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Link Baiting and Viral Marketing

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Blogging  /  Linking  /  SEO  /  Tracking

Jennifer LaycockToday I attended an SES NYC 2007 training session taught by Jennifer Laycock, whose Search Engine Guide website is an authority site in the world of organic search. Jennifer is an expert at understanding and analyzing how entire communities have migrated their interactions to the Internet and how to exploit it. Viral link baiting, which focuses on amassing a pool of relevant links to your site from flashy and compelling (sometimes junk) content, can be very useful for the bursts of links it generates. Quality and quantity of inbound links is a crucial measure for Google when determining if a site is popular and deserves to receive top rankings.

Link baiting can be a useful way to generate decent links in large numbers. Viral marketing is different and speaks to a longer term strategy which also generates links but is more prone to result in conversion to a website’s key performance indicators-like sales or information requests. In the continuum of traffic segments, viral marketing to interested communities often results in more engaged traffic which stays on the website longer because of a higher interest level.

First, it’s so good to be here. People who attend SES conferences are beautiful people. They SES Logohave a seasoned and focused look about them. The marketing, advertising, and PR professionals who frequent search marketing conferences seemed measured and deep regardless of each person’s level of accomplishment. It’s so much fun to participate at SES. It’s clear from conferences like this that businesses are learning to adapt and survive the millennial transition of communities reflecting their physical world to online interactions.

People Share Information by Email.

Jennifer quoted a research project which concludes that 25% of people share business or personal financial information by email. 63% share content at least once a week and 25% share content daily. That’s right daily! 5% will not share branded content. Bummer…95% will.

The Session was Kicked off by Debra Mastaler who briefly commented on building links from relevant and authoritative sites to achieve link popularity. Writer of the Search Engine Land column Link and sensibilities, Debra focused on the importance of anchor text and the interconnectedness of SEO. She stressed remembering to do the basics to support your website by garnering links from traditional places like Chambers of Commerce and trade organizations. Don’t forget to get all of the obvious endorsements, do the basic things first. Always remember that links tell search engines that other people value your site. Links are the Internet roadmaps.

Protect yourself from Google.
Jennifer discussed diversifying to insure a website from the mythical Epic future Google Crash “If more than 25% of your site’s traffic is coming from Google you have to insure your business from Google crashing” she explained. “Links are that security. Diversify where your traffic is coming from so that you are not relying on the search engines.” It is clear that regardless of any future search and tag mechanisms, the people seeking information will not change.

Buzz Works
People don’t trust advertisements on the Internet. Yet somehow we’re willing to trust total strangers giving us information about products. By using creativity and choosing the channels carefully viral marketer plants viral seeds to grow and propagate. Unlike traditional paid media placement channels the cost of a viral marketing campaign is mostly in the creative. In fact the primary cost is in the development of the idea and determining where to plant the viral seeds.

Traffic generated by blogger-brand-evangelists and news-seekers is made up of site visitors who tend to be more engaged than segments of traffic generated from other channels like paid search. When I pointed out that “it’s all the same money” Jennifer responded by saying that even if you’re giving away free money (by couponing and such as part of a viral link baiting campaign) advertisers are finding they can get “a lot more bang for their buck then from traditional paid channels because the traffic is highly engaged and spends more time on the site than other segments.” Technorati offers an API call that queries a search string you specify. This can be used to keep you apprised anytime someone has just blogged about you about a topic which matters to you-including yourself or your client. 

i -poop
Jenifer quipped several times that “Steve Jobs could poop in a box and if he slapped an i in front of it (i-poop) people would buy the product in droves. However for the rest of us, not just any idea will do for viral marketing. The SES session on viral link baiting and viral marketing provided insight, tips, techniques, and perspective on creative link building.

Of particular interest are the differences in objectives between the two link-thinks. Link baiting is about the links themselves which are required to demonstrate authority to search engines like Google. Viral marketingis about a longer term approach to driving engaged folks who are candidates to become die-hard fans while your site attains links at the same time. If you ever get a chance to see Jennifer Laycock speak take advantage of it.

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