Linkbait, Reports of My Death Are Greatly Exagerated

Recently I’ve come across an increasing number of ‘link bait is dying’, ‘link bait is dead’, and ‘linkbait is so 2006’ blog posts. To those people I say, please remove your head from ass quickly, because you look ridiculous.

As proof of what I’m saying look at the magazine cover to the right. Not the girl the article titles.

How to Have All the Dates You Can Handle

Are Your Savings Shrinking? Smart Advice About Money.

Are You a Sexual Sleeping Beauty?

I don’t think you’d do a double take if you saw those titles on Digg, Delicious, Netscape or Reddit tommorow morning. Would it surprise you to learn that that magazine is from 1991 making it over 15 years old?

Need more proof take a gander at this edition of Readers Digest. To save you the trouble of squinting I’ll point out some of my favortites:

41 Ways to beat the High Cost of Living

How to Murder Your Husband

What the Moon really Reveals

In case you missed the date thats from August 1970, that’s over 35 years ago. Yep that’s right the exact same thing that some of you whiny bloggers are complaining about today has been going on in the print world for hundreds and thousands of years.

. Want to take a guess why … because it works.

Here’s the the thing lots of people don’t understand what real link bait is. Some people get all hung up on the word ‘bait’, saying it has some negative connotation of being a trap. Please get over it. The second group think it’s all about the catchy title. The catchy title is important it’s the hook, but it’s also a contract between you and the reader. It’s an agreement of what you’re going to provide if the person on the other end follows through and reads.

Believing link bait is a passing fad is like believeing good compelling content is somehow going to go out of style. Really people you should have been developing that type of content before it just was never solidified behind a quick and easy sound bite phrase like ‘link bait’. What has changed is link bait is more focused and effiecient. For example lets look at this illustration:

Traditionally most people only targeted the general users when developing their content. However link baiting is more concerened with targeting people who use social bookmarking sites like digg, delicious, netscape, reddit, and so on to vote/promote/bookmark their sites. All this voting puts the stories in front of the linkerati the one’s who run websites/blogs (some more powerful and influential than others) and can and do give links freely. So link bait isn’t exactly the same as it always was, it just become more focused on a subset of the online population.

Is link bait always going to stay the same, nope. In fact I fully expect things like personalized search to cause another shift in focus as we get a better understanding of how it’s being used in personalized SERP’s.

You’ve got a choice sit around and hope things go back to the way they were in 1999 and there was no MSSA penalty, you can start to learn how to do link bait, or get someone on your staff who does, because link bait just like great content is here to stay.

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