Last time, I wrote about the importance of letting people know about the brilliant link bait you created on your site or your blog. The takeaway was: Link Love does not happen automatically, even if you’ve created some pretty amazing content for your target audience.
This week, I want to take a step back and talk about the link bait itself. More often than not, site owners don’t build a brilliant masterpiece that will attract links. Instead, they pin their hopes on a mediocre, brochure-ware site for link bait.
Business Basics Won’t Do It
Just because usability is king and most people are looking for business basics on a Web site, this doesn’t mean content such as your company name, product information, key employees, case studies, testimonials and photos of your facility are a scintillating read or a link magnet. You won’t exactly be knocked over with hordes of people begging to link to your site with this kind of content.
However, such a site is not without hope. There are definitely some places where you can submit a standard business Web site for grabbing a little Link Love. In fact, Justilien Gaspard recently wrote an informative article, Link Safari: Gear Up for a Hunting Expedition, wherein he revealed four great places to look for high quality links. Another good source for search engine directories can be found on Search Engine Watch. However, after exhausting the directory submission angle, you really need to create some interesting and compelling content or you’re pretty much dead in the water.
How to Become Popular
First, let’s think back to what the social scene was like in high school. Can you remember that far back? There were clearly some very popular kids and then some unpopular kids. While the memory of that fact may be chilling to some of you, the good news is that popular kids actually came in many variations.
It wasn't just the football players and cheerleaders who were popular. You had the funny guy, the lead in all the plays, and the student council president, who is probably still emailing you about the next reunion. Every clique had a ringleader. And in your industry, you want your company to be the popular kid. You simply have to carve out your niche and ensure your Web site stands out as unique and special in your crowd.
Keep in mind that when people are spending time online they are typically gathering information or looking to be entertained. So as you consider ideas, think in terms of informing, entertaining, or doing both. Some companies tell me their industry is so boring there is no hope for them to attract links. Nonsense!
Making Boring More Compelling
Even a site offering the most mundane products can create compelling content. To illustrate this point, consider the following.
Q: How do you tell the difference between an extroverted accountant and an introverted accountant? A: An introverted accountant looks down at his shoes. An extroverted accountant looks down at your shoes.
See! Even accountants can be funny. A clever accounting firm could display the accountant joke of the week with archives of all the past accounting firm jokes. It could sponsor a contest for the funniest accountant joke or client story, and that might create a stir.
Maybe your company or industry is too serious to entertain. That’s OK, but you can still be creative in the way you inform. A machine manufacturer could exhibit testimonials and case studies via video instead of print. With permission, they might even be able to go to customer locations to interview the people who actually use their machines or talk to the foreman about quality and productivity improvements while looking over the product in action. Wouldn’t a customer find this 5-10 minute video more compelling than a four page print piece?
These two ideas were off the top of my head. When companies take the time to brainstorm while considering their target audience and market position, great link bait ideas will be born.
In the weeks ahead, we will look at business Web sites that deserve a little Link Love because they genuinely entertain and inform people. If you have created a Web site that does something special or unique, send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.