Thursday, October 21, 2010

3 Common Types of Link Bait

When you're working on SEO for your site, you'll quickly learn that the most important step is link building. Once you have the basics in place for on-site SEO -- proper title tags, keyword optimized content, and so on -- you'll begin the process of building links. The more influential the site you are linked from, the more value the link will provide. One link from the front page of would be worth more than a considerable chunk of links built from commenting around on various small do-follow blogs. The trouble is, you can't plant links on or other major sites yourself; they have to want to link to you. So, what can you do to encourage this?

The key is to create content others want to link to, aka link bait. The higher quality of content you create, the more likely people will be to share it with others, first through social media, but eventually by creating content of their own linking to you. Link bait is content developed specifically to attract links. Infographics, "how to" guides, and "best of" lists are some of the most frequently shared content on the Web, and so are often created as link bait.

Infographics are particularly popular at the moment (so much so, I believe the market is nearing saturation, so be careful). These are visually pleasing representations of data. They're a step above charts and graphs, usually incorporating cartoon-like characters, silhouettes, or vector art scenery. They must be both pleasing to look at and contain accurate, interesting data which is clarified by the visual enhancements.

"How to" guides answer the obvious, often in steps. How do I build a website? How do I build a deck? People will always need instructions, and "how to" or "how do I" are common phrasings for this style of query. Just don't stick a question mark at the end of "How to build a website" -- that's just a statement. The question form of this phrase is "How do I build a website?" or "Are you wondering how to build a website?"

Finally, "best of" lists are another common form of link bait. You might collect a group of the funniest cat pictures from I Can Has Cheezburger, the most useful SEO tools on the Web, or the most valuable marketers to follow on Twitter. There is a lot of content online, and people are constantly looking for quick and easy distillations of their favorite subjects to help them quickly digest top quality content.

Just because this kind of content is often created with link baiting in mind doesn't mean it loses its value. If you do real work to find your top list of funny cat pictures or create the best how-to guide you're able, you are providing a service to your readers, old and new. As long as your link bait is high quality, relevant to the rest of your content, and interspersed with other articles less obviously "link baity," your readers will appreciate your efforts, and you'll be inviting backlinks.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

SEO: The Essential Blueprint of Any Website

There really is no overstating SEO’s crucial importance in a website’s overall effectiveness and success. Just as you would not rush into building a house without first having a clear plan and blueprint in place, you shouldn’t start building your site without a plan in place. Before you buy that domain or start debating the aesthetics of your page, you need to tackle the “nuts and bolts” of your site so that it will operate optimally.

(Image from Peg Syverson)
The foundation of any website, no matter the industry, lies in SEO. It is crucial you take the time to research the terms that people are searching so that you can formulate a list of keywords you can build into your site from the get-go. Implanting these terms is a vital step that must be taken, the same way that it is imperative to build a strong, lasting foundation when building a house.

Once you have taken the time to lay out the necessary groundwork, it is then time to address the structure of your website. You need to decide upon the levels of navigation you want to present to the viewer, keeping in mind it is integral to present just the right amount of information. You don’t want your visitors to be underwhelmed, yet care needs to be taken to make sure that they aren’t overloaded, either. It is also essential to structure your site in a way that is logical so that visitors can follow a path through the sales process.

Just remember: building your site is a lot like building a house. If you were building a house, you certainly wouldn’t go off, willy-nilly, building aimlessly with no clear plan in place. By the same token, you need to approach the website building process in the same manner. Take your time to do the research and planning and you will be well on your way to success!