Diary of a link builder (2) – Link Bait, Videos and Crème Brûlée

Attending SMX London earlier this month provided an excellent opportunity to meet and hear the thoughts of many of the large/ small companies and freelancers of the search marketing community but it was only a shame it didn’t continue for a third day in order to attend all of the tracks that clashed with those I attended.

But even so, the seminars and informal networking in between oozed excellent advice and examples of outstanding search marketing campaigns, particularly from the larger firms whose clients include those as big as Cadbury’s. As with managing any budget the skills resides in scaling down these often ‘big’ ideas to something workable for the SME client and related budget.

After the two day event, I left inspired, and perhaps a few pounds heavier from the second helping of Crème Brûlée but I was again faced with the predicament of ‘building links’.

Whilst web 1.0 methods of generating relevant links (“hey, can I have a link on your site”) will only get your campaign so far, there is increasing scope to harness more creative methods of generating brand awareness, backlinks and traffic – which, surprisingly, can be achieved on a budget.

But what do I mean?

Well, for this post, I want to explore link bait, which Jim Westergren defines rather simply as creating “something that naturally attract backlinks for your web page by getting people to talk about it…. In addition to attracting a lot of visitors”.
Successful link baiting campaigns can therefore assist in brand awareness in addition to strategies of differentiation presented by the richer top level multimedia search results of Google’s Universal Search.

Comprehensively exploring each link baiting strategy is not something I will carry our in this entry, but instead I will focus solely upon video content – which is but one of the many tools at ones disposal.

Viewing examples of existing video content provides an excellent method of establishing the wide range of videos formats to inspire you when creating your video content.

Creating a video product review:
This product review with details of price, what’s included and where to buy is an excellent example of harnessing video content to increase sales of your products.

Interesting and useful content:
Thought provoking and interesting videos like this one about global warming scream out to be shared, blogged about and commented on. These videos might also include high quality interviews or research within your subject area.

Funny Viral Videos:

Viral videos, ranging from Mentos and Coke and the numerous follow up spoofs needn’t cost the earth to produce, and if you are not creative enough to develop a new idea, why not borrow or tweak an existing idea?

Including these examples:

Using humour to get the message across is an excellent way of keeping the user engaged.

Downloading and remixing existing content is an excellent approach. This example sees 1980’s Horror ‘The Shining’ remixed as a family friendly love story.

Or this video, which rips off the original Sony Bravia advert, to excellent effect.

But creating a good video isn’t enough to guarantee success – and requires further promotion, be it organically through word of mouth or coordinated within existing marketing efforts including press release submission, networking with influential bloggers and posting on targetted forums for example. This is of course not to mention where the video itself is going to be hosted, which I will get onto shortly.

As more and more people jump on the link bait bandwagon it’s becoming increasingly difficult to promote traditional link bait over larger budget campaigns and with Internet users becoming more savy as to what’s entertaining and what’s simply an unsolicited infiltration of ‘their’ online spaces, care is needed in not only what is created by how it is presented.

Now obviously how you present your video is dependent on the objectives of the campaign. For example, is it simply a branding exercise and if so, why not upload the video to the major video sharing websites including Blinkx and YouTube along with a keyword researched title, description and tags before continuing your promotion.

If you however, wish to build backlinks to the core company domain or traffic to your website then you might wish to upload the video to the core domain, paying particular attention to the fundamentals of your ‘on the page’ optimisation including:

– Page titles
– Meta Tags
– Meta Description
– Alt attributes
– Page copy
– Video properties (author, copyright, description etc)

In addition, ensure you don’t orphan off the video by launching it in a Javascript popup player, instead embed it in both Flash and Quicktime player formats to ensure as many users can access it as possible.

But before you turn the green light on the video, ask yourself whether it fits in with the culture of the organisation and whether users (made up of bloggers, webmasters and forum users) will want to link to CorporateUrl.com/funnyvideo.com from their web space?

To overcome this, you might consider creating a custom domain solely for the purpose of the video, an example being http://www.willitblend.com/ (which Ciaran Norris featured in his excellent SMX presentation) as users will probably feel more comfortable linking to you on this custom site rather than its ‘corporate’ big brother. Once the video has generated some traffic and backlinks you can always 301 redirect the custom domain to a new page of your corporate site.

Creating a concept:
If social spaces are to be social and existing viral content is either informative, thought provoking or hilarious then don’t forget to use these rules to your full advantage. In these spaces there isn’t a great deal of room for blatant business and sales, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get a message across.
Now, whilst I mentioned about keeping the video on an external domain, you might also consider creating the video external to the business, for example in the eyes of a customer, a new staff member or perhaps something unrelated altogether… think about the Cadbury drumming Gorilla advert?

The best strategy for increasing the exposure of your video:

Harnessing the major video sharing engines including YouTube and Blinkx is an excellent method of generating exposure to your video, but pay particular attention to your keyword research when selecting the title, description and tags for your video.

In addition, if you want to create traffic and backlinks to your website (or wherever you have hosted the video outside of YouTube) then why not only upload a short clip or trailer o
f your video to sites like YouTube along with the location URL of your full video so that users can view the full video or ‘find out more’.

In short, the aim of the trailer seeks to excite the user to find out more and, like a traditional trailer, should not give the punch line away.

In conclusion:
Creating video content doesn’t have to cost the earth, but, if executed properly, it can potentially lead to increased levels of traffic, brand exposure and backlinks. In the age of increasing social networking and indeed social time on the web it’s certainly not a tool to ignore, but that’s not to say it is suitable for every business.

Although not a marketers himself I think Charles Darwin provides an excellent point to conclude this post when considering exploiting new tools in marketing for the SME client in that:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

For further information on the subject: be sure to check out:

1. searchenginejournal.com
2. doshdosh.com
3. logodesignworks.com
4. toprankblog.com

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