Cartoon Barry asks the question: How much is link bait worth?
Is there a simple equation?
PR6 = $400 per link, PR2 = $25 per link. Link lifetime value = 6
months on average? High trafficked sites that link to you generate
links from other high trafficked sources and even more smaller
Then you have to look at the content/tools that bring in one time
links versus repetitive links over time. And then does that require
additional work (more content, maintenance of tool, etc.) or not?
In my experience, link baiting gives the highest ROI of any type of marketing method. Ignoring the value of the traffic you get out link bait (which usually converts much worse than organic search traffic), you get permanent links.
Of course, there’s no precise way to measure the value of a permanent link, but we all know they’re necessary — they’re the lifeblood of organic SEO. Starting point: if you valuate a (quality) permanent link at 12 times what you’d pay per month for it at a link broker, and if you assume the cheapest (quality) link you can get at a link broker is $25 / month, then a permanent link is worth $300 based on opportunity costs. And this ignores other factors which probably increase the value of the permanent link — such as the fact that it’s in the ‘content block’ of the page. And of course, that’s the minimum: if your link bait gets linked from a PR7 authority news site or blog, it would be a much higher cost per month to replace it with an equivalent rented link. Oh, and let’s not forget — the best link baits will get hundreds of links.
Then why don’t more people link bait? Why is it (seemingly) the least popular method of link building? (Well, that’s the impression I get from browsing the link building forums at WMW and DP.)
I think the answer is that, well, I guess my statement that "link baiting gives the highest ROI…" is misleading. It gives the highest ROI on a dollar-cost basis. But the main ingredients of link bait are time and ideas–both of which are very precious resources to webmasters & entrepreneurs.
Weighed against 2 hours spent brainstorming, 4 hours spent writing, another hour editing, etc., $299 recurring for the Yahoo! Directory link doesn’t seem so expensive anymore, does it?
In the end, I still love link baiting (obviously), but I think it’s a more appropriate tactic for some webmasters than others. If you have a surplus of time and ideas, then yes, you ought to spend a lot of them on link baiting.
And if you don’t have excess time or ideas? Time to think about hiring that fulltime link baiter (and watch the long term value of your site skyrocket).