Today, we're talking about poor old linkbait, a term that gets a bad rap in a lot of circles, mainly because of its name. It's hard to argue that the word "bait" doesn't come with a pejorative connotation. The word jailbait springs to mind, for example.
We like to think of linkbait as really just strategically placed, well-crafted content. The goal is to generate interest and, of course, incoming links to your website. There are dozens of linkbaiting techniques, from creating awards and contests to writing controversial pieces or character assassinations on high-profile people in the hope of stirring up controversy and, again, links. You'll also see people create handy tools or put together "Best Of" and "Top 10" lists.
We dabble in all of these techniques and more, depending on the needs of our clients. In reality, it's an integral part of most in-depth search engine marketing campaigns. But cat-calls and hissy fits equating link bait with spam or "black hat" techniques are often overblown (and, if truth be told, just laughable efforts to generate links by bashing linkbaiting itself).
The reality is, good content is good content, and that's all that matters online. It's all about intent -- if you're offering something that people genuinely care about or find interesting, educational or controversial in an enlightening manner, you will garner solid links. And you will deserve to garner them. Most people will see right through linkbait that offers nothing.
And that's an important lesson for all aspects of search engine marketing: It really is a two-way street. If you're not thinking about content and campaigns with your existing and potential clients -- as well as your competitors -- at the forefront of the mind, you're in trouble.