Matt Cutts on Linkbait

May 14  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark
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Lane Bryant Banned Commercial = My Favorite Viral Marketing

April 25  |  Viral Marketing  |   Ryan Clark

Sex sells, and I’m quite fine with that. Lane Bryant seems to know its niche well, and when you’re in the lingerie business, it’s not hard to sell sexy. Combine that with a racy commercial that gets banned and a 40% discount, and you got yourself a viral marketing hit. This commercial wasn’t allowed on the air by Fox or ABC, but Youtube has it currently at 1.7 million views and counting. This is another clear cut example of how regular television just isn’t effective, and surely fears this style of marketing. This commercial will most likely see another million views and will have surely paid off itself a few times over.

This is proof in action that content is king, and if you’re in the position to create content like this for your brand don’t hesitate. You can only imagine the type of links they’re receive from this campaign. CNN, blogs, news sites, social networks and video sites galore have all got it mentioned which has resulted in a next level boost in targeted traffic. I thought this campaign was a great example of viral marketing that was still somewhat fresh and in the mix.

I have no clue why they were banned but I don’t think I would have cared all that much if I were doing their marketing. They’re actively engaging the situation via all social media channels, and I commend their efforts! You can see from a nifty little web tool called Twitterholic that within a year they’ve managed to leverage a nice targeted social media following. I hope you folks take this example in deep, because it is a perfect example of getting brand awareness and maximum link acquisition in one go.

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Targeted Linkbait Ideas To Ponder

May 28  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

Linkbait is still all the rage and has always been around, just not necessarily under its branded term. There have been dozens of mind blowing linkbait articles from all the top link builders and I’ve found them to be some of the best reads this year. I’ll make sure to list the ones that have helped me out greatly at the end of this article.

I wanted to get on board and give back to the community with a few ideas I’ve put into action. These ideas hopefully make sense and I would really appreciate your feedback because it helps me learn as well. I’ve taken a few different steps to writing and marketing my linkbait for clients and myself, getting the links sometimes isn’t always easy. We’ll take a look at a few very targeted methods that will attract links from specific websites such as .edu and .gov, as well from sites within your niche.

I’ve stayed far away from taking a stab at a competitor or big fish even though the controversy can result in a lot of links. I believe that it could end up damaging your reputation, and that’s not something I’d risk for a client. I’ve had a lot of success with the humor side of linkbaiting and it can be a lot of fun to do. I’ve lately been really trying to target the types of websites I’d be getting links from with or without contacting them, and it can be tricky! Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about.

Targeting .edu/.gov Sites With Linkbait:

I won’t get into debating whether or not a .edu/.gov link holds more value that any other site. I personally don’t think it does in general, it just happens to be that a lot of the .edu/.gov sites have just naturally built up trust over time. 99% of the methods used to get links from these sites is down right not ethical, but don’t worry I’m not judging :) However, specially crafted linkbait can attract links from these sites.

The task of attracting links from .edu/.gov sites will not be an easy one, and be prepared to make several attempts at it before having it work. You could also be setting yourself up for as massive fail, but it’ll be worth it if your content is good. With that being said, you’ll also have to have the right type of site and content to make it seem like they should be linking to you.

In my experience I’ve tried to go about it two different ways and have managed to rack up some success. I really think these ideas could be pushed further and really do someone serious link loving from some very juicy sites.

Target An Individual .Edu: If your business or website content revolves around a certain location you might want to target your local university. This could be done in a variety of ways, and I’ll drop some ideas below. Getting webmasters and students to find your content let alone link to it is hard to do, but you won’t know until you try. Here are some ideas you could tackle to get links from a single .edu or .gov.

-10 places to study in peace at $insertuniversityhere

-20 money savings tips around/on campus at $insertuniversityhere

-10 famous people to graduate from $insertuniversityhere

So these topics may or may not be the best, but they should hopefully inspire you to come up with your own ideas. Now attracting the links is the tough part so you’ll want to sit down and put some effort into it. Start by finding email addresses of the webmasters of that .edu and fire them off a nice and personal email. Another option is to look for forums or blogs run by the students and get involved, finding out their email addresses or by finding contact forms. If your content is good enough your chances of attracting one link is of course greatly improved.If you’re even more lucky, that one link will go a little viral and spread around campus blogs and resource pages.

These same techniques can be applied to target the education industry and government websites. If you take a good look at a few .gov sites you’ll notice a huge ton of them have resource pages. These should give you an idea of what type of content/sites they’re linking to, and ideas on how to create something worthy of a link. You’ll have to rely on savvy social engineering via email or phone to ask if your content could be considered as a resource. I’ve done this a lot and I usually see a 10-15% success rate in getting an actual link.

Targeting Authority Sites Within Your Niche:

This is another method that will either work great or not so great depending on the niche you’re in. For this method I’ll need you to make a list of 10-30 of the most authoritative sites within your niche, or even closely related sites. Next I’ll need you to think of some killer content ideas, I generally go with creating a *huge* resource list.

Let’s say you’re doing a resource list. To start I recommend just making a skeleton or point form note list of what this resource list will include. I also want you to take down notes about each of those other sites and note their strong points. Before getting deep into writing mode it is now time to email those webmasters and let them know about the resource list you’re putting together. Let them know you want to include something they’ve got into the list, even flatter them a bit and say how much it has helped you out.

This can be a slower process, and I’d give it a week or two to wait and see who contacts you back. Engage everyone who does email you back and try and get them interested in providing a link once it’s complete. You could even ask them to contribute something new which would give them a feeling of community. I strongly believe this greatly improves your chance of getting a link from that webmaster. Once you’ve finished all your contacting you’ll need to sit down and write out the wicked content and get it ready for distribution. Once it’s live you can now let those other site owners know and be on your way to snagging some quick links, and over time newer sites might link to your resource.

