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4 Great Linkbait Ideas Free for the Taking

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 22 January 2008 19:04

 .... An adventure with Gabriel Goldenberg of SEO ROI

Dave - Ok peeps, today I have brought in a ringer in the form of a fellow Canuck by the name of Gabriel Goldenberg from SEO ROI (more on him later) who had some pretty good ideas lying around that he felt like sharing. …. I was tempted just to keep them for myself, but who has time left in the day? Not I…. So enjoy!


Gabriel GoldenbergIf you’ve known me for any period of time, you’ll know that I produce ideas about a mile a minute. And frequently enough, I like the idea enough that I’ll go purchase a domain, write out a plan for it and sit on it until I have some time (I’ve learnt my lesson about spreading myself thin).

To wit: I currently own;

  • (motorcycle in French)
  • (check out the Overture on that - hah!)

 … and over a dozen more. Many of the ideas I get aren’t for websites though - they’re for linkbait.

 Just as with my website plans and ideas, I’m limited by time and resources. So rather than be a hog, I figured I’d share some of my ideas in the hope that someone else might benefit from executing them.


Idea 1 - Look How Popular I Am Social Networking Widget Linkbait 

You are like... SO COOL! OMG!!
This has got to be one of the simplest ideas to implement and will probably be one of the most succesfull (based on this gentleman’s wildly popular idea - disclosure: he helped me get my start in SEO).

Essentially, you aggregate data from different social networks on how many friends a person has/people they know/references they’ve been given (a la LinkedIn). You output a popularity score into a cool-looking badge that people can put on their Myspace profiles, Facebook, blogs etc. The badge links back to your site, where people can get their own badge.

Picture courtesy of dhammza.)

aahh... Paris in the spring...To help it spread virally, I figured some smart-aleck descriptions of how popular a person was might help. Output on the badges would read, in increasing order of popularity:

(Photo courtesy of Peter, Universal Photo.)

I am:

  • Living as a hermit, wandering the woods and listening to trees fall; 
  • A luddite, but with a few good friends;
  • Beginning to realize what this Internet thing my friends talk


about is;

  • Cloudy with occasional bursts of smile
  • Average Joe (or Jane)
  • Breaking into the cool crowd
  • Somebody popular who just wants to be loved by everyone
  • A mover and a shaker, in the vein of “Shake, Shake, Shake! Shake your booty…”
  • Socializing with Paris on my way to a photoshoot for People magazine.  

The APIs you’ll need:

  1. Facebook developers and fbml
  2. the unofficial Myspace API (can you believe Myspace only announced one upcoming in October??)
  3. Digg’s API
  4. LinkedIn (not out yet, though)
  5. Ning’s API for the micro-networks,
  6. and perhaps vBulletin’s API and this item on taking your friends with you.


Who will you get links from? Oh, I dunno… Anyone with an ego maybe?


Idea 2 - The Ultimate Hub-Oriented Link-Building Research Tool

I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to share this idea, because it’s so powerful that I’d rather wait and pay to have it programmed so that I get the links. (Inspiration on the pay-a-programmer-then-give-away-the-software front courtesy of this fellow.)

I’ve used the techniques this tool automates myself successfully and this tool would make link building ridiculously easier. I mean, it would practically make link-building services obsolete for anyone who’s not devastatingly lazy (except for linkbait services).

Ok, now that I’ve hyped it so much, let me lay out what the tool does. I wanted to have it created so badly that what follows is actually the spec sheet!


The Skinny

The idea behind this tool is to identify hubs linking to more than one competitor’s page/site and enable us to get the same link. The reason these links are desirable is that if they are linking to many of our competitors, they’re probably;

  • Relevant
  • a factor in the competition being ranked on top;
  • obtainable.

