Does linkbait have to be black hat?

Does linkbait have to be black hat? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: Someone sent in a really interesting question that says, “Does Linkbait have to be Black-Hat?” And of course the answer is no. There’s plenty of White-Hat ways to make really interesting Linkbait, because Linkbait is just something that people want to link to. So, an example can be resource, open source software, a good service, something that’s got a–a gimmick or a hook that people really like. So they share it with their friends. So, I wanted to share one example of White-Hat Linkbait that I had seen recently that was really interesting. There’s a site called Dolores Labs, and what they work on, is trying to use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in some interesting ways. So, for example, they took the top 200 people on Twitter, and these were a little while ago. So, I don’t know if they got Ashton Kutcher and CNN and all that, but you know, Barack Obama, Kevin Rose, they got me on the list, Guy Kawasaki. And they said, “Okay, on Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, we’re going to give, you know, each person some of his recent Twits, you know, what are the Twits that this person is doing on Twitter. And give me five adjectives to describe this person. And it’s really pretty interesting. So, for example, you know, for Matt Cutts, I think it was like, several different things, snore, programmer, knowledgeable and cute. So, I’ll sort of take the cute to cancel out the snore. My guess is my avatar; I had a picture of my cat, so they might be talking about my cat when they say cute. But it’s really pretty interesting, because you know, someone like Jason Calacanis was techie, sickly, hopeful, intelligent, whereas Barack Obama was president, winner, Democrat, bore. And so there’s all sorts of, you know, like really fun things. Where people pay these people on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, to say, okay, tell me about these top twitterers? Now, as far as Linkbait goes, this is really addictive, right? Because, how can you not be interested in this, if somebody is talking about you and what are you like. Guess how much they spent on this? They said it was about $25, so you know, all these people who are like, you have to go buy links, you have to go and spend a ton of money on viral conversations. Now, sometimes it’s as simple as just coming up with a really creative hook, and in this case they found a way to engage the community, they found a way to even, you know, sort of judge whether someone was smarter or dumber or more entertaining or less entertaining. So, for example, I was listed as very smart but really not all that entertaining. It’s kind of fun to just look through and it’s very addictive to talk about who are the top people on Twitter and what are they like. A very simple example, don’t just say, okay, now, I’m going to go to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and ask people to rate the top twitterers and, you know, give adjectives, because now that’s been done. But if you come up with your own creative idea, you can often fund that idea for a very little money. Come up with something that people want to link to, add to the conversation on the Web, not just, you know, repurpose or republish or rehash old ideas or old opinions and give something that people get excited about and that’s the sort of way that you can really attract links.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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