Sign up for weekly recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.
The Links That Can’t Be Baited
buzz is starting to wear a little. Please don’t get the wrong
idea. I’m very much pro-linkbait. I’m a fan. Guys like
Andy Hagans and
Aaron Wall are geniuses in how they hook
links. But while linkbaiting may be glamorous, what about the links that can’t be baited?
I know it’s fun and exciting to see your shiny new content get on the front
page of Digg. Seeing a video go viral is a thrill. Yes, doing the linkbait thing on behalf of
a client and
having success is a rush. I get it. I’ve even done it
unintentionally. LinkMoses Linking Commandments – Part I was not created to attract links.
was done as a joke to get back at those who made fun of my lengthy tenure in
this profession. But I’ll take the
3,000 new links, thank you very much.
Still, there are links that can’t be baited — or are extremely unlikely to
happen despite your success with the
social media sites
like Digg or StumbleUpon. These unbaitable links are those that won’t appear unless a human with real knowledge of a subject
(and a desire to evaluate and aggregate links) determines your content to be
relevant, worthy, and useful enough that they edit the HTML of their site to
include a link to it.
Examples are not very exciting, but they are at the heart
of the link building challenge. Take the page called
Libraries in South Dakota. Yes, I agree, snooze. But that page earned a
here. It may be the only link the page will ever get, but there it is. Try
baiting that link through Digg. It will never happen. OK, almost certainly never
Links that can’t be baited exist in every possible subject
area, not just for South Dakota libraries. The unsung heroes of the web are the people who
take the time to do sincere content evaluation, selection, and organization with
no real motivation other than to help other web users find those great sites and
pages that might otherwise never be found.
The Scout Report is a great example. It’s been around as long as I have. If you’ve never
heard of it, you just proved my point. Google sure as heck
knows about The Scout Report. I have a hunch that the Google link quality algorithm knows
about it as well. Susan Calcari is a name you should know. She’s gone
but not forgotten.
How about a regional example? See
San Diego’s Monthly Best of The Web. I suppose you could
bait that one if you really wanted to. If your site is related to San Diego. And
travel. And oh yeah, is useful….
Some venues represent that unique combination of being heavily human edited,
huge traffic funnels and also open to linkbait. The classic
Yahoo Picks of The Week. They took
this bait last June. But for every Yahoo Picks of The Week, there’s a
thousand links pages run by people with no search engine affiliation, no SEO
motivation, no idea about linkbait and no knowledge of Digg, much less what’s on
the Digg home page.
Links about grease and lubricants
about the cartoon series The
Links about the long-tongued fruit bat
How about a links page for those of you who are deaf, play basketball, and
live in the Southwest? Bingo. Bait that, pal.
I’m not making fun, just the opposite. I’m zealously passionate about the
link building process. I’ve spent more time at it than any other person in the
world, and I’m proud that I can say it, since few people get to be that focused
and intense. I love the purity of real link building for real content for the
long haul. Every piece of content has its "rightful" links. Links that last.
Not very glamorous, but real.
Such links will come from people with an editorial passion that can’t be
bought or baited. And they’ll often come because you roll up your sleeves and do
the hard work of reaching out to them one-by-one. More time consuming than
linkbait? Sure. Less glamorous. Sure. Important? Absolutely, especially if the
algorithms learn to distinguish between links that were baited and links that
were netted in, one at a time.
Eric Ward has been in the link building
and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from
linking strategy to a
monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers,
The Ward Report. The
Link Week column
appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.