What Does Google Think About Linkbait?

Filed in Google, Link Building by Matt McGee on November 14, 2007 6 Comments

s_jenkins, who I assume is a new SBS reader, left his/her first comment late last night and included a couple questions that I think deserve more attention than a reply in that 14-month-old thread.

The questions were in reference to my old post, Linkbaiting for Small Businesses (or, What I Learned Last Week), in which I detailed how I wrote and linkbaited (is that a word?) an earlier post, the original Top 21 Signs You Need a Break from SEO.

s_jenkins asked:

Do you think that ‘baiting’ gives the term ‘linkbaiting’ a bad precedence? It seems that some people think that ‘linkbaiting’ automatically means a trap of sorts. In the same breath, does Google penalize for the term ‘linkbait’?

On the first issue, there’s been a lot of discussion about the word “linkbait,” and I agree it has possibly bad connotations. At the same time, I’m a No-BS, call-a-spade-a-spade kind of guy, and linkbait certainly fits as a name. Like it or not, the word has stuck. As a search marketer, it’s my job to make sure my clients get past any negative vibes they may get from the word itself, and focus on the positive vibes of crafting successful linkbait.

Plus, linkbait isn’t really new. Linkbait is all about the hooks, and the offline media have known that for ages. Listen to the first 30 seconds of tonight’s news — that’s their version of linkbait. Think back to the kid selling papers on the street corner, shouting a headline for all to hear; that kid was baiting people to buy a paper. Look at the magazine rack next time you’re shopping and you’ll see they all do their own version of linkbait:

magazine ‘linkbait’ examples

I just grabbed three magazines off the shelf here in my U2 shrine office. (The junk stuff my wife reads is even worse!) “Bait” is everywhere, whether we like it or not.

On the second question, does Google penalize for linkbait? Not at all. Successful linkbait should lead to relevant links, and relevant links are Google’s friends. Matt Cutts (Google spam cop) has written about linkbait a few times on his personal blog. Here’s one:

“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…. Linkbaiting sounds like a bad thing, but especially if it’s interesting information or fun, it doesn’t have to have negative connotations.”

More recently, Matt wrote about a San Diego chiropractor who has started learning “great linkbaiting techniques.”

I hope this post answers your questions, s_jenkins. And I hope you’ll share more thoughts and questions here on SBS in the future.

Comments (6)

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  1. s_jenkins says:

    i really appreciate it.

    thanks a lot!

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