Link Baiting & Viral Success

[Psyched! I made a short mental list of the people I wanted to meet and chat with at SES NY and now that I have just collected my hug from the adorable Jennifer Laycock, I believe my list is complete. At least I can leave New York later today knowing I accomplished something worthwhile while I was here. Huzzah! (Right after I typed that frequent BC commenter Handsome Rob came over and introduced himself. Fun.)]

So up next is the very popular Link Baiting & Viral Success. I’m kind of bummed I didn’t get here early enough to sit in the front row (second row for me) but what’s a girl to do? The room is packed and there are still 15 minutes until start time. Not that I’m surprised with Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz), Jennifer Laycock (Search Engine Guide), Chris Boggs (Avenue A | Razorfish), and Cameron Olthuis (Advantage Consulting Services) speaking. It doesn’t get much better than that lineup.

Up first is Rand Fishkin. Hi, Rand!

Rand’s here to (a) make link baiting look good and (b) explain how to leverage the Web’s most powerful linkers into sending traffic, links and higher rankings to your site.

He explains that link bait is about getting content on the Web that is worthy of being shared. I’m glad he mentioned that because it’s important. Link bait is not about passing useless junk around the Web; it’s about promoting quality content.

Promote your content by targeting it to the linkers of the Web, like the bloggers (holla!) and Web journalists out there. These people make up the "linkerati" and are important because they are the ones who link to you. They mean branding, mindshare and getting the word out about your product.

Link bait helps your site rank by giving it global authority, topical popularity, trust metrics, temporal influence, PageRank, anchor test, and topical relevance. Your page will spread link love to the whole site. If you do this consistently and you have pages that have accumulated a lot of trust, you’re going to rank well. Pages on trusted domains rank very well. Just look at Wikipedia.

Rand highlights a few popular articles from and SEOmoz as examples of successful link bait. (If you’re not reading, head over there today for a laugh. It’s a fun way to spend a Friday afternoon.)

Popular link baiting content strategies are creating lists, tips, teaching, using humor or irony, creating controversy, doing interviews, breaking news, product reviews, poll results, aesthetic beauty, tools, treat insight and comprehensive review.

Once you have your content in mind, look through link bait portals to see what people are interested in and find subjects you can target. Topics should have a high visibility, send large amounts of traffic, target the right demographic and have the potential to go viral.

Search sites like Digg, Reddit,, Del, and StumbleUpon and see what’s doing well and look for common themes. Rand says that on average a post that reaches the front page of Digg will get 1,000 new links in 3 weeks.

Popular blogs to get on are TechCrunch, BoingBoing, Engagdet, Lifehacker, Slashdot, Techmeme, Scobleizer, and The Huffington Post. I’m sure Rand also meant to mention the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog. He just got confused. All the people and all.

Next up is Cameron Olthuis to talk about how viral search affects traditional search. He says it improves rankings and is a powerful reputation management tool.

If you are doing reputation management (which you should be), you should be monitoring all the social media sites, blog search engines and comment trackers. You want to monitor URLs, company names, product names, public faces, keywords, etc. This helps you to keep the good buzz going and allows you to quickly respond to emerging fires.

Next up is my new friend Jennifer Laycock to focus on the viral marketing aspect of things.

Link bait is all about the links. It’s great for a link/rank booster and new site launches. However, viral marketing is about marketing. It’s about building your brand and driving conversions.

One of the reasons to do viral marketing is that the cost is in the idea. There’s no placement cost. A good viral campaign increases brand evangelists and credibility.

When you’re trying to think of an idea for your marketing campaign, ask yourself what sparks passion in your customers? What hasn’t been done before? How will your idea benefit your users? Will your audience risk their own reputation on it? Remember that ideas spread because they’re important to the spreader. A good viral marketing idea is one that builds and works through relationships.

Viral marketing spreads through opinion leaders. To give your campaign legs, determine who the thought leaders most influential in your industry. Where do people go to get information?

In order for your idea to take off it should be easy to spread (send to friend, one click access, integrate the ad), exploit motivators (use the "cool factor"), use existing networks (people are already talking – find out where), and take advantage of other people’s resources.

Jennifer than uses her recent pork troubles as a fun case study for viral marketing and how it was a match made in social media heaven. She explains how she handled it and shares that after everything went down she saw a 400 percent, branding spike, topical blog spike, a sales spike of 700 percent, and a community spike. Way to go, pork!

Next up is Chris Boggs to talk about leveraging the community.

Chris talks about the friendliness of the search community and all the "link love" we pass around. Oh great, now he’s talking about and the community got behind it to get the site ranking for all of its competitive terms. Yeah, yeah, let’s talk about Rand being engaged. That’s fun. .

Okay, I’m done.

Once your campaign is launched you can measure its success by monitoring things like Technorati, your log files, Yahoo Site Explorer, looking for anchor text and locations of new in-links.

Chris talks about a post Neil Patel created called My 50 Favorite Blogging Resources which hit Digg,, Stumbleupon and lots of other great social media sites. Three weeks later, traffic was still coming in and as of yesterday there are over 1000 inbound links to this page.

Chris goes on to give some more famous examples of viral campaigns, including the Shave Everywhere campaign we first heard about at Ad:Tech New York.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing
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One Reply to “Link Baiting & Viral Success”

Aren’t you sweet! Just had to stop by to confirm that yes, Lisa and I are now BFF!

Seriously though, great to finally meet you Lisa. :) One of these days when I’m finally traveling sans kid, we’ll have to hang out some. :)


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