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Oct 28, 2008

Linkbaiting with Attack!

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Nick writes an interesting post on The Art of Linkbaiting or on getting other sites to link to your blog - a necessary part of building traffic on your blog (both in getting direct traffic from the links and in building search engine ranking). Nick writes:

‘In order to bait a link, you need a hook. Hooks come in variety of flavors, some of the more popular would include:

* News hook
* Contrary Hook
* Attack Hook
* Resource Hook
* Humour Hook’

He goes on later in the post to expand upon each of them - with some excellent advice. I’ve especially found the ‘resource’ and ‘news’ hooks to be very powerful in the building of my own blogs.

I would give a word of warning though with the ‘attack’ hook (and even the ‘contrary’ one).

Over my time of blogging I’ve noticed a lot of blogs attempt to build their profile through ‘contrary’ and ‘attack’ posts. The strategy can work well at getting attention of others in your niche if you write in this way in the short term - but in my experience this approach can have some pretty negative consequences if you’re not careful.

While it may well bring you links (both from those you attack and others in your niche) it can also bring down your own reputation unless you either:

• are a brilliant writer who knows what you’re talking about
• already have a profile and the respect of others in your niche
• have the ability to not only attack the weaknesses of others but the ability to provide positive and constructive alternatives

It is this last point that I feel is most crucial. It is pretty easy to attack another blogger’s opinions and ideas - but it’s another matter to provide an valid alternative. If you’re trying to build your profile in an industry the last thing you’ll want to be known as is ‘the grump’ who is always tearing down others and their ideas. When I look at most industry leaders I see that most of them tend to be visionary types who are often extreme optimists, dreamers and visionaries. While they have a healthy view of what doesn’t work in their industry they are always pushing the boundaries and are more known for what they’ve built than what they’ve torn down.

I think it’s very dangerous to build a blog solely upon a negative vibe. While a few bloggers do the angry cynical thing quite well - it’s difficult to build a popular and sustainable blog on this type of approach. I’ve seen quite a few of these blogs come and go and suspect that they don’t tend to last for one of two reasons (or some combination of the two).

Firstly I suspect that most people just don’t like to hang around with (in the long term) angry, negative and bitter people. I know people in real life like this and while I appreciate their honesty and ‘what you see is what you get’ type attitude I don’t gravitate towards them on a regular basis. Life’s too short to hang around with grumps. Most blog readers seem to get a bit over the negative approach of the attacking blogger if this is all they do and will move on.

Secondly I suspect that most bloggers themselves don’t have what it takes to always be negative. While the initial exhilaration of writing something that gets others stirred up and brings some traffic might be fun - I’m not sure how many people are wired in a way that allows them to always be negative and at the centre of controversy. Perhaps it’s just me - but I find even after 24 hours of getting into a ‘blog fight’ (I rarely allow myself to be drawn into one these days) I’m ready to move on to something else - I don’t like what it does to me and think it would take it’s toll on my emotional well being to be that way all the time.

So if you’re considering using the ‘attack hook’ approach to build your blog (and I do think there are valid times and places for these types of posts) I would always advise considering how to balance it. You might want to do this through providing a positive alternative, attempting to attack in a dialogical /conversational way with the one you’re critiquing or by balancing it with other posts of a more positive nature. I personally keep ‘attack’ posts to a minimum - they are something to season your blog with rather than dominate it with - but then again I’m constantly told I’m ‘too nice’ so what would I know?

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