 Jim Boykins Backlink Tool

  In essence, it automates a lot of the research required for hub-based linkbuilding. The idea came to me from working with Jim Boykin’s Common Backlinks Tool, which I like because of my ideas/principles of linkbuilding. Jim’s tool is pretty sweet, but also pretty basic. And as of this New Year, it’s no longer free. Sorry Jim, but I can’t endorse the bait-and-switch technique with a link.


Photo of the Common Backlinks Tool’s results courtesy of Gray Wolf.

The tool works in four steps;

  1. Collection.
  2. Filtration.
  3. Narrow collection.
  4. Output.


Step 1: Collect the hub data. 

1. Scrape top 50 ranking URLs for any particular keyword.

2. Scrape top 100 hubs linking to 2 or more of the pages, for each set of 10 results (i.e. 500 hubs). I.e. 100 hubs linking to pages in the first SERP, then 100 hubs linking to those in the second…

3. Scrape top 100 common linking sites for every second site in first 20; then in the next 30. Still for the individual pages that rank, not root domain. I.e. compares hubs linking to sites 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17,19 and those linking to pages 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20.

4. Scrape top 10 for links to one site only. Still to page and not to domain generally.

5. Repeat 2-4 for domains themselves (unless homepage itself ranks).

6. Get PageRank of hubs.


Step 2: Filter it to be more easily interpreted and to highlight the most important hubs to get links from. (This functionality already exists to a certain extent with SEO Quake, a Firefox plugin similar to Aaron Wall’s SEO for Firefox.)

7. Filter for duplicates, geocities, and AOL member pages. This is because these links either don’t need to be repeated to you 10 times (the duplicates) or else they’re not significant/can’t be reproduced (short of gaining access to the AOL pages).

8. Filter for PageRank: pick what minimum level you want, dropping the rest. Set to 0 to ignore PageRank.

9. Order hubs by number of top competitors they link to (i.e. if a hub links to five of the top 10, it’s probably more important than one that just links to two of them).

10. Rank/order hubs further by commonality as a backlink in first 10, then commonality in first 20, then commonality in first 30. Again, the more it links to the top sites, the more likely it is to be important as well as obtainable.


Step 3: Figure out who to contact and what tips you can share on improving their sites so that they’re more receptive to your link request.

11. Scrape homepage content titles, broken links, coding errors from the top 100 hubs for the purpose of personalizing emails to their webmasters.
a. Alternative possibility or complimentary possibility is to take a screenshot.

12. Scrape email or contact page url off the top 100 hubs.

13. Scrape 500 words before and after any link to a competitor’s site to get an idea of the context in which a hub is linking to others.
a. Screenshots featuring the competitions’ links and the surrounding context would also be great.


Step 4: Output the data.

14) Return an excel sheet with the data.


The targets for this kind of linkbait? Check out Jim’s backlink list, for one. Once you’re done those 5000+ sources, Aaron’s tools subdomain (which gets its own Sitelinks!), can be another source of inspiration for link love. The SEOmoz tools’ backlinks can give you more ideas. I’m sure you can spot the pattern and find your own too.


3. SEO for Social Network Profiles


 Facebook made profile pages indexable, earlier this year. But all that they consist of is a picture, your name and a couple lines of text. If/when Facebook makes profiles fully indexable, this tool will be helpful for optimizing your profile page and Facebook activity generally.


Profiles on other sites like LinkedIn already show up in the SERPs, so this tool could potentially work across various networks.


This tool idea is more of an outline, but the functionality might be a good guideline for people working on this.


 (Photo of a Facebook group oriented towards a book on social software. Photo by hatichbombotar.)

1) Get keywords in important places. Consider the name of the profile, the about you sections and any in-network blog functionality.

2) Post content, tag friends in it (a la Facebook notes) and send trackbacks to sites independent of it.

3) Auto-include a signature in all your wallposts, messages and other communications and format the link’s anchor text etc. There already exists Facebook apps for this but it’s worth looking out

4) Auto-create groups around your company/product, including links to support forums and expert users’ pages.

5) Post highly visible calls-to-action in your profile.

