A month ago, Aaron and I published 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity in 2006. Partly we wrote it for fun ("going meta" link baiting a link building piece!), but partly we wrote it for business reasons: to gain new customers, links, and branding. In light of that, I thought I'd write a quick follow-up as to the value and ROI on that piece. I believe it's a pretty typical example of what well-executed (and well-packaged) link bait can do for a site, in terms of marketing and SEO.
What was the link bait? How much did it cost?
The link bait was a very long list of link building tips - a typical (somewhat cheesy) 101'er. (Hey, 101'ers work, sometimes cheesy is good!)
The cost in this case wasn't money - it was time. It took Aaron and I about 10-15 hours total to research, write, edit and promote the piece. Of course, as any SEO professional knows, time is money. Assuming our time is valued at $500 USD/hour (what Aaron charges for consulting), we can estimate the cost of the link bait at $5,000 USD.
What value did the link bait deliver?
1. Backlinks to the article
Technorati shows: 262 links
MSN shows: 3,458 links
Yahoo! shows: 4,309 links
Of course, SEOBook is extremely well-linked already, but link building (and authority-building, and trust-building) is a continuous process. And if SEOBook.com had been a new site, that amount of natural links would have certainly been enough to break it out of the sandbox.
But what is the exact value of these links? If you're a numbers cruncher: what does a link from Yahoo! Directory or Business.com cost (for a year)? How about a quality rented link? Then what do you value several hundred permanent, relevant in-contents link at?
The article is now ranking in the top ten for "build link popularity", and in the top 50 on searches for "link popularity" and "link building." Obviously these rankings are not going to drive a huge amount of traffic, but what they do drive will be targeted; and of course, the trust and authority that these links confer on the SEOBook.com domain will help all pages on the domain rank more highly.
There's a greater chance now that when people think "link building," they are going to think "Aaron Wall and Andy Hagans." We also managed to reach #1 on Delicious/Popular, which exposed our names and sites to a different audience outside of the narrower SEO niche.
4. Direct traffic
Being #1 on Delicious sends a lot of traffic. So does being linked by several hundred blogs. That means eBook sales for Aaron, and new client leads for my link building firm.
What is my point here?
My point is that 15 hours of work (even split with a well-connected partner), yielded a downright silly amount of return.
Results may vary
I am not sure we can consider this particular link bait piece as typical, as SEOBook went into it with a ton of mindshare and following, which made earning the links and bookmarks a lot easier. If the piece had been written by lesser-known SEOs on a lesser-known blog, it would have probably received far fewer references. However, I think had anyone written the article and put a bit of effort into promoting it, they would have gotten a good ROI out of it. (In fact, a lesser-known SEO probably would have stood more to gain.)
Now is as good of a time as any to announce that I am now offering a link bait service on a limited basis. At several thousand dollars a pop, it won't be the answer for most, but I think it's going to be fun to take the most effective current SEO tactic to clients.
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