The concept of linkbaiting has heretofore been an abstract one. Nick Wilson, CEO and senior strategist for social media marketing agency ClickInfluence, is one of the biggest proponents of the strategy while admitting it's "not an exact science." But maybe this year it will become more tangible with the advent of Linkbait 3.0, or as Wilson calls it, "widgetbaiting."
"The holy grail of linkbaiting in 2007 will be the widget," writes Wilson in a recent SearchEngineLand column. He knows a thing or two about creating a popular widget. Wilson's Performancing Blog Editor Firefox extension has been downloaded half a million times.
The evolution from linkbait to widgetbait probably owes a lot to broadband, and the success of interactive applications in recent months. In the beginning, linkbait was textual in nature, not only requiring tremendous creativity and writing/presentation ability, but also consistent pressure on the pulse of the Web. And that makes it more difficult, especially on a network now thriving on video and games.
What it didn't require was money, and the limited shelf life (i.e., sudden, short bursts of in-coming links) was a tight fit for the investment. Textual linkbaiting has entertainment value, but utility provides more long-term results. And utility costs money. Nonetheless, the successor to textual linkbait, the on-site tool developed from functional scripts.
But the beauty of the widget, though it takes traffic away from your page unlike the on-site tool (which slips into obsolescence relatively quickly) is that people can take your brand with them, embed it into a browser or dashboard, and, if they love it, tell everyone they know to get one. Voila! Lots of sustainable link love that recycles itself every time you update the widget.