By Paul Morris
Summary: Gamification and widgets will become the next major tactic for companies looking to gain SEO Link Bait competitive advantage.
Up until now the holy triangle (above) of link building has reached its zenith with ‘Link Bait’ and most SEO practitioners have ‘only’ taken Link Bait as far as guides, news creation, syndication of consumer studies and infographics. Whilst all these Link Bait initiatives are great, and are ones I have used in the past (see some infographic examples and case studies on this site) the next evolution will be gamification and a more intelligent use of an old tactic – widgets.
Gamification and widgets can result in increased Engagement, virality and User Generated Content and SEO also sees a huge boost in terms of Social Media syndication and various websites linking back to you as a result. As long as the link bait is hosted on the website you are trying to optimise it will then aid your inbound link profile and thus benefit your natural search rankings.
Companies such as Mint.com (financial fitness-o-meter) and Hallmark (their Social Gifting Calendar) have found success in generating inbound links via gamification and widgets and at McCann we have had some success with a trolley dash game that was produced for Aldi. We have also recently been pitching for SEO business that includes gamification and widget ideas in our Link Bait mix (I would love to share them but cannot for now!).
My check list for creating a game or widget:
1/ Set your objectives and align them with your brand
2/ Do research of both your target markets i.e. not only your clients customers but also your target syndicators e.g. industry magazines, influential bloggers, opinion leading tweeters, etc. Target market archetypes can help find out the…..
3/ Right techniques for your users – If your aims are not only to generate links but to engage your user profile you need to create something truly fun or useful that aligns itself with your brand values and is not just great from a link magnet perspective
4/ Engage Social SEO – The only way the link bait will succeed is if it engages your target syndicators from a Social SEO perspective (see my top 6 social seo factors post for some ideas) and if you listen to your user base and then engage with them and improve accordingly.
A £spanner in the works
The main problem with this great new world though is cost. Whilst many SEO’ers continue to buy links, article/ press release spin, generate directory listings, etc at relatively low costs there is a barrier of entry to truly innovative gamification and widget development. Games and widgets can cost £10,000 – £40,000 to produce and with no guarantee of your link bait going viral you really do need a ballsy decision maker who goes with this style of SEO link generation.
High risk yet definitely high reward.