Friday, January 10, 2014

Linkbait: The Only Future-Proof Link Building Strategy

SEO always comes back to link building, doesn’t it? The only problem with that is the fact that the whole process can start to feel more than a little bit artificial, even dishonest. Indeed, even Google has begun to frown on a number of link building strategies that had been considered above-board for quite a while now.

So what’s the answer? Are there any organic ways of accomplishing what traditional link building set out to do? Thankfully, there’s a possible answer, and it may not be what you expect.

Google Is Changing. So is SEO.

Like it or not, Google accounts for a great deal of the driving force behind SEO strategies. Every significant change in Google’s search algorithm has introduced new features along with new challenges. Take, for example, the company’s latest update, Hummingbird. The biggest changes brought about by the update indicate that the emphasis will be placed on keyword context, rather than density, for the foreseeable future. It’s all about anticipating the intent of the user.

Less-publicized shifts in Google’s SEO philosophies have marketers everywhere wondering where the line is between legitimate link building and so-called “black hat” practices. It’s usually a very gray area.

Linkbait: The Secret Behind Organic Link Building

With social media now firmly entrenched into the very fabric of our society, the marketing world is learning to utilize it in new and exciting ways. In fact, it may be the missing link that helps marketing teams build their backlink profile legitimately and naturally.

Quite simply, linkbait is a piece of content that was designed to entice users to share it on social sites, personal websites and blogs. Chances are good you’ve come across some great examples of linkbait in your travels, but there are a few core principles required in creating perfect linkbait content.

Among these principles are timeliness, usefulness and humor. If a particular person found a piece of content to be inspiring, or it made them laugh, they’re quite likely to share it with their networks.

So How Do You Do It?

You could say there’s a certain artistry involved in creating linkbait. It definitely takes a great deal of skill to intuit what people are likely to share with their friends or readers.

One increasingly popular option is the infographic. Their popularity is surprising, given that learning statistics in school is about as much fun as a root canal. That said, people love reading numbers. To that end, infographics are a great way to provide a wealth of valuable information in a package that’s not only easy to digest but also thoroughly shareable.

Another great option is crowdsourcing. If you’re not familiar with the idea in the context of SEO, it involves fielding questions either to your reader base or to other experts in your field. People are usually very willing to chime in with their own opinion (just look at any post like this one on Lifehacker), providing you not only with traffic, but also free, quality content.

What Else Is There to Know About Linkbait?

Frankly, the list goes on and on. You could post a GIF, a testimonial, an interview, or just go on a rant about something that matters to you. People love a good controversy, after all.

At the end of the day, just try to imagine what sort of content or headline would entice you to click on it. Chances are good that you have a readership that has a great deal in common with you; it’s probably not too difficult to imagine what sort of content they’d be willing to share.

Above all, remember this: sustainable link building needs to be organic. With Google’s ever-shifting opinions on SEO practices, one of the very best ways to ensure that your link-building strategy is future-proof is to embrace social networking and quality linkbait.

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