Archives for January 2006

SEO Advice: linkbait and linkbaiting

(just a quick post.)

On a meta-level, I think of “linkbait” as something interesting enough to catch people’s attention, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are a lot of ways to do that, including putting in sweat-of-the-brow work to generate data or insights, or it can be as simple as being creative. You can also say something controversial to generate discussion (this last one gets tired if you overuse it, though). Sometimes even a little bit of work can generate a reason for people to link to you.

Example 1: Danny Sullivan actually sat down and checked the spam filtering accuracy of SpamCop, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail. And not once or twice, but three different times. Personally, counting false positives in your Spam folder would annoy me to death, but putting in that work generates insights on the differences between the competing services. Admittedly, the results will vary by individual, but as the great Fred Brooks would remark, often some data is better than no data at all. Now Danny doesn’t need any more links than he already has, but it’s producing info-laden content that makes a site or blog well-known over time.

Example 2: You can be creative. I’m happy to link to Marc Hil Macalua for a creative app that he wrote in which you can vote on head-to-head battles between SEOs. The Ning service attempts to make it easy for people to write social web apps, so this is a really easy app to create: just drop in your own photos and you’re good to go. Now did Marc do a ton of work? Well, a little bit, but not a ton. But he had that creative insight of something that would grab people’s attention and generate discussion. By the way, it looks like someone is click-spamming on DaveN’s behalf. 😉

Example 3: Saying something controversial. You can be cheeky, like Threadwatch, or you can be incredibly earnest. I give the creator of Google Watch credit for staking out the “anti-Google” territory way before anyone else. Later, Andrew Orlowski probably realized that taking potshots at Google or blogs was a way to generate lots of discussion. By the time it trickles down to sites like FuckedGoogle or whatever, it gets to be “done”–that niche is starting to be tapped out. So how do you take a new approach?

Example 4: Back to something creative: the Google: Evil or Not? site. The site takes RSS feeds that mention Google, lets people vote between Real Good or Real Evil, and adds a graph. It took a little bit of work, but probably not a ton. How much work would it be to extend that to another subject, like graphing the mojo levels at the Yahooplex as it waxes or wanes?

Linkbaiting sounds like a bad thing, but especially if it’s interesting information or fun, it doesn’t have to have negative connotations. I hereby claim that content can be both white-hat and yet still be wonderful “bait” for links (e.g. Danny’s spam email analysis). And generating information or ideas that people talk about is a surefire way to generate links. Personally, I’d lean toward producing interesting data or having a creative idea rather than spouting really controversial ideas 100% of the time. If everything you ever say is controversial, it can be entertaining, but it’s harder to maintain credibility over the long haul.

Google News leaving Beta!

Woohoo! Since the initial launch, Google News has added support for many different languages and countries, added customization to create specific sections just for you, supported sign-on with a Google Account so that you can get you customized news anywhere you want, improved the scoring to find more relevant news sources, and added support for RSS/Atom feeds. With the launch of recommended and “most popular” news stories, Google News is leaving beta. That’s one beta down, only 237-ish to go! 😉

Yahoo Answers to monetize

It was clear from Tim Mayer’s comments that Yahoo always intended its Answers product to have a revenue component. Now comes word from JenSense that people will be able to use their YPN ID to collect money for answering money. Looks like Yahoo allows other engines to crawl the resulting content, in the same way that Google allows other engines to crawl its Answers content. Kudos to Yahoo; I think that’s a smart move. So if you have a burning desire to answer questions about lemurs on Yahoo, hop to it! 🙂

SEO Advice: Spell-check your web site

Here’s some quick advice. If you’re going to ask people to give you money, spell-check your site. For example, here’s a banner from an SEO site I heard about:

Banner with typo

It should be spelled “guarantee,” not “garuntee.” By the way, I can hear the Kentuckian jokes now, and you can just stop. 🙂 Worst-case, ask a friend to look over your site for typos just like you would with a resume. If your objective is to get someone to give you money, the effort is definitely worth it.

If you have a UNIX webhost, there are a variety of programs that can spell-check your docs, including spell or ispell. If you search for [spell check web page], you can also find sites that offer spell-checking of live web pages. I found and tried this service in five minutes and it worked fine. You get a useful service for free, and they offer the option to upgrade to a paid package. Offering a useful service to visitors is a great way to attract repeat visitors and links. There’s often a lot of room for improving on existing services, too. For example, the free tool I found flagged a lot of words like Abondance, Harmonix, JavaScript, etc. It would be an easy improvement over that free tool if you added an option to ignore words that were capitalized, for example. There’s also the spell-check on webforms that the Google Toolbar offers, and there are numerous plugins for stuff like WordPress that do spell checking.

John Walker has an interesting method of dealing with typos: one strike and you’re out. Essentially, you stop reading a message after the first misspelling you hit. On a quick sample of Slashdot discussion, he found that

a total of 34 words were read before the respective messages struck out, from a total of 444 words in the original postings (not counting headers or identification information). Striking out the messages thus eliminated more than 90% of the text you’d otherwise have read…

All the more reason to spell well. 🙂

ABC broadcasting from Googleplex

I think ABC is doing its World News Tonight newscast from the Googleplex right now: . I’m trying to get some work done, but I think my office is in the background if you’re interested. In case anyone walks by with a camera, I’ll leave out my Inigo Montoya sword and my “Watch out for falling spam” sign by the glass wall of my office.

Update: I’d like to send a shout out to K., A., and T., three colleagues who were in the final shot of the broadcast (in the “tent”). W00t! If you want to see more of the Googleplex, an ABC video has seven minutes of footage that give you a pretty good feel for the Plex. What that video doesn’t reveal is the location of the minikitchen that has Green Apple Mentos. Mmm..