Social Media Epic Fail: How to Build Links to Linkbaits That Don’t Go Viral

Epic Fail

Linkbait is widely regarded by many SEOs as the premier weapon in their quiver of marketing and promotional tools, and justifiably so. When linkbait is successful it can be incredibly powerful, driving an initial spike in (arguably entirely useless) traffic and links, followed by a long and steady stream of backlinks.

That’s the best case scenario. But what happens when your linkbait just doesn’t cut it? Digg, which is the granddaddy of social media sites, is where most linkbait gets peddled. Digg is also subject to random system maintenance and drastic algorithmic changes. Other popular social media sites such as Reddit and StumbleUpon can also be hit and miss: what works one day might have no hope the next.

Of course, it isn’t all dependent on where you distribute your linkbait. It may well be the case that your ‘101 Reasons For Choosing Acme Exhaust Manifolds’ just doesn’t appeal to the crowd and is destined to fail, even if it does get 275 diggs and all manner of thumbs up.

So what if this is where you find yourself? What should you do if your linkbait, on which your client has spent good money and you’ve invested copious amounts of time, goes nowhere? Well, for what it’s worth, here’s what I would do.

Don’t Get Angry
It’s very tempting to lose it when you’ve been pimping every living person in your sphere of influence for the past day only to be greeted by that all-too-familiar ‘Out Of Service’ screen. It is infuriating that after 300 diggs, some of which may even be natural, to get buried. However, this is not the time to start ranting and raving. Instead, take a break from pushing your linkbait and do something else. You’re a link ninja, and ninja’s think laterally around problems.

All too often marketers pin all their hopes and aspirations for a linkbait on a single site: Digg. This is not prudent. If your linkbait has failed on Digg, then learn this lesson and learn it well! Believe it or not there are other social media sites like Youtube where you can spam push your quality and relevant content. promoting your youtube video for more likes is nothing shameful, and everyone does it without much thought. Check out this handy list of 10 alternatives. ;)

Hit Up Your Contacts
If you’ve been pushing linkbait then you probably have quite a few people on IM, some of which own blogs that may be relevant. If this is the case then it is well worth taking the time to introduce them to your linkbait and beg for a link, even if it’s in a link roundup.

Contact Relevant Blogs
You should really be doing this anyway as part of a diversified link building campaign. Start searching for blogs relevant to your linkbait and tipping them off about it. For larger blogs it may be worth getting a colleague or friend to also email them to make this seem like a more popular article.

Make Sure You Email Companies & People Cited In Your Linkbait!
This is often completely ignored, but can score you some really good links. If you have a linkbait that, for example, compares 10 companies in your niche, then get in touch with their marketing department and inform them about it. Of course there will be companies who just will not link out, but on the other hand there are many big brands who will.

Consult Your Log Files
There’s gold in them there logs! It’s easy to bury your head in Google Analytics studying charts and miss out on the real good stuff. Take a look at referring sites over the last few months and see who has historically been sending you traffic, then contact them.

Create A List Of Distribution Nodes
Linkbait is a tricky thing to master, and even the best social marketers go through dry spells. I maintain a list of sites that I like to call ‘Secondary Distribution Nodes’. These are sites with large followings that send traffic and also generate backlinks. In drawing up your list it is a good idea to classify what each site covers, how much traffic they send and whether they provide a direct link or not. Sometimes you’ll come across sites that will link to you via a redirect, but that won’t matter because simply being featured means others in your niche can see your content and link to it.

Critical to creating and maintaining a good list, in my opinion, is teaming up with other trusted friends. You may have a definitive list of ‘Secondary Distribution Nodes’ in the sports niche, but your friends may be able to contribute to the list by providing details on highly popular sites in other niches. You can then use this to create linkbait with a hook specific to a niche, then push it on a wider range of ‘Secondary Distribution Nodes’.

Start Forum Discussions
Blogs aren’t the only place where you can get good oneway links, build authority and increase brand awareness. For some reason we as a community seem to have turned our backs on the forum, which are still a thriving way to discuss events, products and current affairs in many niches. If you have admin access at a relevant forum, or know an admin, then it may be possible to create a sticky thread and reference your linkbait to drive traffic and links.

