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Building Links Like A Bartender

by Jon Cooper
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Creativity is such an essential part of link building. Sure, some of you might have it down to an exact science, not needing to change your ways, but for the other 99% of us who want to bring in links by the handful, you have to start thinking outside of the box.

Today’s name of the game: mix and match

Here’s a list of things we’ll be mixing together:

  • Egobait
  • Contrary hook
  • Live blogging
  • How to’s and tutorials
  • Glossary of terms
  • White papers
  • Quizzes/Tests
  • Research papers
  • Timely/Seasonal content
  • Case studies
  • Humor
  • Printable resources
  • Contests
  • Complete guides/resources
  • Stories
  • News
  • Infographics
  • Web tools
  • Interactive content
  • Infoanimations
  • New reviews
  • National days/events
  • Drawings
  • Webinars
  • Games
  • Surveys
  • Microsites
  • Google Maps mashup
  • Curated rankings/scores
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Petitions
  • Lists
  • Debunking myths
  • Data/Research
  • Trollbait (controversy)
  • Interviews

Note: For those who don’t know, this list is from my link building strategies post under the section “Link Attraction”.

Did you get all that? It’s a list of all the link bait strategies that I can think of. They’re all great by themselves, but when you mix & match them with each other, amazing things happen.

Example #1: Seasonal + Data + Infographic

This is one of the more common combinations we see. When any holiday roles around, you usually see a few infographics go live across some of the big news websites & blogs. Most of them have data on that particular holiday, whether it’s how much we’re spending at Christmas time, who’s buzzing about Black Friday on Twitter, or how we’re celebrating the 4th of July this year.

Example #2: News + Humor

If you’re going to pursue the news hook, whether you’re creating it or trying to cover it first, set yourself apart with a little bit of humor. An awesome, recent example of this is when the SEOMoz team used Memes to announce they raised $18 million in funding.

Once you read that press release, then you’ll know how it managed to get links from The Next Web, Forbes, and a few others.

Example #3: Egobait + Interactive content

Appealing to an industry expert’s ego is one of the easiest ways to borrow their authority. Combine that with a Wow factor like interactive content, and you’ve got yourself something that experts will promote to their dying day (well, maybe not that far, but you get the idea).

A really simple version of this is what I did with the pictures on my SEO experts post, but I suggest you take this idea even further.

Here’s an idea. Create a timeline portfolio for some of the biggest names in your industry. Reach out to them and ask if you could do a piece on them; ask for some of their most defining moments in their career and a little description for each. Create a section on your site for these, create one for each expert, and eventually, it could become an industry standard.

Example #4: Quiz/Test + Microsite + Badges + Collaboration

I know “badges” and “collaboration” aren’t in the list at the top, but bear with me.

Try creating your niche’s authority test of knowledge. Make it it’s own separate entity (a microsite), give out badges so participants can display their scores on their blogs, and get industry experts involved to make sure the test is the most accurate depiction of someone’s knowledge in the industry. Sure, you might only get a couple links on the microsite, but if it becomes the next big thing in your niche, those couple of links could pay off big time in authority & trust.

Example #5: Games + Humor + News

This is a stretch, but this combination came to me when I was remembering all of the different online games there were for Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt in the 2006 World Cup. Sure, this example is a little archaic, but if you can find some relevant news you can poke fun at and possibly make a little game out of it, go for it!

Alternative: Video + Humor + News

Had to mention this alternative to example #5 because of this video that Andrew Shotland made:

Example #6: Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to come up with a combination of link bait strategies. I’m not asking you to leave a comment with it, I just want you start thinking about how you can mix & match in your own situation. This is a post that should get you thinking more than anything else, so even though I gave some good examples above, please start brainstorming a few of your own.

More Creative Link Building

I’ve been keeping it a secret, but I think this is a good time to tell everyone about a little giveaway I’m doing only for my email subscribers (who get exclusive posts just like this one via email). I’m now giving away a Creative Link Building Strategies eBook just for joining the newsletter. All I ask is that you wait for one of my emails before even thinking about unsubscribing – at least give it a chance. After that, it’s up to you.

So use that form at the top right of my blog to subscribe, then in my first & only autoresponder email, you’ll get the eBook.

Thanks for reading! Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 119 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper+ is an SEO consultant based out of Gainesville, FL who specializes in link building. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter.

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16 Comments
  1. Sean Smith says:

    Great post man as always, love to be able to come through here and touch up on some fresh link building strategies / ideas.

