I’ve been spending a couple of weeks this summer in the Distilled office looking at the way they do linkbait in order to write up a guide on it.
Whilst researching and reading around what people had posted before, it became clear there were a handful of problems which kept cropping up why people were failing at linkbait. In this post, I hope to address some of the biggest headaches SEOs had.
We’ve Had Very Limited Success
1. No Outreach Plan
Don’t wait until you’ve hit publish to start thinking about outreach. Like a marketing campaign in itself, you wouldn’t build prototypes, injection-moulding systems and have a container load of widgets shipped across from China before you’ve spoken to and got reassurance from your customers well in advance that they’d love to buy it; ideally with pre-orders.
The same applies to linkbait.
You want to reach out to at least some of the linkerati beforehand and get your “guaranteed five links” before you even start your piece of linkbait. The good news is if lots of people are interested from the beginning and think it’s a good concept, other people will probably like it and link to it later on too.
I interviewed some of the London Distilled SEO and PR team on their tips for effective outreach. Here’s a sneak peak:
If you’ve already launched, Wiep Knol has some excellent tips for breathing life back into your linkbait here.
2. Your Concept Sucks
Tough love, but if your concept doesn’t keep your linkerati wide awake at night buzzing about what you’ve just created (or have told them you’re going to create) then your concept needs some improvement. Even in the most boring industries this is possible – harder perhaps, but possible.
Find out the motives for the linkerati being online; is it their job? Their hobby? Something they’re expert in? Perhaps offer to interview them to build up a relationship to post on your website in advance to figure out what they’re really passionate about – this will help with refining a pitch to them, even better when it’s a warm lead.
3. You’re Not Working Hard Enough
It’s simple enough. You haven’t worked hard enough. Now there may be some genuinely good reasons for that – family bereavement, hospitalization or some other horror – but most of the time it’s down the lack of effective work.
You probably need a to hire a link building trainer…
… or get on a diet of productivity tips from the99percent pronto!
It’s probably rooted in the fact that you’re not excited enough. You haven’t got a team around you grinning as you show them the latest update or the graphics back from the designer. You haven’t got a clear purpose why you’re creating a piece of linkbait. It’ll help to identify why your creating this linkbait and what it means to people involved – that can be motivating.
My Linkbait Gets Copied by Competitors
1. You’ve Got Nothing or Little Unique
You don’t have or you’re not using something that’s unique and can’t be copied. Use proprietry data, your own contacts or something else which competitors don’t have and can’t acquire easily. It’s only a really big problem if it’s cannibalizing your links and preventing you from reaching future link targets. If it isn’t though, don’t fret too much – use it as a link prospecting tool though for future.
2. You’re Not Thinking Creatively
Don’t forget, you can still play the “first mover advantage” game if your kind of linkbait can be replicated fairly easily. That includes mashing up different linkbait tactics and hooks; perhaps an infographic linking back to an interactive tool. Try to maintain at least two different assets which are unique to you – that way you’ve got enough of a one-up over your competitors.
We Haven’t Got the Resources
This one sounds plausible, but I still don’t buy it for a second. Bootstrapped linkbait is harder yes, but still possible. You’ve just got to be more choosy in picking tactics and hooks to get links; there are some easy wins on a budget:
If you’ve got a designer, or a designer friend or someone who’s good but not ridiculously expensive.
Designers expect money in exchange for work. That’s the way it works, even if you are on a wafer-thin budget. Look at crowdsourcing designs perhaps via 99designs or looking at the people using Fiverr for cheaper designers, at least to get in touch with them.
2. How-to Tutorials
You can’t always outspend your competition, but you can out-teach them. Think of all the countless books on learning to program, and then Y Combinator startup Codecademy comes along – I can’t wait to see what else they’ve got in store, but it’s a fantastic, interactive how-to tutorial.
Provided you can put together some riveting questions and pitch an interview in a way that doesn’t tie up all their time. Wil Reynold’s Pro Tip: Call them up with Google Voice [US only. Grrr…] during their commute or other “dead time”, record your call and get it transcribed.
A good time to grab top end interviewees is when they’re just about to launch a book. Hat tip to Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com for that one – when you’re in a self-promotional mood, an interview opportunity is hard to turn down.
4. User-generated linkbait
Perhaps you’ve got a small email list, blog or twitter following you could work with to brainstorm and create effective linkbait?
One of my favourite tactics is to sound out a forum, put together a skeleton outline of what the article or guide might look like in Writeboard, then let the community edit it. If you establish yourself in the community first – be human and sincere like you would be face-to-face, not a self-promotional a-hole! – then it can be a incredibly effective way to crowdsource expert content. I’ve even had my spelling mistakes corrected for me 🙂 Make sure to cite your contributors however; always be sincere.
It’s All Overwhelming and Chaotic. I can’t cope with it.
You’ve got no effective process. Try and map out the big picture of what needs to happen where before you start. With that all mapped out (maybe even as a printed chart on the wall), you can work on the very next step. By forcing yourself to jump over little hoops and checkpoints regularly your far more likely to produce effective linkbait.
There’s plenty more tips and ideas like this in the linkbait guide, as well as a chance to get your questions answered in our QA Linkbait Webinar where two Distilled SEO Consultants will be answering your questions.
What’s been your experience creating linkbait? An exhausting path of misery or a thrilling success story?