Breathing New Life Into Old Linkbait

by Adam Henige

This is a guest post from Adam Henige at Netvantage Marketing.

When I was in middle school I was rocking some pretty tight blue jeans. For most of my later life I got a pretty good laugh when I looked back at what I considered a ridiculous style choice. Fast forward a few years and what came back? Skinny jeans. Granted, everything else that I wore in middle school would still get me laughed at today, but with some updates, that style would still work.

Why would I bring up this old story on a blog about link building and SEO? Because freshening up an old story can work for building links as well. Too often we put significant time and effort into rolling out something that’s hot and current, do a huge blitz, and then leave it to collect dust. Truth be told, if you develop linkbait, you should probably rethink some of your old work and what you can do to keep it fresh and keep building upon it.

A perfect example of this was some linkbait we built three years ago with our neighbors Nicholas Creative. This was well documented in a post I did for SEOmoz titled “Thinking About Evergreen Linkbait & An Accidental Example”, but I’ll give you a quick recap if you don’t feel like reading that whole post.

  1. We came up with an idea to do some quizbait – and thought a shortened version of the Wonderlic test (which NFL players take before the draft) would be both easy to make and have the possibility to go viral. The finished product can be seen here.
  2. While the quiz itself was bait, we offered player card “badges” that compared your score to NFL players past, present and future to increase the linkability(?) of the quiz.
  3. We didn’t even have a client for this, so we just built it for fun and because our social lives aren’t what they used to be.
  4. We promoted the heck out of it leading up to the NFL draft and it flopped initially.
  5. We updated the player cards the following year and tried another round of promotion…and things took off, as we gained thousands of page views and lots of referral traffic.

When I wrote that post, I thought that was the end of the story. It was a successful piece of linkbait whose time had come and gone. The folks at Nicholas Creative had the good sense to add some AdSense advertising to the page as it had continued to get a steady flow of traffic and turned over a couple hundred dollars a month. Due to some overly busy schedules, we did not update the site or do any promotion this year…but it didn’t matter.

As the 2012 NFL draft approached, everything went completely bananas. In the previous two years, we had contacted just about any blogger who had mentioned the NFL combine or anything to do with the Wonderlic test results, but all it really took was one link from the very popular Bleacherreport.com to send things into flat out craziness. While that post couldn’t have been further from my mind, a Facebook post from the Nicholas Creative president clued me into the happenings:


For the month of April, the totals ended up to be over 140,000 visits and more than 2,000,000 page views. AdSense revenue eclipsed $3,000. As a pleasant aside, despite the seeming unrelated nature of the links pointing to this page, Nicholas Creative made the jump to number one for the rather competitive term “michigan web design” without any other substantial link building efforts taking place.

Despite the fact we didn’t update the quiz for 2012, I wonder what would have been had we not updated it in 2011. Initially, the site’s poster child was Peyton Manning, and his image appeared on the quiz’s main page where Cam Newton now resides. While Peyton Manning is still a hot news item, by the time of the draft he was on his way to Denver; I can’t help but think the bloggers that linked to the quiz might have been put off seeing an outdated picture of a player and his old team on the front cover. Newton was the 2011 number one draft pick and rookie of the year so he was still fresh and relevant. Had that been our only update, it still may have been the key element in pushing this thing over the edge.

We owe you Cam.

So therein lies the moral of this story – save yourself some work! Go back and re-evaluate the assets you have and see how you can pitch them again next year to the same audience or a brand new audience. Chances are a mild face lift or a little spin on something you’ve already spent time and money on can find life once again and yield big time results.

Here are some things to think about when re-promoting your linkbait:

  • Has this topic been newsworthy recently? Do some Google News searches on the topic and see what you can find.
  • Who has sent you referral traffic in the past? If bloggers linked to your linkbait two years ago, seek them out and ask them what they’d like to see done to refresh it.
  • Are there new promotional avenues you didn’t use previously. Chances are you didn’t toss your linkbait up on Pinterest in 2009 but you sure can now. If you don’t have anything Pinterest friendly, just add imagery and have at it!

We’ve already established a plan for 2013 for the NFL Wonderlic test, and the ROI on the updates we’re going to put in will hopefully lead to exponential gains in links and dollars. Has anyone else had a similar experience squeezing more mileage out of old linkbait?

This post was written by...

Adam Henige – who has written 1 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Adam Henige+ is Managing Partner at Netvantage Marketing, an online marketing company specializing in SEO, PPC, and social media. Follow him on Twitter @adamhenige.

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  1. Marie Haynes says:

    Wow…what inspiration that article is! I LOVE your quiz. And a quick search for “quiz concept by Nicholas Creative” shows me 452 links. Not bad!

    Now you’ve got me thinking. I have a bunch of “failed” linkbait attempts that I could have another go at now. 🙂

  2. Great post, I’m starting to see my social life diminish as well, guessIi should start following baseball. Thanks for the motivation to stick with it.

  3. seo services says:

    Great post,
    Thanks for the motivation to stick with it.

  4. What an awesome story to share. This would be ideal for clients that you are running long term marketing plans with. Developing something with the mindset that you will again re-use the idea next year or next month is definitely something that I will keep in mind. It would be pretty cool do something with the Olympics that are coming up..

  5. Adam Henige says:

    Adelaide, I completely agree. If you have a client that really gets on board as far as helping develop content you could do all sorts of fun things – industry blogger awards or tie ins with other popular events like the Emmy’s or something along those lines.

  6. Tom Andrews says:

    I would certainly say the best link bait is content that is created naturally as opposed to for the purpose of attracting links, however as example above shows, if good and worked once and can be updated, go with what have got already.

    Also depends on topic, Soccer which is huge in the UK would attract lot’s of interest using something similar.

    See site linked from this comment for some good natural examples of link bait.

  7. Riyas says:

    Great post Adam.
    Is the link pointed to “Thinking About Evergreen Linkbait & An Accidental Example” is from your local disc?

  8. Soma Generic says:

    Hey Adam Henige, This is really a fascinating blog, lots of stuff that I can get into. One thing I just want to say is that your Blog is so perfect.

Breathing New Life Into Old Linkbait - Point Blank SEO