Hype, spin or just pure nonsense; they have all been around forever (think about the bill of goods that the devil sold Eve). Since we live in a day and age where information is king we all need to keep our radar wide open for what is real and what isn’t. There is more “information” than ever before and the natural outflow of that is that there is more pure unadulterated BS out than ever before as well.
How does this relate to search marketing? One of the best things you can do is to build relevant inbound links. We have gone over that in the past (If Nothing Else Link, Link and Link Some More, May 3, 2008) so here we will talk about one of the best ways to develop these inbound links. The technique is called link baiting. For those of you who are SEO “experts” you can check out now. I understand. If this idea sounds like something illegal or at the least subversive, read on.
The general idea behind link baiting is pretty basic. The more entertaining or controversial your” “bait” (article, Top Ten List, blog post etc, etc) the more likely people are to pick it up and post it, write about it then link to it (or simply get the link that you have embedded in post). Now, not everything that you write as bait will be taken. It’s very much like fishing (hence the name link bait). You need to use the right technique that will create a buzz with whatever audience you are trying to attract.
I think the best way to show this is to give you a real life example. The other day a guy who has a significant following in the search engine optimization (SEO) world, Shoemoney (visit at your own risk because the language is not always professional…you have been warned) posted one of his usual rants about SEO is dying. Well, this created a real ruckus among SEO types. One of the post writers for Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim, Greg Howlett, posted saying he agreed with Shoemoney. If you look at the number of comments for some of the other posts on Marketing Pilgrim the response to this “controversial” statement is tremendous (53 comments) and caused Greg to post a follow up to clarify his statements and the accusations that were tossed his way.
Sounds like a real mess, huh? Let’s do some forensics on it. Although many people disagreed with both Shoemoney and Greg very few will actually remember and hold it against them. So nothing lost there. Shoemoney gets a great link from Marketing Pilgrim which helps his efforts. Greg gets to post a follow up and talk some more. And finally, there are people out on the internet like me who are continuing the conversation and keeping it alive. While a link from http://www.frankthinking.com/won’t make or break them it won’t hurt. I may be one of hundreds of relevant links that have generated by this little “issue”.
So what does it mean for you and the business you are in? Honestly, I don’t know. Each industry will have different opportunities to link bait. Some industries it may not work at all. This is an area that needs to be explored with someone who has some experience. The real benefit is that you can generate some buzz and get some SEO value by getting some relevant links. It also is a great PR move when it works. Expect about a 10-20% success rate on these deals until you see what works and doesn’t with your industry.
SMB Takeaway: Link baiting is an interesting option to develop links for your website. It is certainly something that you should consider. If there is a controversial or hot topic in your industry and you have a definitive position think about how you can leverage that into some inbound links that will help you with the search engines.
Thanks and have a great day!