There has been a lot of talk recently about linkbait, the new SEO buzzword for doing something that makes generates a lot of links to your website. Jim Westergren has a great list of things that make for great linkbait to your site:

  • Build a useful tool
  • Make a valuable resource (lists, special reports, history of, how to, etc.)
  • Write an interesting article
  • Run a newsworthy "event" such as a contest
  • Test something new that has not been done before
  • Be the first in doing something on the internet
  • Write something controversial
  • Be the first to write the latest news in your niche
  • Be the first to expose a scammer
  • Disagree with an authority
  • Write some funny humor
  • Make an interesting picture
  • Be the first to research and document something
  • Make a theme, plugin or piece of software
  • Make a tool that others can put on their sites but that links to you
  • Make a joke about a known person
  • Make a resource that is just in time for a major event
  • Write an outrageous theory and back it up with logics
  • Write useful comments on something that is happening
  • Give something valuable for free
  • Coin a new acronym in your niche and get people to talk about it
  • Become an expert in your niche and write valuable information

Link baiting can be so effective that some SEOs are now offering specific link baiting services or are integrating link baiting services as part of their SEO campaigns. That sounds like a great SEO "strategy" but the more I considered this, the more I realized that linkbaiting is really already part of a search engine optimization/marketing campaign, or at least it should be.

I understand what linkbaiters are doing, and it is a different kind of service, but shouldn't a well developed website with lots of great information already be it's own linkbait? Isn't the SEO Marketer's job to make the site more appealing to both search engines and site visitors alike? Good sites that provide valuable information and/or services get links. It almost seems that linkbaiting for the purposes of getting links (as opposed to helping a company bring in targeted traffic) is a sham. Or is it? Are there valuable reasons to strive for links and links alone, even when the links by themselves don't help with the actual marketing of a site?

When you boil it down, link baiting is really similar to the job of a publicist. A publicist is supposed to manage an individual's or company's public presence (also a form of public relations). A publicist's job is to get exposure and build branding. Tactics provide by this type of service may not have any immediate returns in regards to sales, but we all know that branding can play a significant role in long-term sales.

In the SEO industry, web tools, such as our CodeMonitor tool, are often used as linkbait. These web tools are often used by industry insiders and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with getting more sales. So why spend the money in the tool development? Because good tools get links, links create exposure, and exposure drives traffic and traffic brings targeted visitors who may purchase the services, which does equal sales. In a round about way, linkbait such as this can have a significant effect.

Linkbating has a role within SEO, but it should already be considered as part of the marketing side of the SEO campaign. While the SEO Marketers are looking for ways to improve conversions, they should also be thinking about how to "linkbait" others into linking to their site. It might be a one-time only thing, or maybe they can come up with a significant linkbait every few months, but either way, doing what any good marketer does should be a form of linkbait in itself.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

August 16, 2006

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

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