Part 12 Viral Marketing: Linkbating

Part 12 Viral Marketing: Linkbating

The term “Linkbaiting” meets with mixed reaction among internet

marketers. It refers to the practice of “baiting” viewers into linking

back to your site from there site. You write something on your site

that catches the interest of other website owners and bloggers, and

they trackback to your site with comments about what you wrote.


The reason that linkbaiting is sometimes looked down on is that some

marketers use somewhat controversial methods to get those links.

While most of the methods are very legitimate, there are some that

many feel cross the line, and are not appropriate to use.


There are several ways to get other site owners to link back to your

site, many of which I’ve already discussed. The first is to provide

useful information that is new, or a unique view of existing



The second way is to offer fresh, hot information. This is especially

good if you are credited with breaking a story. When it works, this can

generate a lot of traffic very quickly. The downside is, news stories

have a very short life. The viral effect from a hot news story could be

over within a day or two.


The third way is to use humour. People love jokes, cute or funny

stories, and things that make you go, “hmm…” Everyone likes to be

entertained. The trick is to get your message across, while being

entertaining at the same time.


The fourth way to get links is to offer free tools or games

that people can use from your site. Banks and insurance

companies take advantage of this when they offer  financial and loan calculators

on their websites.


While you are using the calculators, you are also being shown a message

about other products and services that are offered. Even if you are

not actively looking at the information, it is still planted in your brain,

and builds brand recognition for the company.


The final method is the more controversial one. It relies on the power

of controversy to get links. The way it works is for the site owner or

blogger to take a contrary position on a popular subject, or to attack a

popular person. Other blogs start to comment on what you said, either

because they can not believe you had the nerve to post it, or they are

coming to the defense of the person who was attacked.


The reason this is seen as somewhat controversial is that often times it

is less than honest. The person making the post may not really feel

that way at all, they only take that position for the passion, and links,

that taking a contrary position it evokes.


The danger of this last method is the damage it could do to your

reputation. If you are seen as a trouble maker or rabble-rouser, many

of your regular viewers may leave your site and begin frequenting

other sites that are a little more in line with their way of thinking.


So why would site owners risk damaging their reputations for links?

The first reason is the immediate flood of traffic it can send to their

site. Even though they may not agree with your opinion, some people

will still check your site out to see if there is anything else



The second reason is that links represent popularity, and some search

engines, most notably Google, use the number of sites that link to

your site when they determine the ranking of each site. When other

sites link to your site, it improves your ranking with Google. This is

especially true with sites that are ranked higher than yours are. The

more sites that link to you, the higher your site climbs.


For some site owners, the traffic generated by getting links outweighs

the negative consequences that might come from a bruised reputation.

For your business, you need to consider whether it is more important

for you to have a quick burst of traffic to your site, or whether you

would rather build a steady stream of regular customers that will

continue to return to your site long into the future.


There are a number of sites that have effectively used gotten other

sites to give them a link. Most notably are The Million Dollar Home

Page, One Red Paper Clip, and All My Life For Sale. All three of these

sites used unique ideas that made other site owners and bloggers

want to write about what they were doing. The resulting surge of

traffic made all three of these efforts overwhelmingly successful (and

yes, the Million Dollar Home Page really did earn a million dollars).