Promotion Via Guest Posts
They’re a little overlooked but can be immensely powerful. The humble guest post is another way to build authority through oneway links with highly targeted anchor text, which, crucially, you can control.

Inclusion In Newsletters
Email marketing is massively powerful. There have been instances in the past where I’ve had a linkbait mentioned in a newsletter that sent tens of thousands of visitors and generated more links than you could shake a big stick at. Don’t pass it up!

This should be your last resort: resubmission, especially to Digg, is a risky endeavour and you may get your domain flagged for spam. To resubmit, you could change the URL of the linkbait or add a suffix to an existing URL such as ‘&ref=RSS’. With Reddit you can delete a submission and then resubmit at a later date, giving you another throw of the dice.

As you can see, just because a linkbait falls at the first hurdle doesn’t mean it is dead in the water. There are many, many ways that you can build links to a linkbait. All it takes is some time and effort!


#1 Link Building Blog on 09.02.08 at 9:08 pm

Great post Andy! I really agree with you on the point of letting companies know you’ve written/mentioned them in your media. A lot of companies have media sections where they’ll link to blog posts and articles. It’s a great way to get a ton of auth links!

#2 This Week In Link Building September 02 | Welcome To Linkbuildr on 09.02.08 at 9:25 pm

[…] Boyd of Setfire Media has written a must read article on How To Build Links To Linkbaits That Don’t Go Viral. He touches on so many different methods on how to still make you or your clients linkbait be worth […]

#3 Marco on 09.03.08 at 5:07 pm

Great article! Thanks.
I appreciate this point “Consult Your Log Files”; it’s true, often we look stats but “miss out on the real good stuff”. True.
Thanks, Andy. :)

#4 SImon on 09.04.08 at 11:52 am

Thanks for the tips there. I really should start mailing other relevant bloggers and notify them about my recent headline linkbait I guess.

#5 Link Building this Week (36.2008) | on 09.05.08 at 3:28 pm

[…] Andy Boyd points out how you can build links to linkbaits that don’t go viral […]

#6 Link Building this Week (36.2008) | De Linkbouwers on 09.05.08 at 4:51 pm

[…] Andy Boyd points out how you can build links to linkbaits that don’t go viral […]

#7 The Weekly Insider 9-2-08 to 9-5-08 on 09.05.08 at 9:09 pm

[…] Social Media Epic Fail: How To Build Links To Linkbaits That Don’t Go Viral […]

#8 Sphinn Weekly - Week 9 | The Sphinn Blog on 09.09.08 at 8:33 am

[…] 2nd September – How To Build Links To Linkbaits That Don’t Go Viral (jasongreen) This post by Andy Boyd looks at what to do when your linkbait isn’t the instant success that you thought it would be, including how to rescue campaigns before they die and what you can do even after they’ve been buried in the graveyard of Digg. Direct Link: Set Fire Media […]

#9 Intermediate SEO Learner on 09.10.08 at 5:45 am

Good article on link building with the clever title: “If your link bait doesn’t go viral”. I don’t know about others, but my experience is that NONE of my linkbait goes viral. My link building is all of this mundane type. Although, I don’t think I’ve ever “begged” for links. I did tell some of my vendors that they had to provide links….

#10 Learning today on 09.10.08 at 6:13 am

The log files can be very rich. Especially if you have several sites in the same general area. I have one on Spelling and another in vocabulary. When I find a site that sends a lot of traffic to one, I try to get it to list the other one too.

BTW – my spelling site – – is a case of a linkbait concept that has grown totally out of control. It is the now the tail wagging the dog!

#11 Mike on 09.17.08 at 3:49 am

Very interesting i did not know about the
back links and how the social media works and I want to learn more i look forward to your next blog.

#12 September ‘08: Best Search/Marketing Posts on 10.01.08 at 9:02 am

[…] Andy Boyd/The Matchbox: Social Media Epic Fail: How To Build Links To Linkbaits That Don’t Go Viral […]

#13 Internet Marketing Watch 3 September 2008 : Affiliate Dragon on 12.08.08 at 11:43 pm

[…] Andy Boyd suggests ways you can build links to “linkbait” projects which fail to go viral. [Set Fire Media] […]

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