If you aren't already reading Graywolf's SEO Blog, you need to add it to your feed reader. One of the smartest (and most quotable) folks in the search marketing industry, Michael Gray has been offering up a ton of excellent insight lately. In fact, there's a great interview with Michael covering a range of advanced linking strategies over at Link Juicy right now.
In it, Michael does a great job of boiling the idea of link bait down to it's roots. Link bait is all about catching your eye and while the term is new, the concept is not.
People in the online world think linkbaiting is some new concept, but it's been going on in the print and magazine world forever. Visit any bookstore or magazine stand look at some of the covers you'll see cover stories like this "5 Bedroom Tricks That Will Make Your Sex Life Sizzle", "30 Day Total Body Makeover", or "Tips to Help You Get Organized This Weekend". They are titles designed to catch your eye, connect with you personally, help you solve a problem, and ultimately make you buy the magazine.I remember listening to all the buzz about link bait when the term was first coined a ways back and thinking "wait, this isn't new...it's called good content marketing." Michael's right though in that it goes back even further than catchy online content. People have been standing in grocery store lines scanning "content bait" for decades.
Michael also offers up a quick list of four things you need when crafting solid link bait.
The rest of the article is absolutely packed with great perspective, quotable quotes and some really strong insight into targeting your audience, leveraging social bookmarking sites and diversifying your links to protect your site from shifting algorithms. He also weighs in (again) on the paid links debate, offering up a pretty lengthy analogy to explain why he's so up in arms over Google's crusade against paid links.
I think it might be a bit helpful to use an analogy to help people understand it in real life terms. Let's say you own a house and to make the math easy we'll say it's worth $100,000. A developer comes along and offers you $150,000 on the spot to buy it from. You think wow that's $50,000 for doing nothing but being in the right place at the right time. You decide to sell, make a nice profit and are pretty happy with yourself. Of course you might feel a little bit different if you discovered your old house is smack dab in the area that Disney World is going to build a new theme park, and you could have gotten $500,000 for it. If only you had known all the facts and the true value of the real estate, you might not have been so happy with the peanuts the developer was willing to give you.
Websites are no different, most people don't know the true value of the websites they own, run and develop. Many people build them as a hobby and when something like AdSense comes along and gives them the ability to go from costing them time and money, to making $200-$300 a month profit, just like the guy selling his house before, they are happy. Of course they are also ignorant to it's true value. What if the guy running the hobby website finally figures out it's true value, and instead of taking the AdSense chump change, he starts selling text link advertisements and brings in $2,000 to $3,000 a month? That extra money would probably really make a difference in his life, and by the way those numbers are real for more than one website I manage. It's in Google's best interests to keep you in the dark as to the real value your website has, as long as they can keep charging the advertisers top dollar, they will sacrifice a few nickels and dimes to you via AdSense.
If you have any interest at all in learning more about link building or even just improving your marketing presence online, this is a must read interview.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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