Do Your Own Videos? Make your Own Embed Code:

An amazing video is a great way to attract traffic and links, but most people lose out on the link part. This is a form of linkbait that isn’t easy to do either, but if you have the video skills then listen up. I’ve seen tons of small business commercials on Youtube kill it because they produced a really ingenious or funny viral video. Now they surely got exposure, but over time everyone who’s going to see the video has and the traffic starts to trickle in. Why not get a ton of links naturally as well?

Now what if you were to create your own embed code and host the video yourself? This could be a costly option, but if you’re only doing a few videos a year you should be good. You’re not always going to have a video go viral as well so you have to factor that in as well. The bandwidth cost could easily be worth the business you drum up thanks to the links you’ve gained naturally by having your hosted videos own embed code. I talked about how Vimeo switched up their embedded videos to have dofollow links incorporated which you can read here: Vimeo’s Link Building Strategy.

Creating A *Killer* CMS Theme:

Ok now I know what you’re thinking….not another sponsor a WordPress theme blurb. Well it is not quite that bad and I’ve only ever tried this for myself once with positive results. This is another aspect of the article I really want your feedback on so pipe up.

There are a few very popular CMS’s out there like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Elgg etc etc. They all have theme sites where you can submit themes to, and let’s face it, most of the themes are re-hacked and submitted with links to crappy sites. Google has been known to devalue these types of links pretty quickly

So what am I talking about? Well I’m talking about having a programmer design a theme that is absolutely amazing. This is clearly going to cost you but for me was well worth it in the end. If you take WordPress for example, there are themes that were release free and were of premium quality. These themes went above and beyond the re-hacked theme and truly earned their place on the web. This will without a doubt attract hundreds to thousands of links over a 6-12 month period…sometimes even quicker.

Now this method is also not for everyone. I had done some sales and link building on the side for my friends web design business. This is the type of site that will really see the link love a flowing as well bring in a lot of clients. I won’t name the theme here but I’m sure some of you have even used it once or twice.

Must Read Linkbait Articles:

10 linkbait strategies to build links and drive traffic – Econsultancy
The Psychology of a Linkbait – Ryan Caldwell
How To Actually Get Links From Your Linkbait – Tom @ SEOmoz
5 Effective Linkbait And Link Generation Strategies – Adam Singer
6 Real Linkbait Examples and the Lessons Learned – Part 1 – Dave Pye
Search Illustrated: Types Of Link Bait – Search Engine Land
Prepping Your Viral Linkbait for Success – Vince @ Primary Affect
How To Linkbait E-commerce Stores: 15 Tips For Success! – Andy Boyd
Behind LinkBait: Word Play and Creative Semantic Constructions in Hot Titles – Ann Smarty

I hope this post made some sense and has sparked the minds of all you folks out there. I wrote this article really late after working for 12 hours so it may be a little wonky. I’d love to hear feedback in the comments and I’m open to constructive criticism! If you’re interested in having my team handle your next campaign check out my linkbait services.

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Which Link Building Techniques Will Google Penalize Next?[Poll]

December 22  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about certain link building methods that will eventually end up getting drowned out like directory links and paid links in blog posts. Since I’ve been writing this blog and link building full time my eyes have been opened wide to the amount of places to build links, and even the amount of new places opening up. Obviously the easiest methods will be the ones to get abused the most, and I’m starting to wonder what’s next in line for a good old fashioned Google smacking? I’m hoping to get enough votes from you folks to determine what you think it will be, and get an insight to what you’re seeing getting spammed the most lately. I’ll write my explanation out below for reasons why I have them on the list, and if you think I missed an important technique on here let me know!

[polldaddy poll=1220147]

Do Follow Blog Commenting: I know that do follow blog comment is a two way street and can either be beneficial or get you in the dog house. I’ve put this option on the list because these days I’m seeing a ratio of 90% spam comments/anchor’s and about 10% in real and quality comments. Since the commenting process can also be an automated one, we’ve all seen auto commenting scripts in the wild doing a nasty job. I can easily see sites getting into “bad neighborhoods” because of excess amounts of spam comments on their site, which would lead to a penalty for the spamming site.

Submitting .pad Software: Well this is still a great method for building solid links on very authoritative software sites, I’m starting to see the spammers making use of this technique for unethical reasons. It has gotten to the point that I’m seeing people selling Ebooks with this as the prime “secret” they teach amateur online marketers to gain top ranking spots. I imagine in the near future these software download sites will start getting looked at just like the directory industry has, and if you take a look there are a lot of low quality software download sites with this type of spam all over them.

Forum Signatures: This link building method had me wondering if I should even mention it, but like I stated before about methods that are easily automated will generally come under the ban hammer, this is one of them. Now I am not against getting links via signatures if you’re active on a niche related forum, and there not just to spam your siggy. But I’m not seeing companies who offer forum signature links and spamming by the thousands, and this is setting off a flag in my mind. It has me wondering if Google might eventually come up with some sort of quality checking.

Social Bookmarking: Social bookmarking is a great method for not only building links but getting targeted traffic as well. There is already a strong spam presence on almost every
bookmarking site out there, and with the sheer number of them popping up is going to dilute the amount of link juice you would have once got. I can easily see the same thing that happened to the directory industry to social bookmarking if it isn’t already happening.

Linkbaiting: Linkbaiting is by far the hottest link building method to come out recently and its great for getting links, but most importantly links from related sites. I like this method because it forces you to first create great content to earn those links, so there is little room for evil….keyword here being little. I’ve seen a good number of ‘out of context’ articles with linkbait titles and sometimes just downright misleading information. Because this information can be seen by a large volume of readers this can pose a serious risk to influencing people for good or bad.

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