,000’s of irrelevant links to my content. In essence, the linking results of the Search Blogs Awards were more or less perfect.
* The results of the contest led to the winning blogs announcing they have won and linking back to Search Engine Journal, which was not required.
Here’s a review of links gained:
Nominations Announcement Post : Yahoo : 32 backlinks
Vote for Favorite Search Blogs Post : Yahoo : 1,960 Backlinks
* 1,960 links to the contest announcement page is pretty good, even if 10% are judged to be quality back links, that’s still 196 more than I had beforehand. If $100 per link is the going rate for an organic & valuable link to a web site, then the four hours I put into this contest resulted in $196,000 worth of links. That’s one valuable idea.
* Given the contest was over less than a month ago, it’s difficult to judge the effects on search ranking, but I am seeing a lot more web search generated referrals over the past two weeks, which I’m assuming are a result of this contest (and over 2,800 pages of content).
This is just one example of a quality linkbaiting campaign and as linkbaiting grows, especially with an ‘unofficial’ endorsement from Google via Matt Cutts, expect the link generation idea market to heat up in the SEO and Internet Marketing (since linking is essentially for traffic generation) industry. How can you produce a successful linkbaiting campaign for your niche market?