Tag Archives: link building

What is “linkbait”?

Here’s the latest idea to “lure” others to link to your site:  offer free and appealing “linkbait” (like interesting and embedable graphics or widgets).  This recent article from SEARCH ENGINE LAND explores two separate campaigns to “churn the waters” in this way (and gets its own link from me in the process!)

“In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), the tactic known as “linkbait” is one of the few link building tactics the search engines embrace, encourage and algorithmically reward. The reason for this is simple, linkbait generates editorial links which the search engines love. Knowing this and understanding the influence of universal search, the bounty placed on paid links and the need to build brand on an increasingly cluttered Web, creating and launching successful linkbait may be more important than ever before.

I recently came across a couple of linkbait campaigns, they’re from different companies in the same industry. Both used an info graphic to convey their message but one is better in terms of creativity, marketing and linkability. It’s this “linkability” which is the essence needed to attract links and take your content viral. Since the two pieces targeted the same audience but took different approaches, I thought they’d make a great comparison study on what you should and shouldn’t do when creating linkbait.  (Note:  I have permission from the owner of the less stellar linkbait to use it here.) Before we get started, a quick definition of linkbait.

What is linkbaiting?

 Linkbaiting is a link building tactic which uses dynamic content to attract attention and links. The term and technique gained prominence in 2005/2006  when controversial blog posts and articles were used  to “flame” and/or humor people into linking. It’s quietly morphed into a more mainstream “content generation” method using elements such as puzzles, contests, widgets, infographics and inspirational content to attract attention and links. 

Good and not-so-good linkbait Both companies in our comparison study are in the ink cartridge industry which is a busy and competitive space.  Each created an infographic to show how many pieces of paper it would take to print every tweet sent. Great tie-in for an ink cartridge company but the similarity between the two linkbaits stops there. To help with the comparison process, I’ve listed three important components of a linkbait campaign and compared the two pieces to each.Component #1: emotion 

Whether you make them laugh or cry, your visitors will remember what they see if your linkbait stirs an emotion.  Both pieces provided impressive statistics, but Company A didn’t make me work to find them, their information was presented in short, easy-to-read captions.Company A Intro:

 

 Company B:

 Company B used too much verbiage and not enough graphics so I started skimming and skipping over segments to get through it. Long sentences and lots of text can be a killer with linkbait, keep your initial call to action and body content short and sweet.

 

 Component #2: information

 Linkbait should have something new or eye-opening as part of its content so the message sticks long after you’ve left it. Both campaigns did this by showing the amount of  paper needed  to print every tweet sent but Company A’s linkbait made it easy for me to understand and be impressed by what I was reading. Seven billion tweets printed = 3.5 million pounds of paper, that’s a lot of dead trees.

Company A, Part 2:

 

 Component #3: viral

 The goal of any linkbait is simple… get as many people to see and link to it as possible. In order for this to happen, the bait needs to be  promoted heavily through social and traditional media for a better chance at going viral. The viral element is highly desirable for many reasons but reach and cost are the two biggest. People passing linkbait costs you nothing, nets views from a wide audience and hopefully more media attention down the road.

Company A’s linkbait was highlighted on Mashable, the article had over 1100 retweets and 18 comments. Comments are important to help with the next piece of linkbait, check out some of the advice left for Company A. According to Yahoo! Site Explorer, Company A’s linkbait was linked to by over 940 sources while Company B’s had substantially fewer inbound links. Since Company B was second to launch,  their data was old news and ignored in traditional and social media. Sometimes, being first is all you need.

Linkbait takeaways

Keep the linkbait short and sweet and be sure to include an “embed this image” option for easy reprint.  Include Twitter, Facebook and Stumble share buttons.

  1. Keep an eye on the social media sites and what’s going hot in your industry, try to create linkbait around topics people are reading and talking about. (Both companies used Twitter  in their titles which was smart!)
  2. Launch your linkbait to a specific group of people before going public, tap the associations and social media communities you belong to for feedback and a jumpstart.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use bright colors, bold graphics and slogans. You want to be remembered and passed around, not filed away under “cute”.

This post is focused on using linkbait as a SEO link attraction method but not everyone uses linkbait for links, some want to build brand or promote charitable causes. Take a look at what the Special Olympics is doing, I think it’s awesome and one of the best examples of linkbait I’ve seen outside of SEO. Here’s the full linkbait piece from  Company A and Company B.

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Building Links for Bing

It’s easy for businesses to get caught up in Google’s expectations for their sites, when trying to market through search. That’s certainly a wise thing to do, considering Google dominates the search market by a huge margin. Still, there are other search engines that people are using, and it is also wise to make sure your site is performing to the best of its ability in those too.

I’m obviously talking about Yahoo and Bing, but Yahoo’s share is declining, while Bing’s is gaining. Furthermore, if the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo goes through, Bing search will be talking over Yahoo anyway.

Do you take Bing into account when optimizing your site? Comment here.

Rick DeJarnette We don’t hear as much about what Bing wants out of a site for rankings, but Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center has shared some dos and don’ts of link-building for Bing. Not surprisingly, a lot of his advice for honoring Bing’s policy, does not differ too much from advice that Google would give you. It is, however, still always nice to see how they feel, just to clear up any possible confusion.

Like Google, Bing places great emphasis on quality links to determine its rankings. “Just don’t make the mistake of believing it will result in instant gratification. Successful link building efforts require a long-term commitment, not an overnight or turnkey solution,” says DeJarnette. “You need to continually invest in link building efforts with creativity and time.”

What Not To Do

DeJarnette shared a list of things that you should avoid in your link building efforts, if it is a good Bing ranking that you are after. Here is what Bing says will get your site reviewed more closely by staff:

1. The number of inbound links suddenly increases by orders of magnitude in a short period of time

2. Many inbound links coming from irrelevant blog comments and/or from unrelated sites

3. Using hidden links in your pages

4. Receiving inbound links from paid link farms, link exchanges, or known “bad neighborhoods” on the Web

5. Linking out to known web spam sites

“When probable manipulation is detected, a spam rank factor is applied to a site, depending upon the type and severity of the infraction,” says DeJarnette. “If the spam rating is high, a site can be penalized with a lowered rank. If the violations are egregious, a site can be temporarily or even permanently purged from the index.”

What To Do

DeJarnette also shared some tips for getting more quality links. Following are Bing’s tips for effective link building (paraphrased):

1. Develop your site as a business brand and brand it consistently

2. Find relevant industry experts, product reviewers, bloggers, and media folk, and make sure they’re aware of your site/content

3. Publish concise, informative press releases online

4. Publish expert articles to online article directories

5. Participate in relevant conversations on blogs/forums, referring back to your site’s content when applicable

6. Use social networks to connect to industry influencers (make sure you have links to your site in your profiles)

7. Create an email newsletter with notifications of new content

8. Launch a blog/forum on your site

9. Participate in relevant industry associations and especially in their online forums
  
10. Strive to become a trusted expert voice for your industry, while promoting your site

Most of the stuff DeJarnette shared is nothing any savvy search marketer is not already aware of. That said, there are clearly plenty of online (and offline for that matter) businesses out there that don’t have savvy search marketers on the payroll. It can be quite helpful when a search engine itself lays out what to do and what not to do to help webmasters get better rankings.

Courtesy of WebProNews.