Last week I was reading a few articles based around Seth Godin’s book Free Prize Inside. The book was written in 2004—seven years ago. But it’s amazing how when somebody has a really great idea, the idea stays relevant pretty well into the future…
If you’re not familiar with Godin’s book, a major point he makes is that innovation is actually cheaper than advertising. And why should anyone do something innovative instead of something average? I think Godin has the answer in his definition of “R”:
R is for Remarkable: A purple cow is remarkable, because it’s worth talking about. Not because you, the marketer said it was, but because I the consumer did. And in a world without effective, scalable advertising, remarkable products and services are the single best way to succeed.
You can read Godin’s complete alphabet of new words for new times. Some are “old” words that he redefines. Others are new words or phrases altogether, such as the Free Prize:
F is for the Free Prize: People often don’t buy the obvious or measured solution to their problem, they buy the extra, the bonus, the feeling and the story. The free prize is the layout of Google–the search results are the same, but the way the search feels is why you choose to search there. If engineers thought more about the free prize, we’d need fewer marketers.
Now, when I go to create link bait, I always keep Godin’s advice in mind, as I feel this concept is crucial for developing great link bait. By now, all of us SEOs have probably read about Google’s farming update announced last month. The goal of the algorithm update, if you’re not familiar, is for Google to display more high-quality sites in search, thus improving user experience. As search engines have been making active efforts to reward unique, engaging content, Godin’s strategy applies to our lives as SEOs more than ever: it’s becoming increasingly important that we offer users something remarkable.
A great way to provide original content is through the ever-steady SEO tactic: link bait.
Now, with link bait it’s easy to just throw a quiz up and call it a go. But is that quiz remarkable? Is that quiz something users will want to share with their friends and family? I mean, that’s the goal of link bait, right? You want to get people riled up to come to your site; you want to get people to Tweet about what you’re offering, blog about it, post it as their status update on Facebook.
A colleague and I came up with a Venn diagram yesterday (exciting, right?!). It’s obviously most important to consider your web site users when creating link bait, but we felt a good place to start was to ask ourselves: what does a piece of content need to have to be worthy of getting our attention? Sometimes it’s best to start with the basics.
We’re not guaranteeing that if your link bait meets all three categories’ criteria, you’ll end up with, what Godin would consider, remarkable link bait. But in today’s world, if you want to increase your chance for success you need to stand out. If your link bait is likeable, innovative, and relevant, there’s a pretty good chance it will stand out. Again, Godin sheds light on this topic:
Edgecraft is a methodical, measurable process that allows individuals and teams to inexorably identify the soft innovations that live on the edges of what already exists.
1. Find an Edge- a Free Prize that has been shown to make a product or service Remarkable.
2. Go all the way to that Edge- as far from the center as the consumers you are trying to reach dare you to go.
-You must go all the way to the Edge. Accepting second best doesn’t make sense. Running a restaurant where the Free Prize is your slightly attractive waitstaff won’t work- they’ve got to be supermodels or weight lifters or identical twins. You only create a Free Prize when you go all the way to the Edge and create something Remarkable.
I encourage you to go to the edge of your link bait ideas. Don’t settle for being average. (Learn more about Edgecraft and how to use it to help you discover and create ‘remarkable’ link bait).
Ultimately, as SEO professionals, we’re always striving to provide fresh, high-quality content. We feel the pressure of needing to keep up with that need. But I challenge you to go to the edge of your link bait idea…provide something remarkable…offer a purple cow. That’s worth sharing.
Abby is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.