“Linkbaiting?” SRSLY? 2011 Called & Wants Its Gimmick Back!

Recently a large website sent over an RFP for a “Linkbaiting” assignment.  We don’t typically respond to cattle call RFPs, but this was an awesome prospective client. AIMCLEAR was humbled this site wanted some of that sweet AIMCLEAR content sauce Mojo.  We’re known for creating colorful and user-centric content, distributing by organic and paid organic social distribution methods for the win. The real question was, “What should the big content ‘win’ mean anyway?”

Our first reaction was that STARTING with link BAIT as the prime motivating factor seemed like setting a lobster trap out of water.


We’d not seen the word “Linkbait” stated in contractual terms for at least a few years, so we were leery.  Obviously creating wonderful content is important for many reasons, none the least of which is to serve, empower, delight, engage and win over new and existing customers. Absent a foundational every day content strategy and tactics, a linkbait project, totally focused on one piece of monthly home run content and ONLY for the purpose of building links, seems pretty myopic. Certainly such methodology is contrary to the holistic approach AIMCLEAR believes in. There are many nodes of content success. They all work together.

We decided to play out the process by responding to the RFP, hoping we might change the prospect’s mind and frame to more contemporary objectives.  Also,we stood to get a blog post out of the thinking.  Sadly we didn’t change the client’s mind though interactions were fascinating.  Thus, this blog post is to share the exchange with you, our readers.

Our first step was to reach out to the client to clarify that getting links, linkBAITING, was to be the sole objective of the assignment.  In other words, when measuring the content’s success: a) traffic and return traffic would NOT matter b) attributable conversion in time would NOT matter c) social signals from authority users would NOT matter d) reach would NOT matter e) likes, follows and shares would NOT matter. Here’s the prospective client’s clarifying response. 

The goal  is to build over 350 links per month.

  • Obviously absolute numbers for links are not enough, we need to get a mix of links from diverse sources (referring domains) and different quality.
  • Ideally a mix should be around 50% low quality links (assuming 1 or 2 influencers pick this up, the low quality links will follow organically), 40% medium quality and 10% good quality.
  • Just to be clear on the expected outcome, at the end of the day we are looking for a pure link-baiting agency, which means we expect links being built every month as a main focus.

AIMCLEAR decided to respectfully decline the opportunity, which made me sad.  Here is our response in doing just that.  (We’ve redacted any information that would make the site identifiable.)

Dear [Client],
On behalf of AIMCLEAR and our associates, we want to thank you for the opportunity. I’m humbled. [Client] is certainly the kind of client that AIMCLEAR loves to work with. We applaud you for your ambition and goals.

When AIMCLEAR takes on content projects the goal is no longer ONLY links. We take content projects when we are judged on the HOLISTIC results that come with great content marketing, in some combination of:

  • Targeted & scalable social psychographic reach and customer traffic to your content to content that converts in an attribution model. We want to be able to say that “to touch this content means to come back and convert.” We don’t just want traffic. We want awesome, focused, real user traffic.
  • Real links from sites with good domain authority. Do the poor qualities links really matter? Do influencers really follow crappy links from low quality sources?
  • Authentic social signals from real users of actual authority (Required for the links to matter as much)
  • Friendship, shares, follows, likes and other social subscription and future friend-of-friend marketing.
  • Insulation of our sites from harsh search engine algorithm updates (The big goal)
  • Amplification of PR distribution to journalists, bloggers, and a myriad of focused media-role users (To help GET the links, buzz, traffic, etc… in the first place)

AIMCLEAR creates content with an understanding that ALL of the above bullet points are part of the content marketing success. We can’t guarantee ONLY huge piles of links. We CAN guarantee some combination of the above bullet points (including delicious links), shifting around each month, all to the betterment of the website. That’s the sign of a healthy content marketing system. Content is the tie that binds traffic, links, social, algo safety, and content PR.

Sadly, we can’t take the assignment as it is laid out. In our opinion, creating content solely for the purpose of X links per month is not something we can guarantee success with.  Such an approach comes at content marketing from the wrong direction. Most content agencies we know would not take a job only to build links and with no other results counted as success. The online marketing universe is no longer so compartmentalized. Great content marketing is about the things bloggers do every single day, small and large, with homeruns sprinkled in between.  We CAN guarantee that.

Your RFP as laid out essentially calls for one piece of content, one complete feast every month, predictable, without doing the basics, all for links, links links :). You have enough budget to do an awesome everyday content strategy but not hit linkbaiting homeruns EVERY month or die :).


So, again thank you very much. If you’re ever interested in a content marketing project where you want to attack ALL of the good things that come from content as the criteria on which to judge our work, AIMCLEAR will compete with anyone to win the assignment. I hope our paths cross again. Wishing you all the best luck in the world.

Marty Weintraub
Founder & Evangelist, AIMCLEAR®
2013 INC 5000 Honoree

The potential client was lovely in response and our friendship solidified, with nobody taking any offense and an air of mutual respect.  If you’re interested in learning more about modern link building, AIMCLEAR is offering a full day workshop, September 30th, as part of SMX New York. There are a few seats left so, if you’re going to be at SMX East, head over to sign up.  We hope to see you there.



© ilumus photography, © Maria Bell, © Lise Bennett – Fotolia dot com

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