Linkbait: Was It Really A Good Idea?

There has been much hype around linkbaiting over the last year, mostly thanks to the rise and rise of social networks like Digg and StumbleUpon. If you haven’t heard about linkbaiting just yet, don’t worry, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Create some quality content like a viral game, top 10 list, news piece, scathing review or interview with a popular blogger etc.
  2. Submit your linkbait to Digg, StumbleUpon, Netscape, Reddit and others.
  3. Ask friends, family, coworkers, Santa to vote it up.
  4. Hope it gets some sort of traction, dodges the moderators and makes it to the popular page.
  5. Watch the links roll in.

This is overly simplified, but you get the idea. Done correctly, a good piece of linkbait can bring in hundreds of quality one way backlinks, a nice boost in the SERPs, a spike in RSS subscribers and, of course, a lot of traffic. Linkbaiting is an extremely cost-effective means of getting links quickly and from websites you would ordinarily never be linked from.

Sounds great, but I’ve gone off linkbait recently and for good reason. Apart from problems at Digg where most linkbait ends up, there is one major problem with linkbaiting; you have absolutely no control on who will link to you. That is a serious flaw when you consider the importance Google places on links from authoritative, highly relevant sites. An article that has gone viral will be linked to from websites as diverse as you can imagine, but you can be pretty sure that most of your links will come from low quality scraper blogs who just regurgitate the Digg RSS feed.

So, is it time to give up on submitting your stories to Digg linkbait and get back to link building 1.0? Andy Hagans thinks it’s a case of going back to basics as well as exploring alternative niche social media sites and I would tend to agree, although I think it still has a place in your overall link building strategy. However, I would not rely on it.

Marketing your site is about who you know more than ever before. Link building in 2007 onwards is all about your IM contact list and networking. Yes, use linkbait where available. But get under the radar and stay there!

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