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Linkbaiting. How hard is it?

Linkbaiting is a big topic for discussion lately. Everyone wants and needs links. We can ask for links, buy links or create articles and submit them for one way links. Linkbaiting is about getting links without doing any of these. Linkbaiting is essentially baiting people in by creating something they want to link to. So, what could we use to bait people into linking to you?

Podcasting:
 
Creating a podcast that discusses news, tips or information on your industry is great baiting tool. Making your podcast unique and consistent is the key to steady stream of new links.
 
Interviews:
These are great. If you could interview someone well known in your industry, that would certainly be worth linking to. For an added boost, do the interview on your podcast and then transcribe it.
Awards:
Awards are another way to bring in traffic, though you can't (or at least shouldn't) simply make up an award. It has to have criteria, high standards and most importantly, meaning. If you give awards to everyone who applies, your award will seem insignificant and unimportant. The upside is you can gain a lot of traffic and one way links from award winners.
Tools and games:
These will always be popular. Create a new tool for your industry that is legitimately helpful or develop a game related to your industry that is either informative or amusing. Firefox or wordpress plugins will bring steady traffic for a long time.
Content:
Content is the easiest of all to create. Articles and blog posts are a great way to go about linkbaiting. You need to use your imagination to make your post compelling. Keeping on top of news and current affairs will help you pick a topic that people are already interested in. There is nothing wrong with piggy backing on some top stories if it relates to what you do.
Video:
This is becoming one of the fastest forms of link baiting, in my opinion. Creating a funny or informative video can create quiet a buzz.
Giveaways and contests:
These are great for a quick boost in traffic. However, these are also short lived. Giveaways need to have an associated monetary value. Contests, unless they are monthly, will die along with the links after the contest is over.
Blogs and forums:
These are usually overlooked as a form of linking baiting, but they are one of the earliest forms of link baiting. Nothing says "link to me" more than a forum or a blog. Proving they have something of interest for the readers.

Guest appearances:
This is one I like to use. I like to exchange writings, interviews or ideas with other bloggers and podcasters. Let me post a post on your blog and you can post on mine for a cross promotion. It's a great way to get a link as well. If you have a podcast, exchange advertisements with other casts along with a link on your podcast page.
Lists: List are very popular.
Why? Well, because they are a list of something of value that people want, all in one place. I have a list of over 200 article submission sites to submit articles to, directories that you can submit your podcast to for free and free directories to get your site listed on. These are always my most often viewed posts.
 
Where to set your bait:
Press releases and social networks are the best places to cast your line. Make an enticing headline and real in some hefty traffic.

If you try once a week to do some form of linkbaiting, by at least writing a topical post or putting together a lengthy list that readers will find useful, you will see a steady increase of traffic and hopefully links.

If you have a website the chances are you receive e-mails from Webmasters asking you to make a link exchange with them. But how do you know whether you should link to their website or not? Well here are 9 rules of thumb, to help guide you through the linking maze.
 
1. Is their site relevant to yours?

This is key, and more and more important these days. If the answer is YES then it's worth thinking about. If it's off topic then you may want to think twice before swapping links. A link from a relevant website to your site is the preferred choice as it can help reinforce your website theme and potentially send some useful traffic your way.

2. How many links is too many on a links page?

When your link is being placed on another website, you ideally want that page to contain as few outbound links as possible. 15 or less outbound links is good, 150 outbound links is not so good. If there are a high number of links on a page [such as 150] then the value of each link out is weakened. Whilst we can only make assumptions about link weight some Webmasters will use a cut off point of 50, 75 or even 100 links on a page as a top end maximum. Anything over 50 outbound links on an average resources page is certainly quite high. However if your link will appear on the page of a good quality site or authority website an exchange can still be worthwhile.

3. What is the Page Rank of the site on Google?

Some webmasters focus a lot on Google's page rank as a measure of a website. If you download and install the Google toolbar you will see a measure of 1 to 10 shown via a horizontal bar for each site you are on. Typically the higher the page rank, the more important a site is perceived to be. A link from a Pr 5 page is often seen as a more powerful link than one from a Pr1 page. However, Google's Page Rank is only meant to be a rough guide and should not be taken too seriously. Tip one should always preside - a relevant link is always what you want.

4. Should the links page be categorized?

Personally I prefer a well organised links page. If your citing a resource in context of an article you would link from the paragraph, but for the purposes of resource links it is a good idea to organise your pages into relevant themes relating to your website and business. If the site containing the link you are being offered is placed on a page with 200 links all mixed up and covering every topic under the sun, then its not ideal. If you're an online shop selling Art Prints should you really be on the same links page as Hosting Companies and Travel Agents? Make the effort to organise your resource pages, even if some link partners don't.

5. Is the links page being read by search engines?

It is important that the page your link is on can be found and read by search engines. The page should be no more than 2-3 clicks away from the homepage. You can even test if the web page is in the Google index by visiting
http://www.google.com and typing into the search bar cache: with the full domain and page name extension after it. So your query in the Google search bar could read: cache:www.mywebsite.com/thelinkspage.html.
The page should then show in the Google index. If it does not then there are a couple of possibilities. 1/ The page is very new and hasn't been crawled yet or 2/ the site has a problem being crawled by search engines due to poor internal linking.

6. What if a Webmaster asks me to link to one site, but links back to me from a different site?

This process is sometimes referred to as '3-way linking' or a 'linking triangle'. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with 3-way linking as it can sometimes be done for convenience. However the first thing you need to do is 1/ Evaluate the site you are linking to and 2/ Evaluate the site and page you are getting the link from. So is the outbound link destination relevant to your site, and is the inbound link you are going to receive also coming from a quality related website?

7. Do I want to associate my business with this particular site?

It is a simple question to answer and this should form part of your decision making process. If you think you have been approached by a good website then the chances are others will feel the same and possibly the search engines too.

8. How do I know if my link partners are still linking to me?

You can do this manually by keeping the information for each link partner in an Excel spreadsheet or similar and then periodically check the exact URLs your link should appear on. However if you get to the stage of having hundreds of link partners this may become rather impractical. At this stage a reciprocal link checker might be advisable.
http://www.linksmanger.com offers a link management system that includes periodic checking of link partners as well as a link exchange system for around $20 a month.

9. So what are the best links?

One answer could be the ones that deliver lots of relevant traffic. However links can mean different things to different people. Natural linking {when people link to you without you asking] is a great reward, but it is also wise to ensure you have some links from quality sites in your industry. Teoma can be a good place to find such sites as it focuses more on human edited results than say Google for example. Simply make a search with a good key phrase on
http://www.teoma.com and you will quickly see which websites are the authority sites. Set about trying to get listed on as many of the best ones as you can.


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