Monday, December 17, 2007

How to Linkbait

There are lots of ways to go out and get other people to link to you. You can ask for it, you can promise a return link, and in some cases, you can even buy them.

An even better way of getting the links is by having something on your site that’s worth linking to. Nick Wilson over at refers to these things as “hooks” in a process called “linkbaiting”. The idea is to have something that people want. Then, when other bloggers and site owners see it, they write about it, and link back to it, or, at least, tell other people about it.

It can sometimes be tricky to think of something that is good enough to draw in traffic, and make others want to act on it.

It all starts with that hook. The hook is that idea or that thought that can capture people’s attention. In songwriting, the hook is that part, usually in the chorus, where the song’s title repeats. It’s what makes you say, “I can’t get that *&*#^! song out of my head!” In linkbaiting, you can pull from a number of categories to get your hook-y ideas.

  1. Resource Hook

This is a hook that’s based on some sort of information or resource at your site. Always relevant to your audience, your site’s niche, and your products, of course. Make a big huge list of other websites and blogs that are relevant to your niche. People will find your list of links resourceful. Also, those that are on the list are likely to link back to you.

A really good How-To article can be a great draw. Make sure that it’s clearly written and has some good tips and insights. Others will link to you. A few weeks ago, I needed to learn how to make sourdough bread. When I found a page that described it in clear and simple detail, I bookmarked it. When I blogged about my own experience making the bread, I referenced the original article.

Make it be more than just a list of a few tips.

  1. News Hook

If you can find some news in your subject area, and can be one of the first to mention it, that’s a great linkbait hook. That can be tricky, since, of course, most of us get our news from the web. So, if you find it on the web, it’s very likely that you’re not going to be the one to scoop it. Still, if it’s fresh enough, you can still get in the early waves of it.

Also, if you get a few angles on an existing story and synthesize them into a single commentary with a perspective that nobody has explored yet, you can still be early in an existing story. You can also be one of the first to point out an error in someone else’s analysis of a situation that’s developing.

  1. Contrary or Attack Hooks

These can be problematic. This is where you write about how wrong or bad someone or something else is. On the one hand, if this is well-written and well-presented, it can draw links like a bad burger draws flies. On the other hand, it can also get other people pretty upset at you pretty quickly. People like Howard Stern and other radio personalities have made careers out of this strategy.

  1. Humor Hook

Everybody loves to read something funny. Post a joke. Write a top ten list. Post a funny picture or video clip. “You know you’re a –fill in the blank- when…” All this stuff can work, especially if it’s truly original.

A long time ago, on a forum, someone posted the old “Ten reasons why a beer is better than a wife.” Someone else followed up with “Ten reasons why a cop of coffee is better than a husband.” I sat for a few minutes and made up “Ten reasons why my wife is better than a cup of coffee.” It had items like, “When my heart races, I know it’s not the caffeine!” The board was buzzing about that one for weeks afterward.

There are lots of possible hooks, and lots of possible reasons why people might link back to you. You just never know when someone will find you interesting. You can do some things to make it more likely to happen, though.

Also, always remember that when you write your link bait, make sure that you also make it bait the search engines by using strong and relevant search words. After all, if they can’t find it in the first place, they sure won’t link to it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How Brittany Spears and the Dallas Cowboys Can Help Your Website

Wait. Brittany Spears can help my website? We’re talking about the same Brittany Spears that went crazy and shaved her head, right? The Brittany Spears that has been going through all the legal troubles and custody battles for her kids? The Brittany Spears that bombed so bad at the MTV video awards? I don’t care who Brittany Spears is dating. I don’t even like to listen to Brittany Spears. How can she help my website? You mean the same Brittany Spears whose name has been used no less than eight times so far in this article?

OK, that’s a rather extreme example, and actually very poorly used, but you probably already see where I’m going with this. I call it “Search Baiting”. Other people might call it “selling out”, but as a strategy for search engine optimization, it works. Let me give you a much better example.

The other day, I was talking to one of my students in our regular weekly sessions. She had just set up her first blog on her site, and had made her first blog entry. Her site was selling all kinds of sports paraphernalia; things like: pro team jerseys, stadium chairs and blankets, and also basketballs, baseballs, footballs, and other sports equipment. In her first blog entry she exercised her right as a fan with an opinion to take the owner of one of her favorite football teams, the Dallas Cowboys, to task. She was upset about one of the players in the news, and how the team owner wasn’t doing enough to discipline that player.

As I read over her blog entry, I found her thoughts to be well articulated and well founded. But the posting lacked something: Hot keywords.

She had only used the name of the team once, the name of the player twice, and the name of the owner once. What an opportunity missed! This would be a great chance for good search engine optimization! I pointed out to her that the article could be rewritten in such a way that it had at least 3-4 mentions of the player’s name, and the team name as well. Since there was a certain amount of controversy surrounding the event, that would generate some searches.

Another example: The movie “The Golden Compass” for a while was creating quite a stir in religious circles because the author of the original book has claimed to be an atheist. The bloggosphere was abuzz with commentary and speculation about the movie. At first I rolled my eyes at it, until I saw it as an opportunity. I thought, “Wait a minute… I have an opinion about this movie, too, and my blog is all about my opinions. Why don’t I blog about it, and include the keyword a few times in my blog?” So, I did. And I got a sudden and marked spike in my traffic, which corresponded to a spike in my Google Adsense money, as well.

