Why your web content production needs to establish an Edginess Index

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I create a lot of content for clients and run into the same issues over and over. One problem is that the kind of content that gets results has an edge to it, but the client usually does not want content that has an edge to it, they just want to sell stuff.

Nothing wrong with wanting to just sell stuff.

However, magnetic content, content that attracts tends to be edgy content.

For example, if you are a client in the niche of “home lighting”, I may suggest an article along the lines of “Top ten lighting rigs to power your Cannabis Farm“.

I probably wont, but I am using this extreme example to illustrate the point. Of course the article still has to be written in a certain style whcih attracts the social movers and shakers and linkerati, to be deemed a winner.

Most business people do not live in my weird and wonderful world of online content creation, and so do not understand why approaching content in a counter intuitive way is sometimes essential.

So, it’s useful if we have an Edginess Index.

This is to gauge how edgy to make the content on a scale of 1 to 10.

Here is my Edginess Index:

1 = Local Govt publications
2 = Local newspaper
3 = Beano
4 = 2000AD
5 = TV Quick
6 = Top Gear
7 = FHM
8 = Sun/ Daily Mail
9 = Nuts
10 = XXXXXXXXXXX

Note: This is for the UK market specifically.

1. The most anodyne, mundane, safe copy I have ever read is that of local government publications. The stuff that tells you how to put your rubbish out etc. Useful if you need to know how to put rubbish out.

2. Local newspapers tend to be written by numbers, local jumble sale info, cat stuck in tree, man buys pork pie etc. It’s safe, useful as it tells you what’s going on and interesting if your in your area someone who kidnaps cats and sells them to the local butcher to kill and put into sausages has just been arrested.

3. The Beano is a comic for 6 to 12 year olds, although I still read it occasionally and enjoy it. The tone of the content is child friendly but fun. It’s a little mischievous with kids getting into scrapes and high jinx, it’s no Horrid Henry but it definitely appeals to the rebel in every child. In a way, it resonates wrong doing but in a way that a child can understand.

Most web content tries to get to this tone, but fails becoming more boring than a house brick.

4. 2000AD is the comic for 13 upwards, at least it was when I would read it religiously. It’s a lot more gritty than the Beano and deals with more grown up concepts, but no swearing, nudity or sex, but plenty of aliens getting fragged and Judge Dredd going around saying “I am the law”. Yes I am a fan.

5. TV Quick or any of those “by the counter tabloids”, is safe enough to sell at the supermarket checkout, but edgy enough to attract the attention and initiate the impulse part of the brain of an interested reader. It does sometimes contain articles like, “I was so fat I even ate the sofa”, kind of articles, but mostly it’s stuff that tickles your gran. There are about ten of these types of publications on the supermarket shelf and so a fair sized market.

If you took out the headlines and put them on a plain white page, they would seem shocking, but by making the colours of the mag soft and pleasing with pretty people and no gore, they are able to sell the, “I ate my neighbours dog baby”, type stories.

6. Now we are starting to get into the, “it may offend someone” category. Although not as offensive as the raw throat pipe of Mr Jeremy Clarkson, but it still does have that frisson of excitement. For example, “The first car I had sex in”, may be an article. Not talking about the bits and bobs you understand, but more the automotive angle, and so is less edgy than it seems.

7. FHM however, is as edgy as it seems. Offending a good portion of people, and yet attracting a sizable audience. Does not shy away from a bit of raw, bodily fluid type humour, but pulls back before you feel all dirty. I’m really talking about the articles, not the pictures.

In all of these content producers I am talking about the “tone” of the content, not the specific content itself, but what it represents and how many people it may offend.

8. Sun/Daily Mail website. These are British content producers, not sure what it would be in your locale. These contain highly offensive material, so much so that they regularly arouse the anger of a lot of people. These are at number 8 because of the amount of people that find them offensive, conversely they are insanely successful.
Very few of my business clients would want to be associated with articles such as “Freddie Star ate my hamster”. But this is what more people like to read and consume than most other publications.
The point is, these publications go out to offend and to bait people into a response. One only has to observe how the Mail handled the Samantha Brick situation. Which is a fascinating case to analyse and one we had a lot of fun with on Linkbait Coaching

9. Nuts. These porn dressed as “lads mags” are able to get into a lot of UK supermarkets. It’s mix of raucous humor and sexual objectification of women would rate it extremely objectionable. Few mainstream linkbaiters would go to this level, but those who do still get links, but find they get a label they just can’t shake.

10. XXXXXXXXXXX is just too hot to handle. So offensive I can’t even repeat it here. Not a level I have ever gone up to, but it’s important to know it’s here and that it exists.

This stuff does get links, but from a more smaller bag of link possibilities.

So there we have it, the more edgy we go the less likely a client is going to want it on their website or used as a guest post on someone else’s. The ideal is probably somewhere in the middle. It is very useful to use an edginess index, I would advise creating your own, relative to clients understanding.

Most content stays safe, not because the publishers want to protect our morals, but it’s the cheapest, safest and quickest to publish. It is not the most effective though, a higher level of edginess works better and I am not just talking sexual edginess or even violent, sometimes it can be something that challenged the current consensus.

