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Link Baiting & Viral Search Success

This is a transcript of the live session in San Jose, August 21, 2007. Subject to typographical errors.

What better way to get links than by doing something that makes people feel compelled to link to you? That’s link baiting — coming up with an idea, a service, even a controversy — that gets people talking and linking your way. A viral campaign is similar — a program, a system or an encouragement that gets people linking to you over time. This session is designed for experienced marketers. Beginners should only attend if they’ve gone through the Link Building Basics session earlier in the conference.





Rebecca Kelley:

Content specifically aimed to target the linkerati – tool, article, list, video – anything people want to share. Succesful link bait brings in alot of traffic. A clever way to get site noticed, and have people link to it.

Who are the linkerati? The web savvy bloggers, journalists, etc. Focus on tech centric link happy audience. Also keep users in mind.

Linkbait opportunities: Go to various social media and news site. Look for industry relevant content. Look if competitiors have done successful campaigns. Get an idea of what works. Discover the big players in your field. Research blogs, forums, communities. Leverage community after launch. Target community appropriate to your subject.

First – select a content focus – wrote blog post about “dating my ex was like playing doom 2 in nightmare mode”. Meld together branding and viral elements. Want to build brand value – brand association. Want to be on topic if you can, to get keyword relevance.

Web 2.0 look and feel is good, but not essential. Some sketches on paper have gotten many Diggs. Make your link bait simple and user friendly. Target emotions, the emotions that make people link. The linkerati are emotional. They are angry, excited, like controversy – take advantage of this. Don’t forget vanity – stroke the ego. Cartoons, images of people are good examples.

The launch process: Do a little prelaunch PR. Leverage the community – the forums, the blogs. Connect with them – ask opinion before launching your piece. If they contribute – more likely to help out.

Once launched, want to monitor and make sure traffic is handled. First 15 minutes crucial for the RSS community. A succesful piece can get 10,000 visitors and hour from Digg or StumbleUpon. Static pages can handle alot of traffic, dynamic pages might have problems.

Recieving ongoing value from linkbait. Take advtange of traffic increase – get a bump in users – the stickiness factor. People will return. Great way to build userbase. Good link bait is relevant, and continuous. Sometimes traffic pours in for months.

Keep in mind that linkbait is not a sure thing. Sometimes campaigns don’t work out. Sooner or later you will find the formula for success – lots of trial and error. Link bait targets a specific audience. Need to think outside the box and think in their shoes. Figure out what people want to link to.

Link bait is not a quick fix. No set and forget. Need to take advantage of traffic and new users. Can’t be lazy. Clever and fun way to get links, but it is no easy solution.

Cameron Olthius:

Linkbait is remarkable content or feature on your website that compels others to link to you from other sites. Informational, Controversial, Humor, News – first to break a story or a good opinion, and Tools.

Benefits: Links! Duh! It’s link building in mass. Traditional linking is time consuming. Link bait can get 500 to 1000 links in a days effort. Link building in mass. These natural links look great as a backlink profile. Traffic, branding – people percieve you as an authority on a topic. Bookmarks are extra links and they want to revisit your site.

Finding link bait ideas. Find what communities like that are already relevant. Gives great inspiration. Do a brainstorming session based on research – throw on whiteboard. Next, create the content. Make it social media friendly. When they come to a site, they want to get a quick 30 second read, bookmark it, link to it. Don’t spend much time on the site!

Keys to promotion: Have a power account. It’s possible to get content out if not a power user – but if you are the success rate becomes higher. To build a power account, want to provide value to the community. People look at profiles and hate self promotion. Must appear to be a legitimate user. Need good titles and descriptions. Will make or break it. Need to submit content to proper category. Target proper sites. The big guys give good bang for the buck, but many times – niche is better – like Sphinn.

Ideas beyond content: Flash games, viral videos, mashups, images, widgets – very powerful, and tools.

Jenifer Laycock:

It is primarily about links – thats the core. There are side benefits. Works well because people are looking for things to talk about -to post, to blog. Fill that need.

What is viral marketing? More about word of mouth shifted to online world. More than just links – great for brand building and driving conversions. Viral marketing works so well, because people listen to friends, and trustworthy people. People are building trust relationships online – viewed different than advertising. Why viral? Cost is in your idea. No placement cost. Takes alot of creativity and originality, but free placement. Also it creates brand evangelists. Increases your credibility. Finally, there is a rapid response rate. It spreads instantly. Word of mouth on crack!

How? Ask yourself – what sparks passion in customers. Find out where customers are talking – and find out what sparks long threads, and many comments. Play off that. What hasn’t been done before. How will your idea benefit your users? Ask yourself if audience will risk reputation on this. Use other people’s resources. Get ad space without buying an ad. Widgets are great – like MyBlogLog. Cheap example – blog quiz. Huge on Myspace, Facebook.

Be ready to act. Understand how to use social media so when opportunity comes up you can take advantage of this. When opportunity presents itself – be ready to act. Shows her Lactivist site. Prepare the right story. Lengthy blog post filled with humor. Need a buzzworthy hook. Need a call to action. Make it easy to spread. Plant the seeds – send a few emails out. Motivate linking. People who link get a link back.

Chris Boggs:

Plenty of ways to build links without social communities and Digg. Best practices – quid pro quo. Linkbaiting – the valuable thing is the content, and in exchange a link is returned. Getting links on Matt Cutt’s blog is a best practice LOL.

Link Baiting Research: Use Yahoo Site Explorer. Shows tips and tricks. Link baiting is effective in getting links to subpages – because in most cases the bait is not on the homepage. Increases deep link ratio.

Degrees of separation exercise: When looking for links, going to run out of sites in the same topic. Look for closely related content site. Goes out to 6 or 7 degrees of separation. There is a semantic connectivity between the degrees of seperation.

Once mapped, additional research is required for linkbaiting efforts. Examine buzzworthy topics. Look for trends across all the 7 degrees of separation. Participate in communities discussing the issues. Create ubiquitous link bait – which will be more likely to draw links form a larger variety of web sites – and looks very natural! The majority of links should be semantically relevant. Take it viral. One idea builds on another.

[tags]ses, ses san jose, search engine strategies, link bait, link baiting, viral marketing[/tags]

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