Did you mean link building? Nah. I didn’t. Around 2005 the term link baiting has become popular to denote a way to
Create irresistible content specifically for the top 1% of Internet users, those who own websites, blogs etc. and are actively linking out to others. The so called linkerati.
Remember that it was almost a decade ago. There was no real social media yet, Facebook existed but there wasn’t even a like button. Twitter didn’t exist yet. People did not use Friendster or MySpace to share links really. So it was about getting bloggers and webmasters to link to you.
Blogs from a decade ago were similar to how we use Facebook now.
You would post short updates with solely an image or a link and express your appreciation. Blogging wasn’t yet about huge lists, essays or other “long-form content”. The original weblogs were run by individuals, mostly young men (the “mommy blog” wave came also later), not yet editorial teams of AOL and other media corporations.
What does link building mean today?
Today most SEO experts say “link building” again but what they mean is actually link baiting or earning links.
Building links manually is both tedious and often frowned upon by Google. Link baiting in contrast is scalable. You can create one piece of content to get numerous links. Another reason why nobody says link baiting is that you simply refer to specific link baiting types, such as widgets or infographics. Wait. Didn’t Google just declare them “unnatural” last year? Oh. So it seems it’s time to revisit the link baiting paradigm.
Personally I never liked the term link bait at all. People are not fish and it also sounds like some sneaky trick.
How to rename link baiting for 2014?
I preferred some lofty terms like flagship content etc. Let’s just agree to use the term link baiting here so that everybody knows I’m also dealing with the historic foundation of modern link earning techniques. Today most quality link building is technically link baiting.
Most manual link building techniques have lost value. Some of them can still be practiced when done right but why bother when you can get many more links by link baiting?
It’s time to get creative again.
Of course link baiting has evolved or rather advanced in the decade since the inception of the term. Also on the way many new terms have sprung up. Some of them are already forgotten. One of the terms that has stayed with us albeit lost some of its appeal, is so called egobaiting.
This one sounds even worse, doesn’t it? Two ugly things, ego and baiting at once! It’s not meant to be derogatory though. It’s quite descriptive indeed. What does egobaiting mean?
Egobaiting has become synonymous with baiting actual people. No people in general but very specific people. In the SEO niche egobaiters would go to great lengths to get a link from Rand Fishkin, one of the most acknowledged industry leaders.
Over the years I have seen a ridiculous amount of work spent on creating content specifically to get Rand Fishkin to link back to some SEO blog or agency.
In some cases it worked in others I didn’t see him neither link nor share the linkbait. One meticulously prepared piece of content depicting him in a new light along some seemingly private data managed to amaze him all right and even was pretty popular at Inbound.org though. This hijacking worked perfectly as well.
So it may work well and a share or link from an a-list influencer like Rand of course also means lots of other secondary links from his large audience that follows him.
What happens when the high profile influencer doesn’t like the egobait though? Maybe the person even practices Zen meditation by now to get rid of the ego? Just kidding. An egobait is very risky indeed. The influencer has to be attracted to it. In case that doesn’t happen most of the effort gets wasted. So of course egobait had to evolve too.
Egobaiting a lot of people alias group interview
Advanced egobaiting is not about one ego but about a lot of egos. A very straightforward approach to such egobaiting is the so called group interview. In the SEO industry it’s perfectly normal by now. Even though I’m not Rand Fishkin I get approached for one at least once a week. So I barely manage to catch up with those. Why are there so many?
These group interviews work like no other link baiting techniques.
I haven’t seen many failed attempts at group interviews. Most of them get hundreds of social shares and plenty of links too. Why? Everybody wants to be associated with other experts. Also everybody in such a group gets a link back to their site and social profiles sometimes too. So it’s a win to win situation.
People who have contributed to the interview get busy sharing the post so that their audiences notice too.
See example above, ranking at #3 for [seo tips] or #5 when I’m logged out. These audiences share as well, because the sheer onslaught of expertise is usually amazing and then the mainstream also notices because suddenly a post gets shared by hundreds of people.
You can propel even new blogs to their 15 minutes of stardom with the group interview technique.
In other industries it’s not common yet at all. I expect it to get widely used in 2014 though. Also it can’t really get penalized by Google. Even in case they choose to discount the links to group interviews the sheer numbers of shares leads to high traffic volumes and popularity. The additional Google SEO effect is a nice to have. You do not depend on it anymore.
There is one huge problem with group interviews. They take really long and a lot of work.
You need to gather contact details from lots of experts and write them all, answer their inquiries etc. I have to ask some questions in most cases when I get approached. So it’s often a one time event with a lot of preparation.
Time, effort and ultimately money have to be invested to get such a post published. Also you can’t just ask anybody to take part. You need to establish at least some kind of superficial relationship with the people first so that they at least know who you are! So how can we overcome this?
Egobaiting automation using personalized infographics
Old school SEOs love automation. Indeed that’s one of the reasons this blog exists. People want to use SEO tools like the ones by Positionly to simplify their daily SEO tasks. Egobaiting has been embraced by average people too. I mean people who wouldn’t refer to themselves as SEOs at all. Thus I’d like to use an example close to home:
How I got successfully egobaited with an automated infographic.
I need to to show it first so that you understand what I am talking about at all. You may know what an infographic is but not how to automate once let alone how to personalize it on the fly.
This is a partial screenshot of my Delicious usage report for 2013. It’s basically an infographic that uses my data on the bookmarks I saved on Delicious last year. The graphs are animated to some extent but to main appeal is the sheer data visualization. So this could also work as an image created on the fly.
Any decent programmer who can use PHP will be able to build one from a database.
So you just need to take the collected data of your users and to show it to them to make them share and link to you. Of course the sharing links on top right do help too. They even contain a prewritten sharing text with your name and numbers added so that you can brag right away.
I did share the Delicious annual report to my 5000+ followers. The Zen meditation hasn’t been really successful at quashing my ego yet. I’m afraid most people are not very advanced at Zen yet so this technique will work for years to come.
Given that Delicious has been deserted by many users after Yahoo seemed to kill it quite a few people have shared their reports IMHO.