So: you’ve come up with some great content that you think has link bait potential. You’ve targeted your keywords to maximize your chances of getting rich anchor text. You’ve submitted it to the usual suspects of the social web – Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious etc. You’ve informed your Twitter followers.
And then what? Do you wait for it to become viral, and hope that that will translate to actual back links? Of course not! Just because you built it does not necessarily mean that they will come – and even if they come, you won’t necessarily get back links. Successful link bait isn’t just about content-creation; you also have to promote the content and adopt strategies that will increase its conversion rate – that is, the actual number of back links it yields. That’s the whole point, after all.
Spending money on advertising link bait is great, but it’s not something everyone can do. The following are 10 cost-free strategies for optimizing your link bait and maximizing the number of back links:
1. Pose a challenge in the title
Ask a question or pose a challenge in the title; it’s not only an effective way to engage your visitors but also to give them a reason to respond and/or share the question (and the link) with their own social network. Remember that the title will accompany the link on Twitter and Facebook, so it’s especially important to make it pop.
2. Link to others
Most textual content that succeeds as link bait actually links to other relevant sources, giving them not only traffic but rich anchor text. Those you link to then link back to you when they tell their own network about your coverage, and/or to thank you.
3. Engage the experts
The internet, and especially social media, has brought us all into the conversation. Gone are the days when you couldn’t expect an influencer in your community to respond to a blog post or e-mail. Most high-profile bloggers and online experts monitor the web for reputation management, and sometimes all it takes to bring them to your blog or earn a mention in their network is to ask an intelligent, on-topic question – as long as it fits into your link bait and doesn’t seem pushy or spammy.
4. Emphasize it to your network
When you’ve just created link bait, it’s okay to use some uncommon methods. Besides posting an update on Twitter/Facebook, you can also send individual messages to people in your network who you think might be especially interested in the content. You can also change your e-mail signature to include a link to it, and tell friends and colleagues offline. In most cases, link bait is not a common occurrence and extra effort is put into it, which justifies the push.
5. Target bloggers
Who better to provide you with back links than people who have their own blogs? If your content already targets bloggers, great! If not, find some influential bloggers in your community, especially those who have blogged about the same topic in the past. This is not only flattering; it’s a legitimate way of continuing the conversation and earning quality back-links.
6. Find the right social community
It’s not enough to submit to the same social networks everyone uses. Most link bait falls into a niche in some way or another (design, comics, information about a particular topic etc) and should be submitted to niche social networking sites. These can be found easily with some Googling.
7. Do a search for intext:yourdomain.com -url:yourdomain.com
Every now and then, someone will mention your web site or link bait page without actually creating a hyperlink. Sometimes they’ll even type out the address, but it won’t be a link, like so: yourdomain.com. It’s worth searching for such mentions (that’s what the advanced operators listed above return) and, unless you have reason to believe that the act was intentional, contacting them to request a quick link to go with the text.
8. Build links for the page
A lot of link bait (unless it’s on an already popular site with thousands of readers) doesn’t succeed immediately. Part of making it popular includes doing some page-specific SEO – that is, building back links yourself, not for your root domain but for the specific page. When you publish your link bait, you can leverage article marketing and (in worthy cases) press releases to build simultaneous back links to the link bait and giving it a better shot at organic search traffic.
9. Make it embeddable
Make it easy for people not just to link to the content (with social media bookmarking icons and such) but also, if possible, to embed it into their own blogs and profiles. This works well for widgets, images and videos.
10. Participate in topical conversations.
When you publish link bait, stay alert for current or subsequent conversations (on blogs, news sites, forums and social media sites) about the subject. A Google alert for your keywords can help you stay on top of these opportunities. This is not about inserting a link to your own page while commenting in a drive-by manner. Participate in the conversation, offer insights and let the quality of your contribution pull people to your own page.
About the Author:
Sandy Franklin has been a technology consultant for over 10 years. She specializes in Big ERP, and has served as an Oracle Consultant and SAP Consultant for a number of multi-national companies.