Before the opus of social content (linkbait), an Internet marketer must convince a client of the validity of social media-driven linkbait campaigns and their ability to aid SEO efforts. An effective persuasion tactic is to show them samples of competitors’ successful social media marketing campaigns and results from the social content promotion. A successful promotion campaign is the goal, but as in alchemy, one must first transform a basic idea into linkbait gold.
1. Content Development
The first element is research of the niche and applicable keywords. Consistently produced ideas, coupled with industrious research, proper formatting, and unique angles for execution, can quickly result in content ready for a social media audience.
Use an emotional, psychologically-driven headline that is appropriately altered for each venue. Research each social site; know their phraseology in order to make the keyword feel natural in the headline (otherwise, content could be ghost-banned.)
Images, videos, humorous writing, and widgets (like a linguistics calculator, or a time-of-day app for the universe by stars) often go viral because people enjoy sharing them. AddThis.com and AddtoAny.com are great widget resources which can maximize linkbait opportunities as they extend a call-to-action for sharing. Users enjoy commenting (or arguing) about a piece, therefore, enabling comments can lead to a debate.
Where and how to host is important: using a separate page, which doesn’t have distracting side bars or ads, is the best option for linkbait. Make sure that your hosting can handle a high-server load. In the event of your content going viral, you may see tens or hundreds of thousands of visits in a short period of time. There’s nothing worse than watching content fail because it was so successful.
During the opus period of production, lay groundwork for successful distribution. Building an online persona in a particular field is important for each campaign push. If a client has an online presence already established on Facebook, Twitter, their niche message boards, and in relevant niche blogs, then use those accounts to broadcast news of the new piece as an authority.
Distributing amazing content from an unknown account is always a bad idea that results in minimal success. This is largely due to lack of trust or credibility and inability to reach a large audience segment. For those without an authoritative persona, services for hire that post and/or distribute linkbait from authoritative personas exist to help small businesses (for a price.)
Befriending authorities is an effective way to build rapport with industry insiders, as well as to develop a symbiotic link-trade. If contacted directly about valuable material, about half of queried authorities will respond. Symbiotic backlinking is one way to rank higher, as the persona would be tying itself into the fabric of that industry’s presence online. Local media is often overlooked. Journals in the client’s area may have beat journalists to cover the piece: with luck, it could lead to valuable news site links.
3. Social Buzz & Exposure
The third element of linkbait opus is the time to shift attention from the content and its inherent value, to the external market and the perception of the content’s value. This is the time to generate buzz, and to push for attention in every possible social outlet. Though this element could be folded into the second element of distribution, it would be a mistake. Consciously and separately push content so that it reaches its intended audience, and has the opportunity to be ‘liked’ and ‘dugg’ and ‘up-voted’.
As the alchemists famously said, “In my beginning is my end,” and so with linkbait, an initial strike in social media is an accurate preview of how it will do in the end. This is the point where good ‘bait’ leads to good backlinks, and where good buzz leads to front paging on social media outlets like Digg, Reddit, Fark, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
As the fourth element, the client is probably making plans for his Philosopher’s Stone, to wit, the optimized rankings on Yahoo!, Google, and others. The fourth element is often where successful campaigns go sour, because it cannot be controlled, except extrinsically. Online buzz and exposures aids how many backlinks are made.
If YouTube videos were used in linkbait content, a client may see fewer backlinks. Often, people prefer to directly link friends to YouTube, rather than linking the page which is hosting a video. While using YouTube to host videos, include a annotation to bring viewers back to the client’s landing page with a call-to-action.
5. SEO Alchemy
The fifth element in the opus of linkbait alchemy is to attain boosted rankings in search engines, to rank more highly than competitors, and to eventually experience a boost in sales and profits from the increased rankings. This is the SEO-Philosopher’s Stone, or Elixir of Longevity. These increased profits cover the cost of a social media campaign, and also leave enough revenue to feed the ouroboro another chance to generate exposure, increase profitability, and valuable industry authority and backlinks.
Whereas in viral marketing, this online campaign of consistent linkbait would be one facet of a longer and more expensive push, in linkbait, each piece of content is its own end. Much like the ouroboro swallows its tail, linkbait campaigns feed into their own end cycle. With a strong strategy, the social media-driven SEO alchemy could be just around the fold.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.