Posted by Jane Copland
This is an older topic, but one which is still worth discussing: what is the best way to investigate linkbait, viral or other content-based link building efforts in "boring" industries? How best to find out what worked in the past? How best to find out what didn’t work?
We have a range of tools at our disposal when it comes to content-based link building research. You’ve heard of all of them, but it’s not likely that you’ve used them in a complimentary fashion before, using one to back up the holes left by the others.
- I tried clicking Stumble all night and not doing the dishes but it didn’t teach me much about niche content creation or its linking potential.
- Instead, you can browse words in any tag by right-clicking on the word. You can do this anywhere on the net. It’s actually one of StumbleUpon’s unsung fantastic features. Get as specific as you like, and remember that you don’t even have to find a page with your desired keywords included in text. Run the word through a search engine and take the word off the search results page.
- The results of these stumbles aren’t always fantastic, but if you stumble far enough, they offer an insight into how tough the competition is within StumbleUpon for any particular keyword. There is really no such thing as the "everyman’s social media site": anyone who has enjoyed a lot of StumbleUpon traffic knows that 99% of them ride in on Firefox and the rest aren’t using Internet Explorer, but the silent giant of the toolbar is as close as anything to a mass-market, general social site.
- Be sure to check the submissions page of the URL you’ve stumbled to. This is available either via the "speech bubble" icon next in the toolbar to the right of "Send to" and to the left of "Channels," or by typing in http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/(url-of-page). If page after page appears blank, aside from the information left by the submitter, the niche is likely completely untapped within StumbleUpon.
- People seem to confuse Del.icio.us (or, delicious.com nowadays) as being a more civilised Digg, but its role as a bookmarking site makes it much more useful for researching quality content, as opposed to easily-digested, front-page news. As I highlighted two weeks ago, linkable content exists on a spectrum and each different type of content has its uses. For the purpose of true content-centric link building, referencing bookmarked pages is far more useful than seeing what someone chose to Digg or even Stumble.
- Studying Del.icio.us (damn it, do I have to call it Delicious? Was I the only person on the Internet who liked the dots?) for non-tech content shows you what techy people find appealing. This is so important for "boring" industries. A large percentage of the world’s workforce aren’t social media participants, so content with which you plan to attract links has to be created with the online world in mind. Delicio.us (see, I compromised) is a goldmine of such content.
Linkscape and Yahoo! Site Explorer
- Again, as I showed in graphic fashion in a blog post a couple of weeks ago, link building with content is not about how popular it became, but how popular a search engine sees it as being. Let’s ignore for a second the fact that the more advanced search engines probably can acknowldge a range of social factors. Pretend that we’re living in the Orthodox Church of SEO and that link popularity and passed PageRank are the only relevant metrics. Link numbers matter. Research the pieces you’ve found in Yahoo!’s larger index, and then use Linkscape to analyse what those links mean.
- Because Linkscape reveals 301s, 302s and meta refreshes, you can follow a piece of content’s PageRank trail (or lack of one; you’ll see people do silly things). If you tried to reach an old piece of linkbait and saw that you were 301 redirected elsewhere, you should first decide which level of bait and switch you consider this redirection to be on. Then take the resolving URL to Linkscape and see a) how many other pages were redirected to this page, and b) whether many people link to the page, thinking their links point to the removed content. No one really knows whether the bait and switch deceives a large number of people. Have a look at this before you try it. It’s likely that the more technology-centered crowd will notice a cheeky redirect.
- Take a look at the anchor text. Look to see if people have actually adopted a site’s badges if the content provided one. Linkscape will report on whether the link is an image and will provide alt text, so patterns in badge adoption are blatantly easy to see. This is also a good way of determining which badges people like and which they avoid, although the simple rule is: pretty = high adoption rate; ugly = fail.
- It’s SEO, right? So what happened in the search engines? Do people ever actually take sites that obviously create on-topic linkbait and see how it’s worked for them in terms of ranking for their competitive keywords?
- If you’ve analysed Yahoo!’s and Linkscape’s data and acknowledged which pieces of content appear to have been the most successful, you should see that reflected in search results. Using the rank checker can help simplify the process.
- Of course, you will have to take into account previous domain strength as well, and no tool can do this for you with a couple of clicks. However, detailed analysis of linkbait usually results in you seeing one or two smaller domains ranking surprisingly well after a devastatingly well-composed, well-executed linkbait campaign.
TO CONCLUDE, I’D LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL CAPSLOCK DAY. I CONSIDERED WRITING THIS WHOLE POST IN CAPSLOCK AND THEN REALISED THAT WE’D END UP WITH ABOUT 290 SUBSCRIBERS, AND THOSE WERE THE PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T CHECK THEIR FEEDREADER TODAY. PASS THE MEME ALONG 😉
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