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Carefully Place Link Bait and Check Trap Occasionally


My wife and I are amateur photographers. Back in 1996, when we first started to expand our organic gardening web site, we found that people loved to download nice pictures to use as desktop wallpaper. When someone with their own web site found our little cache of pictures, they would link to it, so their friends could find them.

I didn’t hear the term link bait until this millennium, but I was setting link traps over 13 years ago. We got a reputation as organic gardening photographers, which led to the higher-demand scenic and nature photographs. When we moved to Hawaii for a year in 1997, we started scanning in our shots from there, and created EcoMaui and EconoMaui, which still get decent traffic to this day.

When I visited Hawaii with my son in 2001, I finally had a digital camera, with a wide-angle lens (crucial for the kind of shots I wanted to take, the kind that make great computer backgrounds), and took enough shots to build an entire site around. Hawaii Stuff was a site born as link bait, and does the bulk of my traffic (and affiliate and ad revenue) to this day.

Eventually, we built up a huge supply of pictures (since taking them is so much easier and more fun than posting them). We have scenic photography from all over the world, and we’ve posted quite a bit of it. So much, in fact, that a few years ago I found a nice platform to post them in, using galleries and a photography blog. Now, that scenic photography gallery for visual arts professionals attracts thousands of people who use our photographs for computer backgrounds, web page backgrounds, presentations, theatrical projections, and graphic arts. It also attracts hundreds of people who link to them.

I check my back-link numbers occasionally, using SEO for Firefox. These days I keep a special eye to the social bookmarking numbers. But I always like to go find a link to my site that someone went through the trouble to work into their site using nice anchor text on a page that’s not diluted with hundreds of other links. When I find one of those, I always try to reward the linker with a link back. Simple courtesy goes a long way on the internet.

No matter what you’re using as link bait (we also have Simpsons sounds, Movie sounds, and lots of other fun content that attracts links), people will always be more willing to link to you if they think you’re going to be nice to them and link back. Lately, I even try to follow the trail about whoever linked to me, and link to another of their sites, as a way to avoid direct reciprocity, or, more simply, trying to avoid any pattern that Google might detect and punish for. Some people call these three-way links, but that’s only if A to B to C to A. Sometimes they (A) link to me (B) and then I follow the trail off A to C and link to C. It’s up to them from there, but at least I avoided sticking them with the straight link-back that some SEOs theorize might not be as good as three way.

The linking, will, however, pretty much handle itself if your bait is tasty enough. No matter what you decide to use, remember, content is still King on the internet. If you’re offering advice, pictures, sounds, news, or just shocking streams of consciousness projected as chronologically posted paragraphs, that’s what people are linking to. Being kind and thoughtful to the people on the other end of the links to you will help, but you have to have something worth linking to if you want to catch the little critters.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/08/2009 2:45 am

    “I too use the scratch pad method for getting the most out of content, especially the political and creative stuff. Helps to have slight differences in each publication, as Google frowns on duplicate content across obvious networks.”

    My reasoning is that I have several pieces I am working on over time. I tend to put the little pieces together on my Blog and then cut a few of them together for more useful pieces to put on community Blogs like ePluribus Media or My Left Nutmeg. Also, being that I am not a Democratic party member, I tend to post some stuff on my own Blog that will never go over to those other places because, especially at this point in time, I am about building coalitions to further our shared causes. Fragmentation of the left is one of the major reasons we have seen the right control the Overton Window for too long.

    And thanks for stopping by my Blog.

    PS: I really don’t drink all that much, regardless of what the humorous tagline may imply. A beer here and there and maybe a few more when I watch a hockey game on Saturday night.

    • 03/08/2009 4:31 pm

      I like it when reasoning one thing, like evolving draft copies over separate blogs will create better honed content for more highly-visited sites when eventually posted there, becomes other good things, like creating triple the content that is different enough to pass the muster on whether it’s duplicate content or not. The first law of good consequences, brought to you by Reason!

      Too bad Mr. Murphy was right, though, about it mostly happening the other way…

  2. 03/07/2009 12:08 am

    Useful information to keep in mind if I were ever to build a site to make money. Something that I cannot see myself ever doing. I recently turned down money from someone for a link to their business site. It was a relatively harmless company but, being that I Blog about politics, it just seemed wrong to even create the impression that I can be be bought on that page. I can see the idea of using quality pics to bring in readers in the hopes that they might glance at the political content as a useful tool. But I really don’t care about traffic at my own place, either. It is really only a scratch pad – and a way of doubling/tripling the link effect – for material that I cross post to community Blogs.

    Anyways, nice read. And certainly some useful tips for some Bloggers.

    • 03/07/2009 11:39 am

      It’s not just for making money. If you want to spread the news about your blog, for whatever your reason, then link bait is a useful tool. In your case, the content is the link bait. I just perused for a little while and enjoyed it all, but especially the sub-title:

      Grab your favorite libation and Drink Liberally with the only Blogger guaranteed to be plastered all over the Internet!

      Very nice. I too use the scratch pad method for getting the most out of content, especially the political and creative stuff. Helps to have slight differences in each publication, as Google frowns on duplicate content across obvious networks.

      I have a friend who wanted a simple, clean blog to prove a point through a rather contentious mental exercise. His blog, Satan Wrote the Bible, gets the vast majority of it’s hits from search. It gets linked to a lot because it’s controversial, I suppose. The controversy of the title alone works as the link bait. So, yeah, many kinds of content can work as bait. I’ve told my Los Angeles catering client she should post recipes (she’s too busy). I’ve told my organic farming client to answer organic gardening questions. I’ve told my Maui Bed and Breakfast client to write about cool places and events on Maui. Your link bait is whatever makes people want to link to you.

      In your case, again, it’s your intelligent writing that has earned that PR5 and all those nice back-links. And now, after browsing your site for a while, it’s a little early to imbibe progressively, but a bloody Mary sounds pretty good!

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