Tuesday, December 9, 2008

21 KEYS TO LINK BAIT SUCCESS by FamousAgents Staff

What Is Link Bait and Why Does it Matter To You?

Eric Ward, also known as the Godfather of linking, describes it best: “Link Bait is more or less anything you create anywhere on the Web that inspires other people to link to it. They can link to it via a Web page, a blog, social bookmark site, tagging site, e-zine, newsletter, IM, email or any other method that tells others about the bait.”

The ultimate result then being higher traffic to your site and therefore higher search engine rankings. So, why should you cultivate an understanding of this extensively discussed link-generating ability?

Link baiting is now. If you wish to keep your site competitive on the pages of search engines, it is imperative that you have the knowledge base to vie for that top spot among REALTORs on the Internet.

Before you grow intimidated and curl up in the corner, however, know that link baiting is a different game in the real estate world.

If you are like me, you probably feel constantly inundated with SEO articles advocating that single, hugely successful link bait project that boosts your site to the front page of Digg or generates traffic so overwhelming that your server crashes.

REALTORs need to understand that it’s ok if you don’t become famous overnight.
If every time you write one notable piece you gain one, two, five, or ten prominent links, the article did its job. Do not underestimate the small increase in legitimate links. In online real estate marketing, those few quality links are your ride to the apex of search engine rankings.
Link baiting can be found in numerous forms as you may have learned in our previous article. News, contrary, attack, resource, and humor are the five categories found on sites among various SEO experts. However, as we were going through the list, Jim was alarmed to see one fundamental technique entirely omitted.

As he so candidly reminded me, the “granddaddy of them all” was missing. I couldn’t believe it myself. As a result, we will be working off a new and improved list – we are confident the addition is more than worthy.

News, contrary, attack, resource, humor, and – the added element – fear, are the hooks every avid link baiter must master.

1. NEWSLearning and expanding what we know is what drives the perpetual exploration on the Internet. Make your site a reliable source for news-seekers.
You will grow a reader base that turns to you when they want to know the happenings in the neighborhood, community, city, state, country, or world. Imagine the influx of traffic that you will see once you offer the service of delivering news to their fingertips.
As a REALTOR, this is a golden opportunity for you to become an active member in the community. Gain name recognition, and provide an appreciated service to your neighbors at the same time.

Keeping yourself up to date with the events around town will reflect well on you and aid you in developing a trustworthy rapport among future potential clients.

2. CONTRARYA contrary hook can be slightly trickier, but when you can pull it off, your site will benefit immensely. The hook revolves around the contradiction of something done or said by someone else in your field. Don’t be afraid to start a debate about a contested hot topic. Take what others in your field say and offer a different perspective.
Another twist to the hook is supplying your readers with bizarre information about a certain big shot that your audience is familiar with. Try it, and your site will most definitely gain some attention. Remain civil with the contradiction or the hook might take a violent shove into the next hook category.

3. ATTACKThe attack hook is linked directly to the contrary hook addressed above. Attack, however, takes the contradiction one step further, and ultimately lives up to its name.
Attacking your competition will garner you an entirely different reaction from your audience. It will undoubtedly gain you traffic, but the type of interest your site will generate may shock you so be prepared.There is a warning label that comes with this hook.
The game of attacking others is a risky one. You’re setting yourself up in a position that you must prepare for.

If the person you attack has a substantial following, be ready for the negative attention that you’ll receive from avid supporters of the so-called victim. A mob might come knocking – on your blog door of course – and you better be geared up for the battle.
It may sound like a scary tactic to use to gain links. If used properly, the effectiveness does have the potential to be worth your while.

It’s true that you may end up with incredibly negative attention from some. However, in the meantime, you will acquire additional authority and reliability among your peers and followers if the attack is justifiable and relevant.

4. RESOURCEA resource hook lives up to its name and leaves little to the imagination.
The page is solely informational. You take countless sources full of information and distill the data into a core, cumulative report. Presto, just like that you are offering valuable, reliable, yet condensed information to your readers – not to mention you have the advantage of offering it from your perspective.

