The LinkBait Debate: Spam or not?

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So there has been a lot of mention about linkbait over the past few months. Some SEOs seem to treat it as the be all and end all when it comes to promoting a site. While I have no doubt it can be superb for a promoting a site by generating incoming links and, in my opinion more importantly, increasing a blogs subscription level it has also generated a huge spam issue.

There are plenty of linkbait techniques while most of them fall under a handful or methods including:

1. Tools – Examples include Business Opportunities Blog Worth with 1.5 Million links in Yahoo Site Explorer , or perhaps Digpagerank 12k Links.

2. Quizzes – Diggtest was Dugg 2843 times, though it does only have 766 links that’s not bad for one easy bit of linkbait.

3. Lists – Top Ten Reasons Marijuana Should be Legal (5,520 Links, 2018 Diggs) The Ten Most Obnoxiously over-quoted movies (1,090 Links, 2592 Diggs)

4. Statistics/Research – Top 100 Digg Users (655 Diggs, 434 Links)

5. Controversy – George W “Atheists Neither Citizens nor Patriots” (4973 Diggs, 1,140 Links), or What Should You Do if You Find an Atheist? (3750 Diggs, 547 Links, for an image). I didn’t really know what to use for controversial so just searched for atheists as religion always causes a stir.

Problogger has a nice LIST of linkbait techniques to use if you want some other ideas.

I am sure there are some Elitist Digg members may say all linkbait is spam but while many/most of the above were designed as linkbait they were all original (as far as I know) and they were all fun or informative so therefore surely they are could not be spam.

Unfortunately with every good piece of good linkbait comes along dozens of pieces of spammy linkbait. We already know how to become a Digg power user in 48 hours, and DigitalPoint has several Digg services to help get you higher in Digg or even guarantee you getting to the front page of Digg.

This has led to posts like these:

  1. Armoured cars: Essential kit for presidents. A word for word copy of the BBC News item with the same title that received 455 Diggs and has 412 links in Yahoo.
  2. Stretch Limousine + San Francisco Hills = Disaster. Now this one is a bit more interesting as the website is for a Fort Lauderdale Limo Service, that blatantly linkbaited by creating a page of grounded limos. While that may of been unique or not they now seem to of removed that page and forwarded it to a page advertising a Miami Limo Service, I assume its 301’d to try and keep the influence of the old page. The old images are available here.
  3. Btunnel – Free website blocker. Hat Tip to Blogstom. This one doesn’t even try and hide the fact it is spam!

So what ways are there to stop this spam? Digg bans the site or the users? So what we can create a new user and I if you get your site banned from Digg then there is always reddit etc.

The main concerns are what is Google etc going to do about it, after all isn’t that what linkbaiting all about? Blogstorm, SEOBook, and EMarketingPerformance have all posted about Google looking in to a sites natural link growth and discounting links that grow in spikes, therefore devaluing linkbaitng unless you keep launching successful linkbait one after another. As BlogStorm suggests the best possible technique to follow would be long term link bait such as “how to’s” which will gather links constantly over a long period of time.

Unfortunately if Google does go down the route of penalising sites that grow large numbers of links during a short period of time I imagine they will penalise many sites that have hit Digg/Reddit/etc naturally rather than on purpose, and possibly creating even more controversy than the recent PageRank update where many innocent sites had their PR dropped.

James
I am the director of Dolphin Promotions, a full service web design and marketing company based in Blackpool, UK.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Glen Allsopp

    The thing about linkbait is, no matter whether it was blatant linkbait or not, the content is still probably interesting or beneficial to the reader.

    Thanks for the link, I actually did my post out of personal interest but I did want to push it out there a bit. Nice blog btw

  • James

    I think thats the thing with a lot of people in our industry, even if a post is out of personal reasons it will always look like linkbait to some extent. Thanks for the comment

  • Vancouver Island SEO

    I agree there is a lot of link bait spam, and there are known Digg Armies for hire on the prowl. But there are a lot of legitimate ones out there. To find my favorite link bait google the term bra company link bait. The bounce-o-meter is a real winner 🙂

  • multippt

    Link-bait is something that has been around. Not much of a problem really – if people like something, they link to it.
    Link-bait is not really spam. Yes, it is bait that is crafted to be linked (and are usually designed for personal profit), but the primary reason why people link to it is because it is considered worthy and interesting, and definitely not thought of spam.

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