Linkbait tends to naturally have an edge, or at least it should do. Attractive can sometimes disrupt and unsettle, but it can also challenge.

When directing those to create content for you it’s important you establish a way to communicate just how far you want to go with the content.

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Gremlins in the Machine 24 hour delay to launch Linkbait Coaching

As always with a product launch the Gremlins attack.

The launch of Linkbait Coaching 3.0 is going to have to be put back 24 hours. Membership will be available on Friday 23rd of March.

Apologies if you were itching to get cracking, but some things I can’t control.

I was asked about the price and I’m going to keep the price the same as it was two years ago. £200 a month.

But I am offering a Linkbait Coaching Plus account which will have a bunch of extras and get you a month free, more on this later.

I will be posting a full list of all the new stuff that is going to be in the latest incarnation.

Learn How to Linkbait like a Pro: Linkbait Coaching 3.0 Launches on Thursday

For over 4 years now I have been training and coaching people in how to get links from people using content. Sometimes known as link baiting, although I prefer the term magnetic web content. This of course is all part of content marketing, which is something I also help clients with.

Linkbaitcoaching.com was launched in 2008 and offers members a way to learn and develop their link building skills. It focuses on the development, production and promotion of content that is specifically designed to attract large amounts of links.

We are now going to open the doors again for the third time in 4 years. As you can tell this is not a mass market product launch and is very low key. This is simply because we don’t have a lot of slots, only 20 are on offer this time, because I give personal, one on one attention to all members within the membership forum.

We have 4 years of archives to plunder, examples, ideas, wild ideas that have to be caged and never go public (if you have been a member you know what I am talking about), and analysis of lots of other successful linkbait.

Please do not sign up if you think this is an easy to do course. It’s not, I expect you to work with me and to follow a process of “deliberate practice” that allows me to coach you to linkbait nirvana.

You do of course have the option to simply watch the process and suck in all the info, but you will get much more out of it if you get stuck in and we knock around some ideas.

This outing we are going to have a closer look at infographics. We have been having a lot of success with using this technique and we can coach you through the process and show you step by step how it is done.

I’m not going to deploy a bunch of sales techniques to get you to sign up, because it is only going to work for you if you really want it and already. So no, “TAP INTO THE AWESOME POWER OF LINKBAIT AND CREATE A TSUNAMI OF LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE”, and other such nonsense.

Although saying that, past members have gone on to create some of the best linkbait in this part of the Solar System. And you will be surprised to learn who have entered the hallowed and sacred space that is the Linkbaitcoaching.com training space.

Launch is Thursday, 22nd of March.Friday, 23rd march.
Only 20 spaces available.

More info later, in the meantime sign up for the email newsletter on the right and also watch the blog and my Twitter feed.

Oh and by the way, I’m going to be adding a few new goodies to the coaching this time, more on this later.

Content Marketing Training or Linkbait Coaching?

I had a feeling it was coming about a year ago.

A new term to describe something that doesn’t really need a new term and yet at the same time is meaningless.

But lets put aside such semantic discussions for those who chose to burn time on such matters.

The term “Content Marketing” is here and lets embrace it like a long lost friend.

I don’t have to buy into the artifice that this is a new technique, all shiny and fresh. The readers to this blog are mostly hard nosed online marketers who know that knew terms like this are only created so the same old stuff can be repackaged and sold as a new marketing concept.

And so a writer, now becomes a content marketing consultant.

OK, it’s not exactly like that and there are nuances to the term and it’s meaning, blah blah blah.

The term “linkbait” went through a similar process when it stuck its mongrel head out the hole from whence it came. Lots of screen reading time was devoted to its true meaning and whether the £800 suited marketing exec of an International Corporation should be told he needed “Linkbait”, without implying it’s something found on a pavement after a crack addict has vomited on it.

And so it’s natural that the term, “content marketing” has kicked linkbait off the charts. Just like New Wave replaced punk, these things go in cycles.

I know what you are think, “yeah but linkbait isn’t anything like content marketing….” yada yada yada.

You are missing the point.

The reasons these terms exist in the first place is purely economic. They exist so we can sell stuff to clients who don’t want a two hour insight into the nuances of the technique.

The terms do not have defined meanings (a Wikipedia entry is not indicative of a defined meaning) and so when talking to a client the term can be shaped to suit the objective.

The term can now describe a range of things that were not bundled together before. Which is very useful when explaining things to a client, as they do not have the time to understand detail.

Maybe I am being a tad cynical, but I like the thought process to be transparent and it helps me when people say, “Dude, just get over it, content marketing is King“.

Now, as I train people in the dark art of linkbaiting, it’s not too much of a leap to repackage that training into content marketing training.

To my pals who agree with me that calling it “content marketing” is naff and really just a mind job, if the mainstream are running the term, may as well rank for it.

The process of going over to the dark side started last year, may as well embrace it and move forward.

