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Blog Optimization: The ethical and unethical ways of Linkbating

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hook your reader so much that they start a blog to talk about you. This might not always be the case, but atleast they can link to you. Linkbaiting (link baiting, linkbait, link bait etc) is a term that has increasingly being used around the blogosphere, and I have already dedicated my previous post to it.

You can see in the following technorati graph the increase in its use. (source)
Posts that contain Link Bait per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart


The quantity and quality of inbound links are two of the many metrics used by a search engine ranking algorithm to rank a website. Linkbaiting is a way to build high quality links which should be relevant to your site. So this would solve any questions of it being good or bad. It is considered to be a white hat optimization method almost universally. Part of successful linkbaiting is devising a mini-PR campaign around the release of a linkbait article so that bloggers and social media users are made aware and can help promote it.

Ethical Linkbaiting

When I was defining hooks in the last post, you would have realized that you can devide them in majorly two categories, the nice and the naughty(I would not call it nasty, as it solves the purpose). Lets talk about the nice here.

Learn about your subject so much that you could easily be termed as expert in your field. Though it wont be easy but if you are successful in doing so, everything you say will be termed as a link bait. Here are some ways which will be helpful to you in doing so.

  1. Build a good content site related to your niche. Write articles- 101 ways to do [insert topic here] and a 10 ways to help you with [insert topic here], 25 myths about [insert topic here]. These have been going on for years and is still effective and easily dugg and bookmarked.

  2. Be innovative. I know that’s not easy as well. People have been innovative enough to invent a button that does nothing all and yet being linked extensively.

  3. Use quizzes and contests- Quizzes, surveys and tests have long been popular and interesting with web users and if you’re smart about the way you design them (giving people a button to place on their site for example) they can be quite viral. People are willing to participate in and you’ll find that some will if you organize some contests. Give a worthwhile prize like a free membership of your site, a free e-book or a free report which normally sells at $25 and above or the course you are about to launch.This will add a competitive element inceasing the participation rate and obviously the incoming links.

  4. Perform surveys and studies that make people feel important. If you can make other people feel important they will help do your marketing for you for free. Salary.com did a study on how underpaid mothers were, and they got many high quality links.

  5. Swap some links- Oops! What did I just say? Swapping links with other blogs will not only increase your visibility but also increase your Technorati rank way up.
  6. Develop some ethical tips and tricks about your niche that are a rare knowledge. Talk about them and be authoritative. This knowledge will come with experience I agree, but experience comes when you start doing it. So start sooner.

  7. With the above point, there goes one more advice. Be a pioneer to say or do something about a common problem, or just anything useful and you would be linked heavily. You can even gain some links from authority sites. Being second, third or fourth will drown the effect.

  8. Be generous while reviewing other blogs. People would not only link happily, but also recommend you.

  9. Tools make a good link bait. Text link ads have set up a good example through their Blog-juice calculator. See, I just linked it. It made authority blogs like Problogger.net link it. They also provide widgets along with it to announce your blog juice to the world and secretly link back to it.;-)

  10. Humor adds interest to anything. Like I talked about in last post, whether it be a cartoon (Hugh does this well - I’ve seen his blog linked to numerous time today alone), a funny photo, a story or even a title that gets a laugh - people enjoy humor and like to pass it on (it’s something we’ve been doing for centuries in the stories/jokes we tell).
  11. Freebies- Apart from giving something valuable through contest prizes, you can even give useful freebies to download through your blog/site. This attracts others to link you and talk about you quite easily. (Do not forget useful here though.)

linkbaiting graphicThe Not so ethical or Unethical Linkbating-

I cannot imagine why do you want to know them. Here are a few link buiding methods that may destroy your brand or get your site banned/penalized/filtered from major search engines, or both.

I will still make a good use of them by providing you, how you can use these by making them ethical.

1. Comment Spamming-
Unethical way- Commenting on blogs just to get a link back. Start marketing your own site hard on your first blog comment. Add no value to the comment section. Mention nothing other than you recently posted on the same subject at _____ and everyone should read it. Carpet bomb dozens of blogs with this message.

Ethical way- Comment on blogs related to your niche and give some good advice on the comment. People will find you and will link you back if you are regular to their blogs and add value to it.

2. Using trackbacks for nothing atall-
Unethical way-Just linking to a blog which uses trackback to gain a link back without saying anything useful at all.

Ethical Way- Same as above, advice bloggers on how they can improve their blog or provide some other useful links related to the subject, and then pinging for trackbacks. They may like to talk about you and some of your reader may write about you as well.