6) Integrate with Facebook’s Ether App for consultations. (Premature until Facebook makes pages fully indexable by spiders; like I said they’re in a kinda funky, limited access form currently.)


On a related note, if marketing on Facebook interests you, you’ll probably like my Facebook advertising presentation from FacebookCamp Monteral, and Facebook posts generally.

Who do you get link love from with this one? Most social media marketers who use this will give credit where it’s due (a key notion in social media). Considering the love that social media gets on Sphinn and the easy ability for something like this to spread virally once it gets that initial distribution push, this one could be the mother load.


Idea 4 - Super Themed Categories WordPress Plugin Linkbait

Dan ThiesThe inspiration on this tool is a mixture of Dan Thies oldie but goodie SEO Fast Start and some pages by everyone’s favourite SEO Book writer, though it seems he’s since changed them/reverted to regular Wordpress category styles.

In SEO Fast Start, Dan Thies emphasizes search engines’ theme analysis (aka cluster analysis, if I understood the lingo). This is applied at the page level, amongst other levels. (I may be wrong on this, so do correct me if that’s the case.)

Archive and category pages can be very good fodder for this sort of algorithm, and so I thought of a layout that would likely do well as far as organizing contact in a thematic hierarchy.

 (Photo of Dan Thies at Search Engine Strategies.
Photo by
Matt McGee, Small Business SEM.)

Creating a WordPress (WP) category plugin to modify how category pages are displayed/laid out to follow this style would likely make them stronger with regards to thematic algorithms. Currently WP category pages listing excerpts (or full text), and link the title to post page.

The problem, for users, is that you get a page listing posts in reverse chronological order by date of creation. It would be a lot more useful to visitors if category pages listed posts according to popularity, like a SERP (search engine results page). The popularity could be link-based with a manual override available to the site owner.

Here’s the template (with code notes) that I propose for these super-category pages. Coding a Wordpress plugin that makes these automatically and which you then distribute for free would be massive linkbait, particularly in the SEO blogger community.

Logo (unlinked for PR-sculpting reasons)

Category X Posts (H1)
10-20-30-40-50 posts (number of posts chosen by site owner) ordered by;

  • Most Popular
  • Most Important
  • Most Underappreciated
  • Or by comments/inbound links on the site/handselected) or whatever metric site owner wants


Only in Category X (H2)

  • Title of Post 1: Meta Description (22,2 journalism rule for descriptions.)
  • Related posts: Post 1 Post 5 (based on links in post to other posts in same category)
  • Post 2 Post 6 (each of these is a link, and yes, they are presented side by side, a la Sitelinks)
  • Post 3 Post 7
  • Post 4 Post 8
  • Title of Post 2: Meta Description
  • Related posts: Up to 8 posts


Also in: Category 2 (H2)

  • Title of Post 1: Meta Description (22,2 journalism rule for descriptions.)
  • Related posts: Post 1 Post 5 (based on links in post to other posts in same category), Post 2 Post 6 Post 3 Post 7 Post 4 Post 8Title of Post 2: Meta Description Related posts: Up to 8 posts Also in: Category 3 (H2)


Dave here (again) – and there we have it. I know jack about WordPress and so that last one was pretty much alien to me, but the others sure made for some tasty food for thought. Now, how about a little background on Gabs for the uninitiated? Ok..sure, why not… 

All About Gabriel – He currently runs SEO ROI and provides SEO Consulting Services specializing in search engine reputation management .

His guest-posting adventures include posts on reputation management 101, tips on linkbait,directories as destinations as well as an article on Network Solutions SEO

On his own blog ( SEO ROI), he told me that he is proudest of his post on; Cloning expired sites that are still in the Yahoo directory. In his free time he apparently likes to eat the amazing cookies his sister bakes and learn new marketing tactics and ideas (a strange Mixx to be certain). For more of his live action adventures; subscribe to his RSS feed.

..and Gabs? Thanks a ton for dropping by to play, it has been a blast!


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