The Five Elements Of Social Media Alchemy

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.

social media SEO alchemy

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. and 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.

2. Distribution

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.

4.  Backlinking

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.

Link building via social media

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.

Parting Thoughts

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.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social


About The Author: is the Senior SEO Manager for the agency, Red Door Interactive.

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  • DJLitten


    Great article and visual. I am a big proponent that even the most creative content must be put in a larger framework or process for it to be as successful as possible.

    But here’s the thing: content (linkbait), by definition, is tactical. I disagree that it is to be considered “on its own end.” It must be supported by the greater strategy and be relevant to specific audiences in order to elicit a specific action.

    We – myself included – too often negate to discuss this because we assume it goes without saying or because we ignore it.

    I think as an industry, we’re (SEOs, SEMs, etc.) not embraced by the advertising, public relations and marketing communities because they feel we are overtly tactical in nature and do not engage with these departments in the importance of branding and strategy. In fairness, we’re not always invited either.

    However, because of the long lifespan of well-optimized content or linkbait, we could be doing our clients a disservice if the content is brand-agnostic (missed opportunity), or worse, brand-damaging (reducing opportunity). This is often discussed verbatim from friends or clients in larger companies.

    Again, this was a well thought out column. I just felt that this article is an excellent segue into where our industry needs to go.

  • Jordan Kasteler

    Thanks for your comment DJLitten. You’re right about this being tactical and only an element of an overall bigger picture strategy. This isn’t suggested to be an all-in-one strategy. Internet marketers need to know their tactical options when formulating a powerful strategy.

    I disagree with your statement of content that’s brand-agnostic is a disservice. It’s actually quite the opposite. Informational content shouldn’t be brand or ad-driven. That turns off consumers and dampens the chances of viral activity or accruing links. The shell of the content (domain/website template) is the co-branded element that helps drive the brand without having to interfere with the content. So, in short, it works on both levels.

  • DJLitten

    I don’t think we are too off and we may be differing over semantics. What I am not recommending is cheapening content by stamping it with unnecessary verbiage or logos, but one should be aware of a company’s brand voice, style, tone etc. in the event brand equity exists. It must at least be part of the discussion process.

    However, it all depends on the overall goal of such content as well as the proposed reaction of the audience. While it may decrease (slightly) the chances of viral activity, branded content increases the desired action of the target audiences because it is in the voice tailored for them as designated by the strategic marketing plan.

    Which does the client need/want? Surely, traffic on its own is should not be valuable to the client. I also fully understand that the links driven through brand-agnostic campaigns could be beneficial to the site as a whole, but there is missed opportunity to improve brand awareness or at least increase the long-term value of the content to the client.

    Because the overall goal for clients should not be driving people to the site once, but getting them to come back and convert.

    And again, for SEO/SEM/SMM industry to continue to grow, it must reach out to the marketing, advertising and PR departments where they live and breathe.

    I think understanding brand does that, which lends itself to longer-lasting relationships with clients.

    At any rate, thanks for the discussion. See you at BlueGlass FL.


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