Linkbait Driving the Creative Side of SEM + How to Develop those Links?

SMS Text

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 Don’t Stand on Boxes: Signaling Theory in Design
Influencing Influencers

Garrett French
Garrett French is a long time search marketer, blogger and conversatrional marketing consultant.
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  • “…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…”

    Exactly Garrett, I’ve always felt that trickle down link baiting can be much more effective than going out and trying to secure those PageRank and SEO driven “golden links.”

    Link baiting is actually, in my humble opinion, not a new concept and possibly one of the oldest parts of the online marketing puzzle.

    Before there were banners, before there was Goto and paid search, before Google was born there were links, the building block of the web.

    Back in the day, links meant traffic. Anyone with a Webtrends account could track referrals from links, and those sales, and by setting up a resource as the foundation of a network, the initial links would come out of that resource and direct potential clients or customers to “point of purchase” destinations.

    Sure, things are WAAAYYY different now, but the old mantra of linking for value might as well be tattoo’d on our inner eyelids.

    With the clutter out there, yes, it’s much more difficult to secure those links, which has led to the Art of Link Baiting, and thankfully with social media, news, blogs and 2.0 projects… the right ideas and imaginations bring much more value via working smarter as opposed to working harder.

  • By the way, speaking of Nick, I have always been impressed by his style of direct and sometimes confrontational writing, which in essense, can drive links, but when Performancing launched, I was muuuch more impressed by the tools he had planned out for that launch and the timeliness of it (speaking of which, Nick, please send me an email explaining WTF is going on with Performancing).

    A recent launch which reminds me of this a bit is SoloSEO. This week they came out with some majorly useful MyBlogLog tools which can help with community building, readership building and long term linking… and they have totally been rewarded by the link slappy blogosphere for their proactive launch of these MyBlogLog tools.

  • You know, it astonish me just how many “corporate minds” don’t get this. Link bait/exchanges are at the heart of blogging. Even though they’re text-based, web-driven media, blogs are kind of a media all of their own. They have their own modus operandi altogether, and anyone who’s been blogging since before the “private sector” caught on knows that linking is what it’s all about.

    I actually commented to this effect on a related post at CopyBlogger. I was surprised when someone responded that a blogroll is passe. I couldn’t help but rebutt about how a blogroll is in the spirit of blogging.

    I guess only time will really tell, though, about where linkbaiting’s destiny lies.