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Friday, March 03, 2006


Organic SEO: Blogs cast the link bait

Organic SEO is one of the latest in search engine optimization buzzwords. It might be a fashionable phrase in SEO circles, but the concept is as old (if you can call it that) as the internet itself. To use another SEO buzzword, we're talking link bait. In essence, it's all about the web page's content, and how it attracts natural inbound links.

Ah, now I've gone and spoiled some perfectly good SEO jargon for you. By the way, if you're like me, your preference is to take those obscuring technical terms, and turn their purposely hidden concepts, into easily understandable ideas. I like to take the fun out of the obscurity crowd. Spoiling a party that's for just the cool kids is fun, in an off centre kind of way.

Anyway, back to organic search, and content, and links, and all that good stuff.

In the early days of the internet, not many people worried about search engine rankings all that much. The now ubiquitous Google was still years away from your desktop search yearnings. For the old schoolers, the way to get noticed was by surfing the net from site to site. The ties that bound those websites together were links.

If a site offered interesting and informative content, another website owner would create a link to the page. While seemingly an old and slightly rusty concept at first glance, the modern form of organic SEO was born. It's still with us today all dressed up in new clothes as link bait. It's still the same old thing in a new jargon coated wrapper.

Search engines including Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, and Ask reward good content that attracts one way inbound links. It has always been that way. The only changes have been in the levels of emphasis.

Currently, the best inbound links are one way links, from traditional sites and blogs, that share the same theme as your blog. In other words, your blog about elephants will benefit more from a link from another elephant blog, than with a link from a blog about carrots. That's not to say that the carrot blog link won't provide some earch engine ranking push. The value received simply won't match the benefit from the theme related elephant blog link. That was easy, now wasn't it?

For gaining those coveted theme related incoming links, you must provide interesting and informative content. That's what is meant by the trendy term of link bait. Think of a great post as a fishing lure out to catch the big one. If you thrown an old boot over the side of your boat, you might catch a fish after several weeks. Use the correct bait, and the fish will bite all day long, providing you with plenty of dinner. It's like that with blog posts. No one is going to link to anything that's of no value to anyone.

To get even more benefit from your blog posts, place a keyword phrase in the title. Since the title of the post is often quoted, those keywords will appear on the clickable link line of the inbound link over at the sending blog. Search engines like that sort of thing. Be sure to use the same keywords a few times in your post as well. For organic SEO, it's very helpful in classification of the content for the benefit of the search engines. It lines things up nice and pretty for their computer ranking calculations. You don't want to disappoint them.

You also make things handier and easier to understand for your readers. After all, the best link bait for organic SEO purposes, is to provide posts that people will actually want to read and recommend to others. The recommendation of your blog arrives in the form of one way inbound links. Bloggers are free and generous linkers, who link happily to their favourite posts. For organic SEO, that blog spirit of information sharing, reminiscent of the early internet days, places blogs several steps ahead in the search engine rankings.

Everything that's old is new again.

Providing great blog posting content as link bait makes organic SEO a natural outcome of your blogging efforts. Organic SEO power is yet one more great reason to start and maintain a business blog.

There you have it: technical SEO jargon made simple.

Now you can rest easy.

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Thanks for that post Wayne.

I am so happy to see search technology (Google’s at least) getting to the point where, as you said, everything that’s old is new again. After years of link spamming, people are actually finding out that they can get somewhere in the rankings by creating something good, not tricky.

Link bait is the kind of thing that both search optimizers and search engines can rally around – and that is good for everyone.

Long live link bait!
Hi James. Link bait is simply providing good interesting and informative content that other people want to share with their readers via a link. There is nothing tricky about it, as you say. Sharing great content is rewarded with inbound links, and in turn, the page is rewarded with high search engine rankings that last. That's a great lesson for those who think they can trick their way to the top of the search engines.
Interesting post, but I'm not sure it's well-focused. Essentially, you're suggesting we market to search engines. It doesn't get much more anonymous than that. If you study the ecotraffic page at The Truth Laid Bear, you will see that blog traffic falls of exponentially with Kos, Instapundit and the other heavyweights getting hundreds of thousands of hits a day while the average blog gets hundreds or tens of hits a day.

With some simplifying assumptions, marketing to a search engine distributes the chance of a link uniformly across the blogosphere. That means I have as much chance of getting a link from Meowza at The Mind of Mog as I do Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters. The payoff, however, is orders of magnitude different.

Given a limited amount of time for blogging and market research, it would seem more useful to study blogging habits and link-following statistics to focus your marketing than it does studying search engine technology. My own blog gets hits from search engines, but that represents about 1% of my total hits and has very little staying power.

Check out my Carnival of the Capitalists post this week on the K Factor. Search engine hits have a tiny K factor. I've gotten many search engine hits on my post about Pappy Boyington, but almost no one stuck around to read more. When I got a link from Ace of Spades blog, I got many return visits. I had to market directly to Ace of Spades.

I'm sorry if this comment seems critical, but it's a subject that I find fascinating. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.
Hi KT Cat. Thanks for your comments and I definitely don't mind critical comments on my postings. This post is part of the SEO portion of my blog, and as such is a mere snapshot of the overall content. My focus for SEO is to provide good content that invites links, and gets higher search engine rankings. Many of my readers seek the information for their blogs and websites.

You will also note from my other posts that I also recommend writing interesting and informative posts that keep visitors returning. Many of my regular readers found my blog as a result of a search for information. While there are some temporary and mirage like visitors, people will return again and again to blogs (like yours) that provide information of interest to them.

One factor in SEO that your comment triggered for me is a very neglected area of the topic. SEO takes time and patience. In today's society, people want and expect instant gratification. SEO is a longer process, often taking months to see any real and substantial results. It very often takes that long for the new links to be acquired and for them to pass through and fresh link filters.

SEO is a process. You simply can't just wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll do some SEO today", and expect any lasting results.
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