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Linkbait. It's sort of like foie gras and champagne. Even if it's not your favorite meal, chances are most consumers won't turn it down.

But as a website owner, is linkbait the meal you should be preparing every day?

In an interesting post on Copyblogger, Mike Wasylik suggests that the closed network of Facebook is killing SEO. He writes:

But the rise of Facebook creates a growing segment of the web that’s completely invisible to search engines - most of which, Facebook blocks - and can be seen only by logged-in Facebook users. So as Facebook becomes ever larger, and keeps more users inside its walled garden, your web site will need to appear in Facebook’s feeds and searches or you will miss out on an important source of web traffic.

He goes on to suggest that the key to tapping into this traffic source is the linkbait strategy, which entails creating content "that multiple outside sources will link to because it’s funny, controversial, interesting, or otherwise compelling". He concludes by stating that "as Facebook drives an ever-larger percentage of traffic to your site, that means quality content will overshadow all other SEO techniques".

So is this the future of SEO Facebook and linkbait?

First, let's get something out of the way: content is king. Quality content is a must-have. Whether you're selling banner ads or screwdrivers, the quality of your content is going to play a crucial role in acquiring traffic and converting it into revenue.

But don't throw away your SEO just yet. Here's why a linkbait strategy will only get you so far:

  • Not everyone is using Facebook. There are over 200m people on Facebook but that's just a fraction of the total internet population. If your content strategy revolves around Facebook and sites like it you're missing most of the internet.
  • People still search. If you're planning a vacation to the Bahamas, for instance, chances are you're first taking a trip to Google, not Facebook.
  • Good content = prototypical linkbait. Linkbait can consist of great content but great content doesn't necessarily represent linkbait. Example: if you run a travel site about the Bahamas, a highly-informative article probably isn't going to be the type of 'linkbait' that creates an instant flood of traffic from a site like Facebook. But that doesn't mean that, over time, it won't become a key page on your website that generates great SERPs that deliver ROI.
  • All traffic sources are not equal. Good content doesn't just provide a foundation for traffic acquisition; it provides a foundation for making money. It's real easy to write something funny, controversial or informative but if it attracts traffic that doesn't convert, that traffic is as good as worthless. Almost anyone can find a way to generate traffic; far fewer know how to generate the good traffic.

The point is that you can't just linkbait your way to success. Obviously you want people to link to you. But the goal of link building should never be to drive loads of traffic whose value is unknown. When it comes to the role content plays in successful link building, your content strategy has to be more strategic and sustainable than 'linkbait'.

Bottom line: it's not about acquiring links; it's about acquiring the right links. It's not about attracting users on the internet's most popular social networks; it's about attracting the users who need what you offer. It's not about generating traffic; it's about generating traffic that converts.

Photo credit: inuyaki.com via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 June, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2393 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Ponle Holloway, Managing Consultant at Westrow Interactive

You are right that the content of the website must be relevant to the audience. I believe the linkbait must be targeted properly. A strategy that once worked for me was linkbaiting on blogs and forums that had an audience which my product was relevant to.

When I launched my online investment service that catered to a niche market, part of my strategy was to linkbait on blogs and forums my niche market visited. A lot of traffic was generated and conversion was pretty high. When done right, your link may go viral as was in my case.

Summing up all you've said, publishers / promoters of websites must not think of traffic in isolation. The ultimate goal is conversion, unless they're selling eyeballs alone. 

about 7 years ago

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