5. HUMORHumor is universal.

You can depend on humor hooks to bring in readers from all over - without risking offending your audience or alienating yourself.
Use humor to entice a crowd which, like many of us, have grown tired of the daily routine and are actively looking for an outlet. Keep in mind, however, that just because you use humor you can still effectively convey a message.
As a REALTOR, use comedic stories from around the community or about real estate in general. Find irony in the local newspaper, take pictures of amusing images, or simply post jokes that you run across. You’ll then find surfers coming back to your site often to see what innovative, wacky things they will find.
It should go without saying, but keep your jokes clean.
Use humor as your vehicle of choice. Get the laughter flowing and watch the traffic topple in.

6. FEAREvery person in the world will bite at a story if you scare them. It is quite possibly the strongest hook available to you.
Incite panic in your audience and watch them run screaming in search of an explanation and a remedy to the situation.
As a real estate expert, you have the ability to see changes on the horizon. A fear hook may be as simple as notifying residents in your community (thus prospective clients) that a change in the market is imminent. Tell them to buy now or wait to sell (whatever the case may be); save them money, become a hero.
If you do a sufficient job of using scare tactics in your headline – just enough to make the reader wonder what’s going on – you will witness an influx of traffic to your site.
People will be incessant in their quest to uncover the full story, and because your site has the answer, it becomes their destination.
Again be careful with this hook. It is extremely effective, but if you take it too far you will have some unhappy, skeptical readers on your hands.These hooks are all precious link bait mechanisms to utilize. You just have to unleash your brainpower to effectively put them to work. Beware, even Matt Cutts chimes in to warn us to avoid overusing any of the above links. They all have the potential of becoming tired and fruitless if you aren’t cautious.
Be credible – be creative – be cautious.
NOW… The 21 Keys to Link Bait Success
1. Don’t Self-IndulgeAlthough it may be tempting to place other advertisements on your home page and other high-traffic areas – DON’T. Avoid the temptation, and it will undoubtedly make your site more link-worthy.
2. The Value of Popularity Didn’t Die in High SchoolA recurring suggestion found everywhere is to become genuine friends with influential and well-respected people in your niche – links from them are always beneficial.
You then have the opportunity to pick each others minds and eventually link to one another.
3. Become a Blogging AficionadoPost quality content frequently and consistently. This is how you develop a following.
Make certain that your posts vary in length and the content in the extensive articles merit the time it takes to read them.
Problogger offers some great tips on building blog authority.
Keep in mind that blogging is not a free for all opportunity to write and do what you want… if you want to remain respected. There are in fact deadly sins of blogging that you must be aware of.
4. Know the Tough StuffAaron Wall from SEObook reminds us that…“the harder it is to find a piece of information, the easier it is to grab a chunk of the market if you provide a quality answer to that associated problem.”
Do everything you can to be informed and ensure you have all the answers to the ultimate questions facing the industry.

5. Be a Social ButterflySubscribe to various social networking sites like digg, del.icio.us, and reddit.
When you are creating your profile on the various social networks, make it legitimate. Using a “codename” will get you nowhere. Use your full name to ensure that you develop a reputation that will benefit your site.
Jim believes that Digg’s algorithm looks at the articles you digg in relation to the success it eventually sees. If you begin to digg quality articles that make it to the front page of Digg, you gain credibility. Then, when you digg your own work, you carry more weight than someone who is so self-involved that they only digg their own articles.
Digg others’ articles, and they are likely to return the favor. People want to know who is taking the time to validate their efforts. They will turn to your site to figure out who you are, and then digg your articles in return.
Also, reading the top stories will contribute to the generating ideas of your own for your site. You instantly get a taste of the content captivating readers – right now, not last month.

6. Broaden Your HorizonsDon’t get stuck in a rut of only writing content about real estate.
People care about what affects them, and there are a million things you can tie into your site’s content. Give people what they want. Talk about life and give your readers the opportunity to connect with you.

7. Reach a Nationwide AudienceYou may be tempted to focus all of the attention on your site to your local prospective clients. Do not, however, discount the benefits of writing for a national audience. The Real Estate Tomato has a wonderful article outlining the countless benefits of writing to a broad, national audience.
You are opening doors to the opportunity to offer your expertise to REALTORs and their clients across the country. And don’t forget… you never know where your next client is coming from.
8. Swallow Your PrideTalk up your site and your business with friends and acquaintances. Get them to digg your blogs or post on Reddit.

Maybe you’ll acquire a few new, devoted readers.

