Quoted by Times Magazine, quoted in The Sunday Times recently, a shameless linkwhore, a self publicist with a sharp wit with an online avatar the Communist Party would be happy with, Lyndon Antcliff (AKA Lyndoman of Cornwall SEO) is one of the best linkbaiters and SM players in the UK (although he’ll probably consider that an insult).
He was an obvious choice when I wanted to pick somebody’s brain about this thing called Linkbait.
Everybody in the search marketing industry knows the value of quality links to your website. Links to your site from other sites boosts traffic, brand awareness and rankings in search engines (especially Google) and while I’m far more comfortable with the idea of blog spamming Ninja Linkbuilding to appropriate links, I’ve been toying recently with linkbait – the art of creating content on your site that other sites will link to – naturally.
An Introduction To LinkBait with Lyndon;
Lyndon. Linkbait. What Is It?
It’s the creation of compelling and seductive content that persuades you perform an action such as linking to it.
When did you discover linkbait?
I think it was one of those things that crept up on me, I am sure I heard it from Nick Wilson first back in 2005, but the concept has obviously been around for years. It just didn’t have a name.
What are the benefits of a good piece of linkbait?
Er, links? Seriously, it’s that simple. Although at times I have been told by a client that links are irrelevant and it’s all about branding, buzz and eyeballs.
What is the process?
My process is headline and idea first, and then structure the content around that whilst keeping in mind the intended audience.
List your 5 favourite traffic driving networks
The rest really don’t matter. And don’t even get me started on the uselessness of Mixx. There others that give a dofollow, but when you are talking traffic, if it’s not a potential 4 figures it’s not worth the energy to submit. .
How do you kick off a bit of linkbait – ie – how do you approach the start of a campaign. The articles done. It’s ready, what next? Is it off to my preferred Social Network or is it an IM to ask friends to submit? Ever submit your own stories to Digg?
I have never actually asked anyone to submit stuff to Digg, but I may change that.
I submit my own stories all the time, I prefer to have that control, on occasions someone has submitted the story and I have to throw my weight at that submission. It may be something to do with letting my clients know it’s me who has done the submission. But I am talking digg here, on other sites the process may be a little difference.
Here’s the thing. Social media marketing is more complicated than you think, in certain ways it’s simple, but you have to adapt tactics to suit the situation and that’s wear instinct is important.
Tell me five things you think about before you post a piece of linkbait? What’s the process and what’s most important?
- Headline: I would say the headline is the most important as if you don’t have this you have nothing. But a good headline can still get people to look at bad content.
- Formatting: This is actually quite important, by formatting I mean the way the thing looks. There are specific looks which certain people associate with something they would like to link to, the aim is to emulate the “look”, which is different to different target groups.
- Images: The web is multimedia, so use it. A great picture can do the work for you, a video even more so. If you can get an image in your linkbait do it, but not everyone has a good eye, check it with friends you know will tell you it’s crap if it is before you press submit.
- Audience: Absolutely crucial, you have to know who the piece is intended for. You have to craft your idea to be able to fit snuggly into the minds of your intended audience.
- Spelling: I work very fast, so I make a lot of spelling mistakes, and I don’t usually bother with grammar. But diggers, for example are nazis for grammar and spelling, so if you want anything dugg, it’s best to triple check.
Is Stumbleupon for eyeballs and Digg for links?
I would say on a whole, yes. But the converse is also true. The thing is, the subject is so broad that anything can happen, it’s best not to be restrictive in your strategy, best to keep it fluid. It’s a moving target and you have to constantly readjust.
What’s key to getting on Digg’s front page?
Getting enough votes. Would be the glib answer, although that’s not entirely true these days, it’s getting the right kind of votes. You need votes from people who have never voted for your stuff before and you need for people not to bury you. For this to happen you cannot emit one whiff you are trying to game the system. You must blend with the natives, learn their lingo, know what they are into. As dirty as it sounds, you have to step into the mindset of your regular digg user, I’m not talking about power users here, I mean the guy who just likes to use digg as a place to find cool stuff.
I could write thousands of words on this subject, but when it comes down to it, you simply have to learn what those non-power diggers want and give it to them.
How do you avoid pissing the networks and users off?
Never get sucked into the comments on digg, it’s just not the place for logical, sane, discourse. Don’t write about how to game Digg and Propellor, both sites have banned my blog, I assume it’s because I help people to the front pages, but maybe it’s just because I use the wrong deoderant.
