Link Baiting & Viral Search Success

Aug 9, 2006 - 7:20 pm 12 by

Danny Sullivan was late to this session, tisk, tisk tisk.

Rand Fishkin, possibly the king of link baiting, as Danny introduces him. What is link bait? Web site content that is targeting link friendly audiences. Goals include high levels of traffic, numerous links and visibility/branding. Link bait combines the practices of viral marketing with popular tech trends. Step 1: Researching a sectors link worthiness; what is your market size of your industry? How many of them are active online? Do folks in your industry blog? read forums? newsgroups? What are some recent contents that got this type of attention? Step 2: Discovery of the "big" players in your field? Who are the most well read online sources? USe tags, google searches, technorati and referrals from colleagues. Create a list and identify the format, features and successful tactics each of the sources employ. Step 3: Targeting YDD5 (Yahoo,, slashdot), can your content be tweaked to appeal to those types? Step 4: Targeting offline media also, launching press releases, hiring PR experts, reaching media through online exposure. Step 5: Selecting a content focus; brainstorm 2-3 dozen ideas from people inside your company, think of content that's completely unique and incredibly appealing?, decide based on what you feel would be most effective with your audience and industry. Step 6: Meld branding and viral elements; the piece should carry your brand without forcing it on your users, the best linkbait has elements built in that help with viral spreading including email friends, etc.. Step 7: Targeting keywords/search traffic; search hot keyword sin your sector before creating linkbait. Step 8: Look at examples of brilliant ideas, find the sites who have built amazing applications, tools and content, Digg most popular, yahoo site of the day, technorati, stumbleupon popular tags. Step 9: The value of a web 2.0 look and feel, the right look and feel with earn links others can inhibit link growth from design densitive bloggers social taggers. Step 10: Elements that encourage linking; viral features, link friendliness and social tagging links. Step 11: Pre- launch public relations; email or call relevant friends, consider hiring a PR pitch agent, confirm that everything is working 100% and ensure that your server can support the traffic. Step 12: Managing Launch Traffic; be careful not to respond negatively to criticism of your content in blog comments, you might wish to update your content with additional data or insight and quotes the source, once you've been mentioned at several big sites, be sure to continue to update your site/blog... Step 13: Continuing to get value from Linkbait; you'll often receive man emails and comments, use your new profile to launch new apps... He shows some examples...

Cameron Otthus (spelling) from ACS. Track your buzz because your reputation depends on it. Tools to track: Blog search engines, conversation tracking, message boards. Track the right terms, subscribe to the RSS feeds for those terms (company name, company URL, product names, public faces, etc.) Manage your buzz; what are people saying about you? Is this good or bad? You need to join the conversation because it keeps your buzz going. If the buzz is bad, look to turn the buzz around. He gave an example of about the bottle of aspirin Google sent a guy at Marketing Pilgrim which generated a lot of buzz. You Tube is an other example, the CEO of YouTube had a lot of bad negative buzz about privacy issues. The CEO got up and spoke out that they don't want to be bought. He created a controversy and took the focus off the negative buzz. If the buzz is good, keep the buzz going. ClaimID is a company that helps you manage your personal online reputation company. ClaimID always participates in the conversation. Naymz buzz is ClaimID's closest competitor, but ClaimID, he says, is better. He then shows the Diet Coke Mentos commercial on YouTube, it created a lot of buzz on Mentos. Mentos embrased this, but Coke responded negatively to it. Mentos spike continued to grow based on that. Always want to embrace your buzz. You also have to measure your buzz; backlinks, brand image, trends and new customers, yahoo site explorer, blog search engines, google trends, opinmin and analytics. Most important thing with linkbait is being original.

Jennifer Laycok from Search Engine Guide. She starts off by saying if she pulls off going into labor while giving this presentation will be the ultimate linkbait. Why link baiting and viral marketing? The cost is the idea, not the marketing. Any idea wont do it, you must be something worth talking about. Once you get that idea there is almost no cost to it. It created brand evangelists, gives people a reason to talk about your product, like Mentos. Link baiting is driven by passion, there is a better response that comes with that plus there is a rapid response rate to the bait. There is also a downside to link bait, i.e. the subservient chicken, did it sell chicken? It was not about selling chicken, it was about awareness. And one thing they did get was awareness. They had hundreds of millions of visits, and average time on site was seven minutes! They did make their brand cool and introduced them to a whole new generation. An other downside is that there is also a lack of brand control. Unbridled growth, make sure you can control how quickly it will grow. It is also hard to measure the impact of the campaign. Creating these ideas? ask yourself what sparks passion in your customers? Also, what hasn't been done before? How will the idea benefit your users? Will your audience risk their own reputation on it? Ideas spread because they are important to the spreader and not the originator. A good viral marketing idea is one that builds and works through relationships. Getting started; give away products or services, attract eye balls and talk by offering free things, free offer to select spark talk. Make it easy to spread the world. Scalability; make sure you can handle it. Exploit motivators, people want to be cool, give them a chance (gmail invites). Also use existing networks. Take advantage of others people's resources, use up someone else's web site space. People are talking and linking CGM... Understand the image of a good post and bad post. She talks about her 30 day lactivist project; launch a new business and promote an existing business with no money. She got people talking about it by arousing their desires, people wanted to donate services and products, learn people's names in the industry, and show respect for others. Did it work? 6 months later, the site made $2,500 in profit and $1,000 donated. NYTimes, Denver Post, more than 1,000 incoming links making up 75% of traffic, 36,000+ unique visitors.

Chris Boggs from Avenue A / Razorfish is last up. He plugs SER, SEW, and his company. He then discusses how about marrying SEO and viral marketing, and link baiting is one method. He shows off how communities and blogs within an industry drive some great buzz, he even brought up the page, also SEW forums, SEOMoz's resources section, of course the lactivist, also Cameron's blog, He shows blogrolls, forum rolls, keep the link circle going. He then brings up the Search Engine Roundtable, a post he made on how Gary Price emailed him about a post and how he linked to it and then linked to more. He then brings up the's "Subway pitch" story, and how it generated some bad buzz. Link baiting cannot just put the bait on the hook, you have to throw it out (building), some people say the bait is enough. He believes you need to do link building for effective link baiting. You have to get it out there. How do you measure success of a link baiting campaign? Use a link analysis tool, like the WebBuildPages tool (link?). There is the good and the bad, customer service issue with comcast (comcast guy nap on couch while waiting)., check it out. Gives a Folgers link bait example, Tolerate mornings. Television and Cinema are kings of viral marketing; i.e. Lost (hanso foundation), "A scanner darkly." A terrifying message from Al Gore" youtube video. "The Church of the flying spaghetti monster," too funny, google it.

Great session, Rand no links needed, and Chris - excellent!


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