3 Steps to Solid Linkbait

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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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