The latest language to come out from the SEO (search engine optimization) geeks, are things like 'whitehat' and 'blackhat' (right and wrong ways to accomplish the goal of great rankings in Google, and 'Link Fishing' or 'Linkbaiting' which I will talk about a little more in detail later in this article.
Firstly - Whitehat vs Blackhat?
From the good old 'wild west' through until today, the terms Whitehat and Blackhat have endured through generations. The good cowboy in the western movies always wore a 'white hat', while the baddies always wore a 'blackhat'. This is where the latest SEO terms have originated (I would've thought the geeks would've come up with something to reference Star Wars).
Anyway, as any serious traffic seeker can attest, blackhat techniques will always ultimately lead to very bad consequences that will usually defeat the purpose of all the (sort of) hard work that has one in to their optimization.
It is very possible to get into the top of the Google search results and effectively increase to a very high page rank using blackhat SEO techniques, any profits will always only be short-lived, because Google has come up with very creative ways to these underhanded SEO activities (and quite rapidly these days). If you are caught by Google to be using blackhat SEO techniques, it is highly likely that your web page or site will be removed permanently from the search engine and all subsequent crawls. This article is not to focus on these techniques (which I do not wish to even mention by name or reference, lest I get in trouble from Google myself for encouraging poor SEO bahaviour), but to outline the latest 'Google-recommended whitehat' techniques for increasing your page rank and site popularity legitimately.
How Google Determines Where Websites Should Rank In Its Search Index
Everybody knows that the most important way to increase our ranking and position in Google searches, is to increase the number of (quality) links pointing to our sites and pages. The concept of Link Popularity is what defines one of the primary ingredients of the infamous 'Google algorithm'.
Google lets other people determine the value of a web page. The way that Google does this, is to decide how many people support a web page by counting how many other web pages point to the particular ranked web page.
So how do we succeed in this effort, and what has Google done to stop the 'baddies' cornering the search engine rankings by manipulating the complicated Google algorithm?.
Once upon a time, 'keyword stuffing' was very popular - this technique is now dead. 'Link Farms' were among the first SEO created tools that Google wiped out. Hidden text on a web page was wiped out. Believe it or not, 'Link Exchanges' are now dead and buried (but how many of us still subscribe to this practive out of habit?). In 2007, most link directories lost their rankings and value for linking to other websites. And In 2007, even paid links also began losing the battle and are now very much a thing of the past (TIP: SAVE YOUR MONEY).
In Google's own language, they state that all these old SEO techniques 'are dead to us.'
Google's Latest Recommendation for Increases Popularity and Page Ranking: Fish For Links!
The concept of Fishing for Links or 'Link Baiting' is really simple - creating content that people will want to set up links to. (wow - there's one for the Oxford Scholars!!)
The challenge now is to create content and tools that people want to link their websites to (Link Bait) and to create content that people actually want to publish on other sites.
"When Google decides that a particular article has value to the Internet community, then Google will count many of those links to your website. Google of course will not count all of the links to your website from the web pages hosting your articles, but they will count many of those links as legitimate links." (thephantomwriters.com)
Let's Go Fishing...
There are many ways to create 'linkbait' to 'catch' the link fish, such as alot of very hard work generating data and manipulating to make interesting, to finding some creative juice to engage the masses. Another very obvious (but still powerful) way, is to write something very controversial whether you actually believe in the subject matter or not (this will maybe sometimes test a person's deep moral fibre - but hey, a link's a link right??!!).
The Following Example Of 'Linkbaiting' Are Quoted From Matt Cutts' Blog (Google):
Thankyou to Matt Cutts for the following, cited verbatim and with links in their entirety:
Example 1: Danny Sullivan actually sat down and checked the spam filtering accuracy of SpamCop, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail. And not once or twice, but three different times. Personally, counting false positives in your Spam folder would annoy me to death, but putting in that work generates insights on the differences between the competing services. Admittedly, the results will vary by individual, but as the great Fred Brooks would remark, often some data is better than no data at all. Now Danny doesn’t need any more links than he already has, but it’s producing info-laden content that makes a site or blog well-known over time.
Example 2: You can be creative. I’m happy to link to Marc Hil Macalua for a creative app that he wrote in which you can vote on head-to-head battles between SEOs. The Ning service attempts to make it easy for people to write social web apps, so this is a really easy app to create: just drop in your own photos and you’re good to go. Now did Marc do a ton of work? Well, a little bit, but not a ton. But he had that creative insight of something that would grab people’s attention and generate discussion. By the way, it looks like someone is click-spamming on DaveN’s behalf.
Example 3: Saying something controversial. You can be cheeky, like Threadwatch, or you can be incredibly earnest. I give the creator of Google Watch credit for staking out the “anti-Google” territory way before anyone else. Later, Andrew Orlowski probably realized that taking potshots at Google or blogs was a way to generate lots of discussion. By the time it trickles down to sites like FuckedGoogle or whatever, it gets to be “done”–that niche is starting to be tapped out. So how do you take a new approach?
Example 4: Back to something creative: the Google: Evil or Not? site. The site takes RSS feeds that mention Google, lets people vote between Real Good or Real Evil, and adds a graph. It took a little bit of work, but probably not a ton. How much work would it be to extend that to another subject, like graphing the mojo levels at the Yahooplex as it waxes or wanes?
End of Examples...
In summary, whether or not the term 'linkbaiting' is attractive, or 'link fishing' sounds like some sort of hacking technique, these are the most powerful of the 'whitehat' SEO techniques available today, and strongly encouraged and endorsed by Google. Finally, although it is tempting to perhaps always write controversial content to try and get people's 'tounges wagging' and increase link popularity, it will only work some of the time... sooner or later, people will get sick of the same person using the same techinique, and credibility is a little jeapordized as a result... the answer: 'mix it up', try different recipes of the above techniques and examples... and yes, work a little hard and be a little creative...