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Motivations for Linkbaiting – Why Links are Good for Your Blog

This post is a continuation in this week’s series on linkbaiting. Previously we’ve talked about ‘what is linkbaiting’ and have asked ‘Is Linkbaiting good or bad?’ and today I’d like us to turn our attention to some of the reasons people do it.

While it’s worth remembering that linkbaiting is a term that describes many different practices there are a number of direct benefits of getting incoming links to your blog or website that come from most (if not all) of them.

Why do people engage in trying to attract links to their blogs? Here’s the two main reasons:

A. Direct and immediate Traffic

The most immediate benefit of an incoming link is the direct traffic that that link can bring you. This initial rush of traffic in turn leads to a variety of other benefits depending upon the blog including:

  • increased earnings (if you have a commercial blog)
  • new subscribers (to RSS feeds and/or newsletters)
  • new loyal readers (others will bookmark you and become regular readers)
  • secondary traffic (often after you get a link from one site you’ll notice a secondary round of links from others who came from the first links and have their own sites. They in turn send traffic and so it goes on)

This initial direct incoming trafffic is also an opportunity to win new loyal readers for your site (we’ll cover how to do this later in the series).

B. Search Engine Juice

A longer term benefit of an incoming link (after the initial ‘rush’ of incoming traffic) is that the links gained will help to grow your search engine ranking (often referred to as Google Juice).

While there are many factors that search engines use to determine how they will rank a web page – one of the most powerful elements is how many links point to it. Search Engines treat incoming links to your site like votes – (I’m over simplifying here) the more votes you get the more they’ll see others as valuing your page.

While there are also many other factors at play (including the ranking of the site linking to you, the words that they use and many more elements (more on SEO here) the number of links you get is a factor also.

Of course the higher your individual pages (and whole blog) rank the more ongoing traffic you’ll have.

Most linkbaiting techniques are particularly good for SEO (search engine optimisation) because the links are non reciprocal (ie they are one way, something else SE’s like) and they are generally incoming links with good anchor text (ie the words used to link to you are usually keywords relevant to your page – we’ll cover how to improve the chances of this in our tips section later).

Traffic vs Search Engine Juice?

As I’ve chatted to a variety of bloggers about linkbaiting over the last few months I’ve been very interested to find that many of them only focus upon one or the other of the above two elements. There are those that are quite obsessive with the initial rush of traffic and focus on their blog’s visitor count or page views while others get caught up in SEO and how many backlinks their site has and how it’s impacting their page rank.

I guess I’d say to both groups two main things:

1. it’s not an either or equation - getting links for your site benefits it in both of the above ways. While there are people who argue that the best traffic is Search Engine traffic and others that argue that the best traffic is referral traffic from other sites (a third group argue that it’s loyal repeat readers) my own opinion is that there are benefits of all kinds of traffic and it’s worth being holistic about this aspect of your blog (read more on the benefits of different types of traffic).

2. obsession can be dangerous - similarly, if you become obsessive with any one kind of traffic (or for that matter if you become obsessed about traffic in general) you run the risk of building a one dimensional blog. I’ve come across many bloggers who obsess about generating incoming links (for whatever reason) to the point where it begins to destroy their blog. They end up forgetting about the readers they currently have and let other elements of their blog slip (like building community, writing quality and deeper content instead of lighter posts that are just about getting link attention).

My Advice to these bloggers is to blog in a balanced and holistic way. By all means think about how you promote yourself and even think strategically about building links – but build a quality blog that actually helps people and a lot of the links will come anyway. Don’t just rely upon the tricks and controversy or you run the risk of becoming a one trick pony and won’t build a model that is sustainable for the long haul.

With that in mind, tomorrow I’m going to turn my attention to link baiting techniques.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I can see where it would be easy to fall into the trap of getting traffic by any means possible. I think that there is a misconception that any traffic is good. Where in actuality, a sharp spike, followed by a drop could be devastating (IMHO).

    I think using linkbaiting to generate “temporary” traffic can cause all sorts of problems. However, providing good content gives a more “slow and steady” effect. I think that in the long run, that results in more subscribers, readers, and if a commercial blog, more revenue.

    The tortoise and the hare analogy may seem trite, but provides a good example. Would one hot or controversial post make you subscribe to a feed and read it every day? Or is it more consistent, quality content that keeps readers?

    I think the balanced and holistic way is great advice. Steady readership with some regular spikes seems like a more viable plan.

  2. Ankit says:

    Great post Darren. You are quiet right a holistic approach is very important while building traffic. Link bait articles/controversies once in a week or two are quiet good, and then one can return back to building quality and deeper content. This approach can bring new readers via link bait and turn them into regular readers by your quality content.

    Search Engine Traffic should be considered as a bonus, in the process of building the blog content, it will happen automatically through the various links aquired by.

  3. jhay says:

    After optimizing your site or blog SEO-wise, linkbaiting comes next. Because it’s more retroactive in a sense. It requires more effort from the blogger to find ways to have other bloggers link in to to his blog.

  4. Brad says:

    A solid stream of QUALIFIED traffic is all that matters. You can have all sorts of links but it’s the quality that counts. Obviously if you are just linkbaiting like crazy your quality is going to be floored and your CTR/sales numbers suffer. Volume is not always good.

    I agree with jhay.

  5. Andrew says:

    Great post, perhaps you could detail a few methods of linkbaiting in a future post?

  6. tharsos says:

    I know that links are also a very good way to increase PR. Afcourse you are right when you say that a blog should not only be focused on links, but also on content, readers etc. Having this in mind I still think that many small blogs are not focusings enough on links.

  7. Traffic is only important to the extent that it leads to conversions of whatever stripe. Links are important, but they are only part of the picture, It’s important to get links that relate to what you are doing, not just various stuff.

  8. I really enjoy link baiting as I have found some wonderful blogs and websites through web searching… including this one. So is link baiting in my opinion is a great thing.

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