3. Weird headlines-
Unethical way- Saying something just to attract linking for eg. Why Google is a monster and copying and pasting somebody else’s article in it.

Ethical way- Why Google is monster is a good headline, only when you can justify what you are saying. Providing strong reasoning for your statement will not only make it ethical but will make you popular and it will sure be a good linkbait.

4. Sue somebody-
Unethical way- Something like what RIAA did. You can read about it in RIAA Lawsuits Hit 71 Year Old Grandfather, 12 Year Old Girl and then writing about it in your own blog.

Ethical way- No ethical way to do this. You can sure be the first one to break out such a news to the world, if some else does it, through your blog.

5. Letting the cat out of the bag-
Unethical way- Talking about your company secrets, in your posts. This may bring you fame but it will take away your job for sure. Find out how Dooce word got its meaning.

Ethical way- You want me to suggest ethical ways to do that? You can instead read Blogging fame for a common employee.

6. Talk nuisance about somebody famous-
Unethical way- Just doing the above is unethical. It will gain you pretty good links for sure but could land you in hot waters. People despise big mouths which talk without realizing what they are saying.

Ethical way- You can present your own opinion by posting "Why [insert prominent blogger name here] is WRONG about...". You will again have to quite particular of what you say and very cautious. The ethical way here can still not be foolproof.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with link baiting. If you are creating Link Bait for no other reason than to attract links in hopes of also attracting search engine rankings improvement via those links...well, good luck. That’s what EVERYONE is doing. And those types of links wont help you long if at all. But go ahead and try it. While you do, why not also add some really useful content and tools to your site that will help your users accomplish something?

These are only sweet 17 ways of linkbaiting but you can keep coming back for more. I’ll soon be talking about it again in future.

Till Then,
Happy Blogging,
Divya Uttam

Related post:- Blog Optimization-Make your Blog a Linkbait

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posted by Divya Uttam, 11:17 AM

8 Comments:

Wow! No wonder you have not been around for a few days. That is a neat looking hook by the way. I agree with much of what you say about linking just to boost your standing and reduce the time involved in cultivating a blog where people would want to read it.
You should look at content to make sure you want to be affiliated with a blog: if the blog is popular but talks about sex or uses 101 cuss words, then I do not want to be attached even if they have 257 blogs and are easy to link to. I have 2 blogs, as you know, one of which was started as a journal to discuss the creation and development of an idea. Sometimes I deviate a tad, but always come back to the core.

Lex Luthor is a site that was inspired by one of the most popular bloggers in the sphere, and again, I use that blog to also discuss my company, but in a humorous way. And it appears that readers are more interested in humor versus a more serious journal.

Bottom line is when you link up with someone there should be a mutual respect for each others blog; however, in the real world many blogs do not care and that is why they get either the 20 second review or deleted for all time.

And one more thing; as we know, more blogs are being added daily and it seems that the porn industry is coming in with a fury. I wish there was a site just for them so I don't have to see them too. Fortunately in this little haven, so far, there are many really great blogs like this one.
Whew!

commented by Blogger Lex Luthor, 8:38 AM  

Excellent article. We are an SEO company offering quality link building services for our clients. Of course we focus on ethical linkbaiting and are always scouting for some ideas. That's how I came across your post. Good work and much appreciated!

commented by Blogger AutoPilot, 9:32 PM  

Oh no, I only got a 1.5 on the blog juice calculator. Looks like I have work to do. Great article.

commented by Anonymous clickfire, 9:38 PM  

I don't know whether you'd call this ethical or unethical, but I know of one blogger who turned off comments on his blog and announced that if you wanted to post a comment, you'd have to do it on your own blog and post a trackback to his. He's gotten quite a boost in his inbound links from doing that. - Dan.

commented by Anonymous Dan Moran, 8:51 AM  

I will think about these on my next post. It is amazing!

commented by Blogger ilker, 1:19 PM  

Interesting post, I have learned a lot form this....i'll be coming back :) and learning...there is a long way to go :)

Cheers!

N

A Story A Day

commented by Blogger Nothingman, 8:43 AM  

do you think that 'baiting' is a gives the term 'linkbaiting' a bad precedence? it seems that some people think that 'linkbaiting' automatically means a trap of sorts. in the same breath, does google penalize for the term 'linkbait'?

commented by Anonymous s_jenkins, 11:29 PM  

Great article! i will try it now what you write

commented by Anonymous mirc, 4:41 PM  

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