Like most people I did the multiple account mambo until they all got banned, now I mostly have one account and never cross vote.
Also, you have to remember that people actually use these social bookmarking and networking sites for recreation, not as a way to help market clients. I see it like product placement in movies, as long is it’s in the background and not in your face the natives don’t mind. But as soon as they are brought to attention what you are doing, time to run for the hills.
How often do you spend crafting a piece of linkbait?
For clients, I do one a week, no more than that.
Any ethics in linkbait these days? What will you not do?
I wont linkbait certain topics like porn, booze, and anything illegal. I don’t use the attack hook much, I save my ranting for my IM network.
How important is community collaboration in the social media sites when you are a linkbaiter?
I think you have to keep your powder dry. Linkbaiting is creative, and like creative exploit you are only as good as your last piece and it’s the community that can hold up the mirror to see how you are doing. I’m very cynical, and when someone tells me I am great I think, “what’s this guy want”, but when they say I’m crap I’m like, “interesting, tell me more”. Maybe it’s a British thing, but I definitely think you shouldn’t go believing your own hype and that’s why it’s important to be involved in the community.
Who do you think are the best linkbaiters in the world?
Jason Calacanis, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates etc. I know they are not known primarily as linkbaiters, but it’s people like that we can learn from. The process itself can get you so far, but you need a bit of fairy dust too. Calacanis especially, and it’s not just that he has a big gob, it’s that he says things which connect to people in a way others do not.
I was nearly first to Sphinn your Page Rank post but got distracted(!). In your opinion what’s the best piece of linkbait on your site?
The most successful one was I think my third or fourth post, about can Digg survive all the new Digg clones coming out. After Calacanis linked to me everyone else flocked in, kinda put me on the map. But the other great post was simply a list of all the great posts about linkbait. I don’t think it would work now as the industry is a year older and there are so many social media/linkbait blogs out there that such a list is less worthwhile.
What’s the best piece of linkbait you’ve seen recently and why is it your favourite?
The last good thing was at Dosh Dosh. The reason I like it is because it takes time to establish the arguements and it’s not simply content to throw up on Sphinn. You know the article has taken time, you can disagree with it and still link to it. But to me, great linkbait is what stops me in my tracks and read, and on the web, that is an amazing feat. I didn’t link to it as I hardly link to anything these days, but I stumbled and Sphunn.
Actually whilst we are here, you lot out there. Yes I’m talking to you seo bloggers, stop thinking the best length to have a post is 300-500 words just because Darren Rowse once said. A blog post should be as long as needed for the idea or arguement to be communicated and established.
I hear you like poetry (and here, I thought that was for girls) Got a favourite poet?
- Philip Larkin
- Dorothy Parker
- Spike Milligan
Actually, Lyndon, is poetry for girls? :)
Well what is poetry? When I was at school poetry was about dead white men and flowers and clouds and stuff. But what poetry really is, is the ability to create imagery using the fewest words possible. To burn the words into the brain of the recipient so that they absolutely remember what you said.
To finesse the language into such a powerful, wonderful experience that women swoon and men go off to battle. Nothing girly about that, not that girls are bad, I think girls are a good thing. I hardly think you could describe someone like Rabbie Burns as a girly girl ;)
You’ve got a good point there about Burns ‘an’a'that and I love Spike, so I will cut the girly jokes and confess I like my poetry a bit more epic and melancolic although I am far from an avid reader.
I love my music though and I’m a Stone Roses man and I think even introduced the previously very uncool Sebastian to them recently :) Who’s your favourite Band?
The last band I was nuts about was Idlewilde, on my mp3 player now is the Gossip, Kasabian, Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Johnny Cash etc.
Actually you and I have a similar taste in music. I’ve seen all of those bands live (Idlewild the most recent – they were terrific at the Connect Festival. I’m looking forward to The Enemy next month actually)
Who’s your favourite Linkbaiter?
Why am I not surprised? :) What was the last thing that p*ssed you off?
My server being down and my website down so I don’t get to brag about being quoted in the Sunday Times last weekend. I have to do it here. ;)
Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions for me. You’ll see I’ve refrained where possible from linking to Wikipedia and given the link love to deserving sites, a policy I sort of adopted after reading your views on Wiki. Hope you approve. :)