Link Baiting & Viral Search Success

Dec 6, 2006 - 4:26 pm 5 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2006

This session is moderated by Detlev Johnson who is Director of Consulting for Position Technologies.

Detlev begins by welcoming people to the session which aims to shed some light on what link baiting and online viral marketing is, and more importantly - how it can help you. He introduces Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz who takes the stand.

Rand starts by discussing "Linkbait Portals" which are commonly targeted as a platform for performing online viral marketing. The portals receiving the most traffic include Digg, Fark and Slashdot. The Linkbait audience is driven by very specific passions, on some sites - a few key people decide whether you're mentioned or not. No matter what your marketing, make sure that you do not lose focus on the target audience. The design and feel of a baited page should be attractive although not too promotional. Create a reputation - a strong profile at the social media websites can control what gets published. Use attention grabbing headlines; highlight topics within the bait which might be particularly attractive to the audience. Don't shoot yourself in the foot - spamming Digg from the same IP or geographical area can get you blocked from the portal; the same users "digging" the same material looks suspicious and is tracked by social networks.

Resources for the Dedicated Linkbaiter:

He thinks that the search engines including Google do endorse link baiting as it's about building great content which the internet community will love.

Cameron Olthuis from Advantage Consulting Services is up next. Track your buzz and make sure that it does not get out of control, good buzz could end in bad PR. You can track your "buzz" using tools such as Technorati, Feed Reader and many comment tracking software. Whether the buzz about your company is good or bad, respond to the comments and help the users to understand your point of view or correct any misconceptions. You can also monitor competitor buzz, by using their negative PR to promote why your company is different and better. Use Yahoo Site Explorer to check people linking to your site and finding out what they're talking about. Linkbait is not just for the techie geeks, ringtones for example was plugged on Digg using a "How to create ringtones from MP3 files" viral post. Linkbait should be a continual process and not a one time campaign.

Jennifer Laycock from Search Engine Guide starts a presentation explaining why to use link baiting. The cost of link baiting is getting the perfect idea, not the marketing. Once you get the idea, there's almost no cost to release it into the world. When starting off with brainstorming, ask yourself - What sparks passion in your customers? What hasn't been done before (be original)? How will your idea benefit your users? Ideas spread because the audience think they are important and want others to know about them.

You can give away products for people to test, such as giving free trials/samples to bloggers. Make it easy to spread the word, Hotmail for example added a promotion for the service to the bottom of each email sent by the user. Embrace a successful campaign - Starbucks release a coupon offer which spread more then they expected and then cancelled the coupons, a competitor then turned Starbucks bad PR into good PR for them by accepting the Starbucks coupons in their stores. Be prepared for large growth - that your website can handle all of the traffic and that you can honour every offer that you advertise. There are 2 blogs per second being created, these are the perfect places to get your name out to. Learn from the news, don't repeat the mistakes of other companies.

Quick Tips: - Offer a genuine resource for free - Play off of people's ego's - Consider a "Blog Carnival" - Become a regular commenter on blogs - Offer limited time exclusive offers (such as at

Chris Boggs takes the stand and explains about the company Avenue A Razorfish and gives a shout out to Search Engine Roundtable and also mentions the "link farm" page on Cartoon Barry which lists all the industry websites. Rand is also given credit for his blog post listing the top destinations for Search Marketing information. Mentioning a number of search sites, Chris shows that in the marketing vertical, sites and blogs aren't afraid to share link love. The "My Super Bowl Proposal" viral is a great example of viral marketing - someone in the community reaching out for their help.

Some less successful examples of viral marketing include the Did-It CEO quote that SEO is not worth spending time or money on. He then goes on to show how to check who links to you so that you can find out what people are talking about - good or bad. When Neil Patel from ACS wrote a post on "My 50 Favourite Blogging Resources" he received over 4000 Diggs, it doesn't have to be controversial to be controversial - just interesting. was a website build off the back of a survey which discovered that 50% of men use a razor to shave place other then their face. In 4 weeks they received over 750,000 unique visits and they cancelled the rest of the marketing campaign as it could never match the traffic and buzz already created.

Chris gives some great other viral marketing examples, which can be found at

An excellent Questions and Answers session which turned into a mini baiting "Site Clinic" then followed.

These posts may have spelling and grammar issues. These are session notes, written quickly and posted immediately after the session has been completed. Please excuse any grammar or spelling issues with session posts.


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