9. Interacting With Your Readers is OverratedWRONG!!!
If you’ve ever read the above statement, disregard it - it’s bologna. Building a relationship will result in loyalty – loyalty will result in links.
Chat it up. Then… Invite interaction from your readers.

Allow comments on your blog posts. Set up a forum for interaction. Then INTERACT.

10. How Do I…Where Do I???You know how to find what you’re looking for on your site. That means zilch. Sit down with someone who doesn’t know your site and see how easy or difficult it is for them to navigate the site. If they need a map and compass, you may want to consider revamping it and making the site more user-friendly.
Remember, once you hook ‘em, you’ve got to keep them there. They won’t stay if they can’t figure out how to get from one page to another. Once frustration sets it, they are gone.

11. .Gov & .Edu – What’s the Big Deal?Credibility, credibility, credibility.

Virtually any average Joe can link to your site, but who’s going to trust them? Get a .gov or .edu link however, and your site must have something substantial to offer.
It’s a complicated task. But if you can pull it off, the integrity your site immediately gains is priceless.

12. Mary Had a Little LambThat’s right folks, it’s back to basics.
Remember in elementary school when we had to sit through tedious grammar lessons and take excruciatingly mind-numbing spelling tests?
Good news - it wasn’t for nothing. People don’t want to stumble through content because you opted against running spell check or ensuring you are grammatically correct.
Know the difference between accept and except, affect and effect, it’s and its, and there and their.
If a 10 year old can do it, so can we.

13. Direct Your Audience Right to Your DoorstepSubmit your site to various online directories.
This is a great link for global and general directories. If more specific is what you’re looking for try a regional or niche-specific directory.

14. Real World RelationshipsDevelop ‘real’ relationships with your peers when you have the opportunity.
At conferences and training sessions, meet as many people as possible, and begin communicating with them on a regular basis. Then, take a good look at their site. If it’s something you want to be associated with, link to it.
They’ll most likely link to your site as well. Chances are they have a reader base that will then be introduced to your work.

15. Readers Have Needs TooGet a feel for what your readers are passionate about and USE THAT KNOWLEDGE.
Cliffhangers, up-and-coming posts, and articles that will leave your loyal readers chomping at the bit for more are incredibly effective… if you know what they like.
The interaction that we are advocating will assist you in figuring out what your readers want.
Remember… if your promise a follow up to an article or a series, you must deliver. Otherwise their abandonment of your site is imminent.

16. You’re not Always the Center of the UniverseJust because an idea is not your top priority doesn’t mean it’s not important to your audience.
Plain and simple: “Ideas spread because they are important to the spreader… not the originator.” –Jennifer Laycock “Give Them Something to Talk About”
Making yourself an active part of other blogs that transcend your focus will make you a stronger link baiter. Know what others want to know, and expand – making it relevant to real estate is what sets you apart from others.

17. Strong Post – Even Better HeadlineUnderstand the importance of a good post, but don’t discount the time you put into developing your headline.
If your headline isn’t compelling, you might as well write about what you ate for dinner.
You must take time to develop a well-crafted headline that hits your readers with a strong dose of curiosity. Don’t be afraid. Be bold. Check out these suggestions from Brian over at Copy Blogger.
REMEMBER: Your article better live up to its magnetic title. If your headline reads: “Arizona Runs Out of Water,” you are obligated to tell your readers exactly what kind of crisis you are talking about.

18. Be In The KnowA RSS feed will effectively bring you information from the sites of your choosing.
Going over current events allows you to distribute information to your readers at the drop of a hat. It’s also a brilliant way to come up with blog ideas.
Google Reader is our reader of choice.

19. Maintain Your Good NameYour reputation is at stake every time you link to another site.
When you link to a site, think of it as an endorsement. Your readers will follow the links you bring them because they have confidence in your ability to sniff out the noteworthy material. Be certain that you will not regret the backing of another site.
A link is an endorsement; don’t get your self in a sticky situation.

20. Here’s My CardIt may seem obvious, but it’s my job to remind you.
Make sure you list not only your email address, but also your WEBSITE on your business cards.
We live in a world where you can order pizza on the Internet… and people do. So why not give your contacts the option of initially checking you out on your site rather than taking up your valuable time on a phone call?

21. Get the Remedy…. With No Side Effects!There are a million places to go for the cure to the dreaded “there’s nothing to write about” plague.

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