If you’ve been around the inbound marketing or SEO industry at all then you’ve probably heard of these two terms, link baiting and evergreen content. Link baiting is the hip, new kid on the block and is easily compared to the hit single by Los Del Rio, The Macarena which garnered international fame but did little for the band in the long run. Evergreen content, on the other hand, is slow and steady and is better compared to Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone which has influenced modern music for decades. While I cringe to mention Los Del Rio and Mr. Zimmerman in the same paragraph, the metaphor works. Both songs have been listened to countless times and have (arguably) cultural significance, so which one is better? Well music critics will disagree, but the answer largely depends on the audience you’re referencing.
Link Baiting and When It’s Okay to Dance
While few people can sing along correctly, everyone knows the dance and main lyrics to The Macarena. However, few people want to hear it all day on repeat and those people don’t have many friends. If you’re employing link baiting strategies like producing infographics, creating videos, or staying on top of breaking news as part of your link building techniques, you don’t want to overdo it. The purpose of link baiting, at its core, is to hopefully go viral. You want to produce something so catchy that people can’t help but link it and sing along, but what if your second album flops? You had a big boost in traffic for a few months maybe, but now you’re back to square one.
This is where Like a Rolling Stone comes in. It wasn’t Dylan’s first hit and it wasn’t his last, but it was one of his biggest and it shaped the musical world. Musicians and critics still reference it, and if it was a website it would still be generating links just by being there. If this sounds like an awful lot like “long term link baiting,” then you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Evergreen content shouldn’t be a flash in the pan but should be a resource that stands the test of time and stays in public demand.
Not Mutually Exclusive
I apologize for the misleading title, but too many people think that evergreen content and link baiting are mutually exclusive and arguments arise over nothing. In reality, the best link baiting strategy largely depends on what you want to do. If you’re link building for the long term then you’ll want to focus on producing on site evergreen content that can build links naturally over an extended period of time. If you’re a news focused site or something similar then you’ll want to drive traffic with short term link baiting strategies.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone. Staying relevant and referenced for years to come will boost traffic steadily and will usually provide more total traffic, albeit over a much longer period of time. The exception to the rule is when something goes truly viral and gets shared millions of times. A good example of this is Dollar Shave Club’s YouTube ad that pushed so much traffic towards the site that it crashed the servers. Of course it is impossible to make something go viral and you can only hope and pray, so I advise staying away from a heavy link baiting strategy.
About the Author
Thomas McMahon writes on the topics of link building, white hat SEO, and canoe carving. He currently works for Page One Power, a link building company focused on relevancy first results.