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The crucial steps for creating laser-targeted link bait pieces

At a4u in London I’m talking on a panel called “Beyond Link Bait: Gaining Authoritive Links From Trusted Site“. It’s a great name for the session and something I can take no credit for!

On the panel I’m going to be talking about much-maligned back link analysis, and though the session might sound a little ‘anti-link bait’ I think there’s plenty of reasons why link bait gets a lot coverage. The problem is I think most people don’t realise how to do it right.

The difficulty most people have when they attempt to produce link bait in it’s various forms, is that they tend to concentrate too much on the idea of the piece and attracting attention to it, but often neglect the fundamental of issue of who is going to do the linking.

That’s a mistake I do my best to avoid, and it’s why I use an approach I somewhat over-dramatically call ‘laser-targeted link bait’. This is where content is produced with the intention of building specific links and avoiding the pervasive and pernicious idea that if it garners attention that guarentees that it will get the right links.

But how do you go about producing ‘laser targeted link bait’?

Know your audience before you put pen to paper

Before you write any piece of bait you need to know exactly who you want to see it, and who you want to link to it.  ‘People who have a blog’ is probably too vague, you need to identify a really specific group of people. I’m talking a group like ‘careers advisors at universities in the UK who offer a maths degree course’ or ‘hobby website owners who have a website about their village which they’ve owned since 1998 and built in FrontPage and only update it once a month’

If possible I’d reccomend having the name and email address of the people you are targetting before writing. The more you understand that audience the more effective your piece will be successful and get a link.

Know the tone and style of the websites who you want a link from

On top of knowing the websites which you are hoping for a link from, it can also be very important to try to construct the piece of link bait in a style which compliments them. Researching the websites will help you to understand the language, tone of voice and vocabularly to use. The transition from the website to your page to be as subtle as possible, if the change in writing style is too jarring why would they want to link to your piece?

Know the website’s content gaps

How do you come up with ideas for content? I look at the sites I want links from, find their content gaps, fulfil their needs exactly and then let them know. Do them a favour. If you repeat the content they already have or create something which doesn’t fit with the content of their site it’s going to be a right pain to get them to link.

Know what have they linked to in the past

Different webmasters or bloggers will link out to different types of sites.

Do they only link to websites with lots of pictures?

Or do they only link to household name websites?

Understanding who a website has linked to before will enable you to tailor your content even more effectively and it might make you realise you’re barking up the wrong tree altogether

Consider approaching webmasters and bloggers before you start writing

It may be shifting the standard style of baiting links a little, but consider contacting someone before even writing a word.

Tell them you’re putting the finishing touches to something they might be interested in, and ask if you could get their feedback because you value their opinion. If none of the prospects respond you won’t waste your time writing a page that’ll never see the light of day.

And its a much more gentle approah than ‘I Wrote Something – You Link’

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5 Comments
  • jaamit on September 9, 2009

    Excellent piece. I think this approach can be far more effective then the “lets try and get this hot on digg” because its more likely to succeed, yields links from authorities within your specific niche, and builds relationshionships with those authorities in a way that “7 Plastic Surgeries that Went Horribly Wrong” just cant do…

  • Ed on September 9, 2009

    Good article with a few tips I will use myself. However, the last tip I must disagree with you slightly. While I think contacting webmasters ahead of time is a good approach, simply NOT writing the content because they may not be interested is not such a good idea. Not only do you gain more content on your own website by publishing a copy there, but they may change their mind later or it could attract links from other sites..

  • Kelvin on September 9, 2009

    What use is a piece of link bait that doesn’t get links!

    You are right though Ed , just cause the people aren’t interested doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write content.

    But knowing your hot target isn’t interested means you need to rethink the piece slightly or make sure it’s value to existing visitors justifies the resource to produce it.

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