    Even though I know and I’m sure the majority of people who see this would know, it would be notable to say how you could go about submitting these different link baiting content options. Obviously there are places brand / niche specific to apply them, but also things that are obvious like hacker news, inbound.org, reddit, etc and how you would personally go about submitting them.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Good point Sean. Executing promotion of content like this is the other half the battle, and that’s where those submission sites can come in handy.

  2. Mitchell says:

    Awesome examples here!

    Too add to the mix, you can do Seasonal + Egobait. My very first piece I did was just that:
    http://www.maplenorth.com/2011/10/31/internet-marketing-halloween-heroes/

    While I admit, it’s not the best looking piece, it did drive traffic and social shares.

    You can take that a step further with Seasonal + Egobait + Infographic/Interactive Content. For example, make a piece for the 4th of July that has a list of the different areas of internet marketing (Social, SEO, PPC, CRO, etc). Have those as links on a black page. Every time you click one of the links a firework shoots up and explodes the data of different people within that area of internet marketing that was clicked. You could add their twitter profile, some stats about them, their website, maybe a quote and other valuable information.

    There are so many ideas spinning in my head now!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Awesome example Mitchell! And that’s a great idea – maybe you should try it? :)

      Glad to spark some ideas, that’s what I’m here for.

  3. Jason Nelson says:

    Nice work Jon. I think you have some real interesting and creative tips here. These ideas really lend themselves well to shares, which are so tied to links and I’m starting to think are more important than traditional link building (guest posts, directories, etc.). http://www.ascentinternet.com/blog/seo/why-id-rather-have-social-shares-than-links/.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Good point Jason. Shares vs. Links will definitely be a hot topic in the next 12-18 months. Still, I’d rather have a quality link over a few quality social shares, but I guess that’s because I’m a link builder at heart :)

    • Ehhhhh… “more important than traditional link building”?

      Can’t say I agree with that at all.

  4. Jason Nelson says:

    Links in the social shares count for something :) As for other creative link building ideas, I like yours (and the others in the comments) better as they are more practical and actionable but I did provide some in my last post with the caveat being it’s more applicable to established names – http://www.ascentinternet.com/blog/seo/5-surefire-ways-to-get-an-avalanche-of-penguin-proof-links/

  5. I’ve always bee intergued with mixing news or written content with nostalgia. I did this recently with my paid links post (http://www.seofosho.com/blog/buy-exposure-not-links-paid-link-tactic) and the majority of the feedback was about the MC Hammer image.

    I think when you can add nostalgia to a post as well as Mike King did a few months back with his Mr Men post (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/agency-vs-inhouse-vs-freelance-seo-the-endless-debate-starring-mr-men-12928) , you’re on to a winner!

  6. Chris Hooley says:

    Cool concept for a post. I dig the creativity. I don’t know you yet, but something tells me you’re probably pretty good at SEO :-)

  7. Corey Dubeau says:

    Interesting ideas. How much of your campaign would focus on this type of link building? (I.e. links that point to a blog post or fun piece of content rather than the home page or sales page of a site)

    Does 30 links pointing to ‘domain.com/fun-conten’ really help ‘domain.com/target-keyword’ to rank higher than just simply doing some guest blog articles that will give links to your target page?

    I’m finding that everyone is going the way of making really good content that will attract natural links.. But how much do those links to the good content actually help the other pages on your site that you actually want to rank? Especially when you don’t care about the traffic that’s going to the content (ex. A window company in Palm Beach, Florida could write an awesome guide for DIY window installation.. But the traffic won’t necessarily be people from Palm Beach.. But the guide will still be attracting links.. Do those links really help the other pages that much?)

  8. Gaz copeland says:

    Great stuff as always Jon, thanks for sharing this. I’d love to see some kind of tool which would generate a link bait formula, I’m thinking a one arm bandit where the reels throw up a mix of strategies.

    I guess one of my latest examples would be my “SEO Rappers Delight” piece. Humour + list + ego bait.

    http://stokedseo.co.uk/2012/04/22/seo-rappers-delight/

  9. Woohooo! At last someone has made a list :) Well ok, there are other lists but this is good. Thanks Jon.

  10. Peter says:

    Fantastic stuff Jon – I love this post, it really offers some scope.

    Everything’s easier when it’s modular isn’t it. :)

  11. reeha@inkjet says:

    I really acquired some interesting facts about link building and looking forward to search more information regarding that and write another post on same topic.

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