Monday, February 12, 2007

What Am I, Link Bait?

Linkbaiting or link baiting is a term for getting your blog noticed. It's not a very new term. Hell, it's not even a new idea ~ it's marketing folks.

I just love it when folks feel the need to make up new terms for the same old things. Sex by any other name...

To illustrate my point, I direct you to Wikipedia where it lists the types of link bait:

* Informational Hooks - Provide information that a reader may find very useful. Some rare tips and tricks or any personal experience through which readers can benefit.
* News Hooks - Provide fresh information and garner citations and links as the news spreads.
* Humor Hooks - Tell a funny story or a joke. A bizarre picture of your subject or mocking cartoons can also prove to be a link bait.
* Evil Hooks - Saying something unpopular or mean may also yield a lot of attention. Writing about something that is not appealing about a product or a popular blogger. Provide strong reasons for it.
* Tool Hooks - Create some sort of tool that is useful enough that people link to it.

Isn't this just common sense? Write something of interest "so that bloggers and social media users are made aware and can help promote the piece in tandem." It's just plain marketing folks. It's a matter of simply creating quality content, which you know The Whore is in favor of.

But, oh how confusing this is for so many.

Last year BizNicheMedia held a linkbait contest wherein folks were to submit their best link bait ideas. Of the 74 ideas, ranging from serious to mockery with the same run of intelligence, BizNicheMedia selected a winner.

In my opinion the best one was from 'Dictionary' who wrote:

My idea:
Make a product worth linking to.
Contact me for payment details.

Because that kids, is some integrity. Don't focus on gimmicks; do something of quality.

But that was not the winner. They selected the guy in the crowd who sent in this gem:

You can't go wrong with boobs.
To paraphrase Howard Stern: "Boobs = links."

Their very selection makes me mistrust them. They went for an obvious traffic getter of sorts, the kind of 'hook' that Wiki didn't expressly list, but completely miss the point of reaching a target market ~ and a product to sell. (I'm rather certain BizNicheMedia doesn't sell breasts.)

Even while they admit their contest itself was linkbait, the winner was a loser. Credibility took a nosedive. Do I have lots of faith in this site, this company? No, I do not. Would I even consider going to them for whatever it is that they do? Nope. (But then, to be fair, after considerable poking about I have no idea what the hell they are doing there. Truly. I am confused.)

Their attempts at linkbaiting give marketing a bad name. (No, I'm not trying to use the 'Evil Hook' here.)

But on to something positive to learn from.

Internet guru Eric Ward also wrote this piece on linkbaiting from an SEO point of view. When it comes to SEO you know I primarily focus on providing content which gives you not just the keywords you want but the target audience too (or at least you should know this after last week's newsletter). But no matter, this is relevant for a few reasons.

While Eric doesn't reference the same contest, it seems rather clear that his points mirror my thoughts. Hype for hype's sake, linkbaiting or link whoring, no matter how much traffic you think it brings you, well, it just isn't all it's made out to be. Especially if you ignore your audience along the way.

Likely Eric and I started thinking about linkbaiting for different reasons. We have different audiences, keywords, and sometimes seemingly very different philosophies. Funny how we end up in the same place though, huh?

Which brings me to the other reason I mentioned Eric and SEO...

It's never wise to ignore the other camp. (It's also never wise to ignore Eric). Sometimes they can point to a worthy trick or two, othertimes you discover you are talking about the same thing afterall.

Here are a few of the other camp locations to read at:

PageTraffic Blog
Search Engine Land

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