Hey, I can sell out, too, ya know!

Here’s the trick: It really has to fit. It’s not just about search engine optimization. It’s also about readers.

My example of Brittany Spears (hey, there’s another instance) really was a bad one. First of all, I wouldn’t pack so many repetitions of a word (or phrase) into one paragraph. It reads badly, and will turn people off, even if it does include lots of keywords.

Also, Brittany Spears really doesn’t have anything to do with my article or my audience in this blog, and I didn’t really make any effort to make her relevant. There are ways to tie a topic in to be appropriate for a given blog or a given audience, however, and with a little creativity, you can still pull it off. For example, in a blog about good parenting, you could write about how “airhead superstars” or “delinquent football players” are making it hard for your children to find really good role models, and you could pack that with keywords that will draw in people interested in those names.

So, to do it right, find a topic to write about. Something you feel is important to you. Think of a way to tie that to a common name or keyword, and write your article or blog posting.

Also, even if you can’t tie it into one of the hottest searches of the day, or the latest news or pop culture phenomenon, when you’re done making any posting, go back through your article and think, “What would someone search for if they were going to find this article?” And then review and rewrite the article to contain more of those keywords. Use the words to your search engine advantage.

One last example: Go to Mark’s Black Pot and see how many times you see the words, “Dutch Oven”…

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is Bluetooth?

What does your cell phone have to do with a 10th century Danish king?

Well, if it happens to be enabled with “Bluetooth” technology, it bears his name. Harald Bluetooth Gormson ruled Denmark and Norway in the late 900’s, and is credited with uniting much of the land that is current-day Scandinavia under one monarch.

Which is why, thousands of years later, his name has become a household word across the world.

Bluetooth technology is a way for modern electronic devices to communicate with each other without the use of wires. It basically allows one gadget to talk to and share data with another, sometimes from as much as 10 meters or more away. It’s intended for short range bursts of small amounts of information. Originally developed in southern Sweden, it was given the name of the old king because it unites different technologies of different brands and manufacturers, and allows them to work together.

So, how does that impact your cell phone?

Well, do you see those hands-free talking devices that people wear in their ears? Those are driven by Bluetooth technology. The earpiece is “paired” with a certain cellphone. That means that the two devices recognize each other and connect to each other. When you’re using one of those, the call comes in to your phone, and immediately you hear a signal in your earpiece. That alert was sent by Bluetooth. You reach up and click a button on your earpiece, and it signals back to the phone that you’re activating it and answering it. The phone connects the call, and you hear it in your earpiece. More Bluetooth. You talk, and the earpiece microphone picks up your voice, converts it to digital audio and sends it to the phone, again via Bluetooth. The phone sends it to your conversational partner, and you hear their response back in your earpiece using the same Bluetooth process, in reverse.

Meanwhile you can walk, type, use your hands, whatever you need to do.

This isn’t the only application for Bluetooth, either. Let’s look at some more:

  1. Wireless mice, keyboards and printers.

This is probably the most common use of Bluetooth outside of the cell phone technologies. Wireless mice (commonly used with laptops) and keyboards, all hooked to the computer via a Bluetooth “dongle”. These are small USB tabs that look a lot like the USB flash drive key ring thingies that people carry around to store and transport files. But instead of carrying memory, they are actually broadcasters and receivers of Bluetooth data, driving mice, keyboards, printers and other devices.

  1. Wireless headphones

When you listen to your music, do you like the cord dangling around your neck and getting tangled into everything you’re working on? No, I don’t either. A growing application for Bluetooth technology is in wireless headphones. Plug a dongle into your computer, put on your headphones and listen. Some cell phones can handle audio in Bluetooth, too, and that allows you to listen without the wires.

Need to get up and get a drink? No need to unplug your headphones. Also, many headphones that pair with cell phones also have built-in microphones so that when a phone call comes in, you don’t have to take the headphones off to talk to your friend.

  1. PDA sync

Got a Palm Pilot or a Pocket PC? Sync all your information to your computer via your Bluetooth dongle. The connection is slower than a wire, but I’ve found it to be more reliable, actually.

  1. Wireless networking between PCs

If you’ve got a few PC’s that need to be hooked up, and they’re close together, and won’t be transferring large amounts of data, a Bluetooth wireless network can work.

  1. Car Keys

Some newer cars now have Bluetooth keys. The car itself is Bluetooth enabled, and so it detects the key dongle on your key ring. It compares the codes inside, and if it recognizes it, allows access to the car.

  1. Car stereos

Again, if your cell phone, PDA, or mp3 player does Bluetooth, and your car stereo does, too, you can pair them up and play your pocket tunes in your car, just like you can with the headphones.

  1. Kiosks in Airports, etc…

Waiting for a plane? Want a magazine, book, or video on your PDA or other device? You can buy one from vending kiosks, and load it into your device using Bluetooth. Watch out, some locations are developing kiosks to send ads to your device, too.

  1. Gaming console controllers

The newest in gaming consoles use Bluetooth for their wireless controllers.

...And the list just goes on and on. As the technology develops, we’ll discover more and more uses for it, some that I’m sure we’d never imagined when it was first introduced.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.