DaveN Goes White Hat

By Ryan C. Madden

If you listened to Strikepoint the other day, you may have heard Dave say, “Maybe I should just go white hat.” Is it true? Could David Naylor possibly go white-hat? Of course not, but that’s not the point.

The point is that you clicked on this article. Linkbaiting. It works, and if you have a blog or post articles and are not using linkbaiting tactics now, you are missing out on potential readers, and more importantly, on permanent links. This article is about developing creative, engaging link-baiting articles that will provide an increase in deep links to your site, and ultimately, a jump in the SERPS. I’ll even give away one of my own linkbaiting title ideas towards the end of this article.

For some, creating great linkbaiting titles is second nature. It simply comes to them. For the rest of us, it takes a combination of discipline and creativity to provide something truly original. Let’s take a look at how to develop good linkbaiting titles.

Let’s say you sell wool. First, step away from your world of wool. Don’t think about your industry at all. In fact, print this article, step away from your desk, walk outside, and get some fresh air.

Now, get into the heads of your potential readers or clients. Think about their lifestyle. What piques their interest? What do they like to read about online? Write down a list of topics if it helps. Depending on your customer profiles, your topics might include politics, gardening, reality TV shows, Linux, or Hollywood gossip. For your buyers of sheep’s wool, perhaps their interests include the latest fashions, sewing machines, or labor laws. Or if your going after it purely for the linking benefit, you can target about any site that will generate links.

Only after you have developed this list of topics are you ready to step back into your world of wool. Think of different ways you might be able to relate your world to their topics. This is where the discipline comes in. It’s easy to spend 30 seconds on this and give up. That’s what your competitors will do, but not you. Think. Think some more. Harder. Keep working at it until you find it.

Using our example, that could be finding a forum on fashion trends and posting an article entitled, “Ten Sure Signs that Wool is Back”, or “Paris Hilton Sporting a Wool Sweater”. Focusing back on the link-building approach, look at Digg. As many of you know, most Digg users have an IT background. No problem — simply cater to their interests. How about, “Three Easy Steps to Fixing Product Paging Issues using PHP”, and use any example retail site with wool clothing. Of course, include your own links within the article with your desired anchor text.

While we are focusing on titles here, this is not to say that the content of the article is unimportant. Despite the fact that some of today’s popular social networking sites have too many users who Digg vote for articles based solely on the title, the content of the article must be relevant and useful. Too much linkbaiting without providing interesting or useful content will get old with your audience real quick, and the value of your linkbaiting tactics will quickly whither away.

I’ll give away one of my linkbaiting titles that I was going to use for an article I drafted recently. The title is “How to Launch RPGs from Your Cell Phone.” Now, many people (not all) would recognize the term ‘RPGs’ as a rather unpleasant weapon often referred to in the news. The article actually talks about a different kind of Role-Playing Games available on mobile phones. There are certainly better examples out there, and it’s not rocket science, but this stuff is sure to generate some link love from the social networking sites. Now that I’ve given away the title, I’d encourage anyone so inclined to go ahead and use it and let Andy and friends know how it does for you.

Still need more ideas? If you have not listened to Michael Gray as the guest on SEO Rockstars the other day, go download it now. For other great examples, simply browse the titles on Shoemoney’s or Rand’s blogs. Suntdubl also provides some great tips on linkbaiting.

Gleam some useful nuggets of wisdom from these and other experts, as they are sure to get those creative, linkbaiting juices flowing. If we can do it for wool, you can do it for your niche.

[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If you’d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]