There are many ways to build links to your blog or website. You can write articles, trackback, leave comments on other blogs, submit your blog to directories, buy links (if you’re brave), and engage in any of several other tactics to help you achieve this. All of those link building methods require some work on your part. But link baiting is less work. You write a blog post and everyone else does the rest. The problem is, you may not get the links you want or think you deserve. There’s a risk involved.
Chris Brogan recently write a blog post about the 7 types of link bait (though he attempts to give credit to someone else).
Brogan also says you should be subtle with your baiting efforts. That’s true. But even more important than being subtle is knowing when to go after it. If you link bait too often you’ll get the reputation of being a shouter or someone who tries to hard to get attention. If you never do it then you might be forced to go after your own links the hard way. So there should be a fine balance between link baiting and just writing darn good posts.
Here are my suggestions for when you should try your hand at link baiting as part of your long term search engine optimization strategy:
- Some time between your 3rd and 4th month of blogging – Too many bloggers make the mistake of trying to link bait during the start up phase. You should spend your energies during start up just building your reputation and making good posts. Develop a following before you start link baiting. After you’ve built up a solid base of readership and proven yourself with quality content, then you might try going after the links with some hefty bait. But I’d say don’t do it before then.
- When someone you have strong feelings for does something big – Whether we’re talking your hero or someone you outright despise, if they’ve made news in a big way then you might want to hit the airwaves. Not saying you have to. But if this person has a big name in your industry then just mentioning their name is sure to get you some exposure. But don’t name drop just because. If you drop names too often then you’ll appear like some little kid trying to get attention, but do it when it’s big news and you could draw the kind of attention you want. But this one is risky so make sure you are on solid footing before you try it.
- When you want to make a big splash – If you are rolling out a new product or service or making a big change in your business practices and you want to make that a newsworthy event, link bait it. Offer that free triple download and make it loud. Or go for the “I’ll give you one free outing with the master of all media” schtick. If you’re going to make a big splash then make sure it splashes and gets some really influential people really wet.
- When you’ve got a lot of information to share – So you’ve done a lot of research on a topic and you’ve got the resources to back it up. Share them. I’m not talking about 5 links to your favorite ice cream parlors here. I’m talking about some serious link bait. You’ve got a ton of links on a single topic and you know it’s valuable information. Let it rip.
- When you’re feeling surly and want to start an argument – This works best with famous people. You’re ready to tell the world why Matt Cutts is wrong about spam. Go for it. Just make it good.
- You’ve developed a new way of doing things – OK, so you’ve got the no-fail method of spamming Google without getting caught. Tell the world about it. Just make sure you can back up your claims or you’ll end up with link bait that ends up stinking.
There are probably other times when link baiting could be useful for your off site search engine optimization and link building efforts. I thought these might give you an idea or two. Remember, be subtle but also don’t do it too often. Link bait is good when it’s good, but it’s really bad when it’s bad.