Thursday, 15 November 2007

Press-Bait

Anyone that is involved in the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) would be familiar with the art of link-baiting. For those that are unaware, this is the art of creating content that is so compelling that other webmasters link to it naturally. As any online marketeer should know, attracting free links to your website is an invaluable means of meeting your online objectives whatever they may be.

There are various mechanisms that companies employ to gather interest in the form of links; Top 10 lists, exclusive interviews, revealing secretive information and prize draws are just some examples. One of the most common, is the art of being controversial. Currently, there are fewer restricions on published content on the web. Writers can almost say what they want to gather links making the art of headline writing crucial.

To find an example of link-bait in the offline world, just open up any tabloid newspaper. It's usually packed full of minor celebities that have deliberately placed themselves in situations where they can be captured by the paparazzi. Again, acting controversially gets you noticed. For example, Joey Barton received newspaper space for criticising members of the England football team. Lilly Allen is another that has built a career out of baitng for popularity, most recently attacking Radiohead's decision to release their latest album on a voluntary payment sheme.

The art of baiting is not exclusive to the online world nor is it anything new. It is successful in getting sites or people recognised. However does this mean that the public have a better opinion of them? In my view web authors should prioritise engaging users and ensuring they have a positive experience on their site. Just attracting users is no longer enough. Google now need to recognise this and stop relying so heavily on simple inbound links in order to rank websites.


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