SEO Linkbuilding Video of the Day

Very interesting debate with Wil Reynolds and Brett Snyder from Seer Interactive, an (if you want the points you have to give the right anchor text as well as the link ;)

I have this conversation with clients all the time. Both sides have merits and I think it comes down to the business model of the client and the amount of knowledge they have. The best client will just give you the cash and say, “you do that voodoo that you do so well,” but very few actually say and even less sing it in key.

There is something I call, Positive Domain Name Context. If you have a blog and call it Death Star Pizza and stick a blog post about space ships, it makes it more likely that you will get links. You tap into a niche where you clients and the clients competitors will not normally be able to get links. The site then only links to the sites the client wants to link to.

Also, there are a few other things that you can do with a Microsite like this which gets good quality links. But, I’m going to leave that for another time.

Linkbait has definitely evolved and there are quite a few creative ways we can use content that gets links. A client I was chatting too last week was amazed how his site for Ironing Board covers jumped in the SERPS from a link from a an authority site on cat snacks. (Niches have been changed to protect the innocent) You hear a lot about you gotta get links from sites from in your niche to rank for your keyword. No you don’t.

Time and time again I see sites ranked with links from all sorts of niches, as long as those sites are linked to and are seasoned over time it doesn’t matter.

Now, back to creating content about space ships.

What is Content Based Link building all about?

What an awful label, “content based link building”. Doesn’t exactly fire you up to run to your keyboard and bash out ass achingly good linkbait does it?

Labels are interesting, within them you can find out lots of stuff.

What I specialise in has many labels, linkbait, content, magnetic content, etc.

None of which really capture the essesnce of what we do.

At the recent SASCON conference people asked what I did and I told them I produced content such as “13 Kittens on Crack go on Holiday to Holland”. How can you put a label on that?

The interesting thing is there is quite a strict process to creating linkbait, highly creative people tend to have patterns of behaviour which allows them to tap into their creative resevoir. Sometimes the headlines seem like they were thought up in minutes, but the reality is a casual headline which works has usually been crafted for hours if not days.

I am still shocked when people are surprised I work on a specific headline for days, I am sure most bloggers take about 30 secs. It is possible to come up with a great headline for 30 secs, but you will probably find that your sub-conscious as been mulling it over for years.

So, back to the question, What is content based link building all about?

Most of it seems to be about mediocrity, most content is medocre. I guess by pure definition that would be the case, if everything was exceptional then it would become average.

The important thing to focus on then, is successful content based link building. This is not that hard to backward engineer.

  • Look at the niche
  • Identify the content with most links
  • Deconstruct content
  • Analyse backlinks to identify patterns

The data you need to end up with is, why did these people link to this content? It’s difficult to be definitive and some of the gaps must be filled in by instinct and guess work. But you will notice certain interesting things:

  • 80% of the links come from 20% of the linkers
  • The links are given by real people, not machines
  • Human contact increases the chance of a link
  • Linkers may not agree with the content

We can divulge a lot more information from the why did these people link to this content question. And this data can help shape your own link building strategy within the specific niche.

But is content based linkbuilding all about relationships? I don’t think it’s “all” about that, there is a whole lot more to it, but it is a very important part of the mix.

Should I Buy Links to Improve my Rankings

Mark Cook, over at Further.co.uk has written a thought provoking article on why buying links is a dumb idea

As someone who offers clients a linkbuilding service using web content it would be a “of course he would say that”, kinda thing if I said don’t buy links. I’m not an expert on buying and selling links so my opinion is coloured by that fact. But what Mark presents is a logical case for the case against links. Of course it is one of the weapons in the arsenal and does a specific job and you have to know how to handle the weapon to be able to maximise its efficiency. Anyone who has been banned selling links know this.

An interesting quote in the article is from Shaun Anderson,

“If buying links was ineffective, it wouldn’t be against Google TOS. Think about that.”

Another interesting passage from the article:

I love it when our competitors do this, I really do. By outlaying £6k a month, they are taking money away that they could be investing in enhancing their existing content, improving the conversion rate of their website, or investing the money in campaigns to create hooks, interest and engagement.

I’m always shocked when I hear the budget some websites pay for paid links. £6,000 a month can build you some very juicy linkbait. What I would add to this is that the links that are generated through linkbait are natural, organic and extremely hard for competitors to replicate. And as pointed SEO Chicks pointed out this week, there are ways to nobble paid links. Although how many people actually do this I am not sure, I don’t know of any.

You could pay to produce beautiful content such as this which I assume has resulted in buckets of links and rightly so. Most scratch their heads and let the dandruff fall on their keyboard whilst they explain why their insurance – credit card – kitchen worktop website can’t make use of such content. But, that’s where content agencies like mine come in, we look at what content fits your niche and create something that will in all probability get links.

The fact will always remain that fantastic content will go links, so all you have to do to build links is create fantastic content.

How to Linkbait the Forex Market

I’m speaking at an affiliate conference, a4uexpo London in October, so I took a closer look at the main sectors that affiliates like to play in. I have it down to seven hot sectors.

Hot affiliate sectors

  • Gaming
  • Forex
  • Travel
  • Mobile comms
  • Dating
  • Retail
  • Financial

Lets look at the most abstract and probably the most difficult sector to get links to. The Forex market. [Read more...]