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Given the difficulty of obtaining links from other sites (backlinks), the whole issue of how to best accomplish this is ferociously discussed in SEO circles. One of the idea arising from this brainstorming is the concept of link baiting. Link what? Link Baiting is putting something compelling on your site that will attract links from other sites and particularly links from key parts of the so-called web 2.0 environment.
Behr created an interacive colour chart where the user selects their colour and sees it used in various examples. ChessBaron created a system of games between their branches where they encouraged anyone to email the next suggested moves for that country's game. As a basic it needs to be something interesting that catches peoples attention. At best it's a compelling inclusion that generates buzz and excitement in the web space. It needs thought to be able to come up with a great idea for a site that will engage people. Lists of things (10 ways to get the girl, 5 steps to financial freedom, etc.) are good ideas for encapsulated nuggets of information for people to link to. Interactive web applications, free tools, free downloads - all these are good ideas for link bait. They need not be sensational, it can be something that people in that space are drawn to.
Avoid distracting Visitors from the sites main purpose
Tempting though it may be to put an interactive dancing chicken (subservientchicken.com) on the front page of your site - what's the point? It distracts from the sites purpose completely - visitors are distracted by the stunt and may get to your product or may not. If they do - how seriously will they take the offering when preceded by something frivolous? The link bait needs to appeal to webmasters of sites that may link to you, but not distract visitors to your site looking for your product. What works for Burger King may not work for a site marketing intricate door latches. What will engage your visitors and appeal to your industry?
Sensationalism needs to fit in with your sites theme
If you have a blinding flash of light and see something sensational that could fit in well to your site - just think carefully about the effect on your audience. If you have something sensational and it's on theme, attractive to visitors, not distracting - go for it! But beware the effects on your business. However, if it's short term distraction and you really need to focus on gettting backlinks - it may well be worth while to focus on gettting those links through temporary content that is a little distracting, until links are in place. Then remove or relegate the link bait as the visitor count increases. But even with this mind set - the link bait needs to be related to the theme of the site - otherwise you'll just attract the wrong links.
Think carefully how the link bait will be seen by Search Engines, Customers and Potential Linkers. None of these should be offended or distracted by the bait. Assume the roles of each and run through your idea in that mode. As ongoing content for your site attracting visitors and other webmasters, you'll need to show it in such a way as to attarct all three. Backlinks will come, perhaps stimulated by some encouragement from them such as provided html for the right anchor text and an ongoing link campaign, where now, when recipients of that email visit your site they'll see something they like and respond accordingly.
One of Our Examples
ChessBaron is a chess retail site that started with the UK and now has branches in the USA, Canada and France. Due to our work, the site ranks as number one in Google UK for many choice phrases. The business provides a living salary for many people and ChessBaron wanted link baiting content that would attract visitors and potential linkers, whilst not offending the search engines. After some brainstorming we recommended a series of games between national branches and displayed on a pop up originating from the front page. The site would encourage people to email in their suggested moves. They were invited to help for the national site and would be urged to help for the national good, for national pride. Suggested moves were recorded for visitors to note. The most popular moves were made and the porocess would start with the other branch. This was a very successful campaign and resulted in links and goodwill from many clubs that were previously somewhat cold towards a purely retail site. The campaign was not distracting to buyers who visited the sites, but appealed to chess clubs who could provide links from sites that were attractive to the search engines.
See our SEO Services section for details on how TurnerDow can assist with a Link Baiting campaign.
Further Reading: Link Baiting Explanation | Forum on Link Baiting
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