I’ve spoken to several people recently who don’t know whether they should go down the link building or link baiting road.
I’m going to try and outline the strengths and weakness of both techniques in this article.
It can’t be disputed that good quality link building is fantastically effective, anchor text controlled link building really can’t be beaten in terms of creating effective results. However, there are some downsides to link begging, or buying links on old, trusted sites that will push your website right to the top of Google. Some of these negatives are well know and include: Getting busted by Google’s webspam team, which would put you back many months.
Secondly, the cost involved in finding and securing dozens of high quality links per month. Building unfiltered, permanent links on old trusted sites, that are in-content and look natural is damn hard and as I’ve just said, darn expensive too. Average link costs, taking into account time and link costs are between $125 – $350 per link. I’d like to reiterate that the effectiveness of well build links should not be overlooked, however, for long term strategy it should be approached with caution as Google is coming down on paid links like a ton of bricks.
Link Baiting is a fantastic method for building large volumes of links, an added bonus is that more often than not, you can pickup some links which would otherwise be almost unobtainable. Writing a credible piece may get you some links from an authoritative government or university website with tons of trust and thousands of it’s own backlinks.
Success is hard to measure with link baiting, however, it’s not unusual to build thousands of links in a single exercise. In terms of cost, successful projects may have a cost from 10 cents to $2 per link. This is obviously much better value for money that manual link buying, a well executed link bait is five to ten times cheaper than buying the equivalent number of good quality links.
The downsides are that you cannot control the anchor text (which impacts rankings you are desperate to obtain), and many of the links will come from blogs. This means PageRank rains down like manna from Gods and then the majority of it ebbs away as the posts are archived, you will retain some link equity though. Learning to link bait is not exactly easy though, and consistent success takes a long time to learn.
Link baiting done correctly is the most cost and time effective method for building links. Period. It has it’s downsides but those can be overcome with clever ideas”steering” the anchor text in the bait.
I think in the short term, its hard to make an impression in the short term without going out and finding at least a few links to get you going, with rules and guidelines changing, people are moving away from link buying and begging but it’s going to take a couple of years to see the effects.
I’d always suggest Social Media marketing for your long-term strategy though.