We see a lot of generalized link building articles with out there with titles like “Tips and Tricks” or “Top 5 Ways to…”. We wanted to get a bit more specific and hear from our customers about how they operate in their vertical. We feel context is key to understanding and developing effective link building tactics. Brian Ratzker (@ratzker) of GourmetGiftBaskets.com walks us through a few strategies they’ve recently employed. Brian is a BuzzStream customer and the Online Marketing Manager for GourmetGiftBaskets.com, home to award winning gift baskets, fruit baskets and much more! He is also the personality behind GourmetGiftBaskets.com on Twitter and Facebook.
Linkbaiting is a method of attracting incoming links to your website through a creative endeavor. Attracting links can be very difficult and the strategies discussed in many articles and blog posts don’t usually make sense for a retail website. The most successful methods are usually the most creative and not only make your company stand out from your competition but also from everyone else trying to get noticed on regular basis. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to come up with an astronomically crazy idea in order to be successful. There are many tried and true methods of Linkbaiting that can work for your retail website.
At GourmetGiftBaskets.com, we have dabbled in the astronomical as well as the tried and true. One of the best ways a retail website can attract links is through brand loyalty. Unfortunately, in the Gift Baskets industry our customers don’t normally buy our products for themselves, which makes it difficult to create brand loyalty. Therefore, we need to be extra creative and below are some of the ways we are Linkbaiting.
The Astronomical – On August 15th, 2009, we broke the Guinness Book of World Records record for the World’s Largest Cupcake. We documented the whole process on our website, hired a PR firm for the event and promoted it on Facebook and Twitter. This was definitely a big endeavor that attracted a lot of attention, especially from mainstream media.
The Blog Basket – We are regularly writing blog posts that our customers and fans might find interesting, such as 148 Margarita Recipes to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We don’t plan on using our blog as a sales tool but a way to connect with our customers on a personal level and hopefully drive some traffic from long tail keywords in the search engines. If one of our posts goes viral and attracts a ton of links that would be great but we certainly aren’t counting on that.
Social Media – We are very active on Facebook and Twitter and believe these channels can have a tremendous impact on our business. We give away Gift Baskets on a weekly basis on both websites to build followers and create brand awareness. We also try to post links to articles that our followers might find interesting as well as find ways to interact with our fans. During Easter, we created a fun quiz on Facebook, “What Easter Candy Are You?”, which attracted a lot of attention.
Blogger Outreach – There are many Bloggers that are more than willing to accept free gifts to review products on their Blog and provide giveaways for their readers. The Linkbaiting value of this strategy doesn’t necessarily come from the links that are posted in these reviews but from the audience that participates in these contests and the increase in brand recognition. We predominantly use these reviews to increase our followers on Twitter and Facebook. Just make sure the Bloggers disclose that they didn’t pay for the donated product and give them the leeway to write what they really think.
Besides copying the tactics we are utilizing, I suggest you do research on Linkbaiting and try to find methods that will work for you. There were articles and blog posts that certainly helped me brainstorm ideas, such as Linkbaiting Hooks and How to Write a Blog Post. Another piece of important advice when you’re conducting your research, read the comments. Comments in blog posts can provide some of the best ideas and unfortunately some of the worst but that’s just how research goes.
Remember, Linkbaiting is about attracting links but don’t forget that it also needs to be about building your brand and attracting new business. In most cases, the links you acquire should just be the icing on the cake and not necessarily your primary focus. Effective Linkbaiting also requires a tremendous amount of effort and dedication of resources; you need to make sure you’re getting an adequate return on this investment.