What the hell does Lyndon Antcliff Know about Linkbait

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  • June 13, 2008
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Lyndon Antcliff has become one of the most notorious linkbait experts after a recent high profile project involving a hoax story was publicly “outed”.

The fallout from this has driven Lyndon underground to launch an exclusive new linkbait coaching program.

I decided to interview Lyndon to find out the truth about what’s been going on and see if he really knows how to linkbait.

Hi Lyndon, the fallout from the hoax linkbait was pretty convenient happening a few weeks before you launched a coaching program. Was it all just a big linkbait ploy?

Yes I always like to get Fox News to cover my linkbait before a product launch 😉 The reality of the situation was, I had been trying to launch a coaching program for many months now. A number of people who have been moaning at me to get my finger out and crack on with it will testify to this.

A moment happened, and moments like this happen probably once every two years. Where you are faced with something that is much bigger than yourself, and you have to decide where you want it to take you.

It’s been a surreal trip, something that I would love to take all the credit for. But, I realise that I was actually a very tiny piece of this. I think I tapped into some kind of online social consciousness and raised an issue that people wanted to address. I think I happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right kind of linkbait.

So, although I did write something specifically designed to push the buttons of a specific social tribe, I think the resultant kerfuffle was more to do with a collective need for a debate on the subject.

Therefore, what I mean to say is I saw the opportunity, decided the time was right to do what I had been planning for some time.

A lot of people have heard about linkbait and have even tried it. What separates the thousands of unsuccessful linkbait articles published every week from the ones that actually go viral?

It’s actually very simple. The successful ones give people something that makes them want to tell someone else about it. Be it in the form of a link, sending an IM or telling people about it on your radio show.

So, the trick is being able to craft something into a thing that inspires the reader to pass it on, without telling the reader that is what your goal it. On that note I think some people would like to pass a law where all viral marketing and linkbait was all labeled as thus.

Perhaps Google will be coming out with a linkbait meta tag in the future.

To me, the word that separates the two is “seduction”, and I absolutely mean this in the romantic sense. People must fall in love with the content. It has an emotional connection between it and the reader. Rationality is irrelevant, and that’s why I think the Ralph Hardy story had such strong legs, people suspended their disbelief because it was such a wonderful story. It hit them in a very emotional place. I haven’t time or space here to deconstruct the pychological motivators of the piece but it managed to reach into parts of the mind that other linkbait does not reach.

For most people Digg is the first stop for linkbait and, rightly or wrongly, it can make or break a linkbait piece. Given the huge difficulty of getting e-commerce sites onto Digg what suggestions do you have for success in this area?

Diggers like anyone respond to those who give them respect. So if some e-commerce site simply treats digg like it’s own personal traffic bank, it’s going to fail. But, if it learns how to interact and hold discourse with the digg tribe, that tribe will pay back in kind.

Getting into specifics, I would first define what the e-commerce site’s objectives are. Any campaign wishing to attract diggers to their content must take this into account. There are lots of obvious technical things like having little advertising on the page, keep corporate branding to the minimum etc.

But, the essential thing they must do is present something to the tribe which they will accept and honour. Rather than making them respond by burying you in the sand, dribbling honey over your head and adding the flesh eating ants.

The problem e-commerce sites have is they do not speak the digg tribal language, they need interpreters, which is where professional linkbaiters come in.

The success of a story can often depend on the trust social media users place in the source it’s published on. A breaking story published on the BBC stands a much better chance of getting links than the identical story on a small blog. What steps can small blogs take to solve this and appear more credible?

digg is always going to give the bigger publishers the advantage, I constantly see sites like the Times.co.uk and dailymail.co.uk make the front page with content I know would fail on smaller sites.

Make sure the content is submitted by a digg power user, if it’s great content a digger would love to do it as they love getting the front page too. Also, improve your social network, make it big enough so that the same people don’t digg your stuff all the time. This can be a job in itself. A lot of popular blogs have a large enough fan base for this not to be a problem.

But, doing those things are pointless if the content you are starting out with is poor quality. Your content must be the best it can possibly be.

Teaching people how to linkbait is a tricky business. What will you do if some of your clients are a lost cause?

Lol, take them out the back and shoot them. I think the people who are motivated to join such a course and lay down 200 readies for the chance to be coached in such techniques already have the correct attitude. To me, it’s all about attitude.

Most blogs out there touch on the practical aspects of linkbait, which is great. But, few touch on the theory and it’s understanding the theoretical aspect which will turn you into a success. Most people learn this without even knowing, by repeated application and experimentation.

So, if I can break down the theory into practical application and get people to come to an understanding of how the constituent elements brings together a great piece of linkbait I think I can teach anyone who is properly motivated and has the right attitude.

Have you ever had to give up on a project because it was impossible to linkbait for?

No, there is always some angle. I have wished I could give up on some clients, as some come to me with unrealistic expectations. But, most of the time you can come up with something, the problem is, will the client allow you to go down that path to make the content desirable enough for people to be attracted to it.

I am no longer taking new clients though so hopefully will never have this problem again.

Some websites are impossible to bait links for because they are just static 5 page brochure sites. If your client was in an industry full of these sites what steps would you recommend they took to find link targets?

If the client does not allow you to create content on their site, getting links to that site is going to be tricky. Although if we discount linkbait for such clients there are a number of creative ways to get links and there are also some “old school” linkbuilding techniques that can be applied.

Basically it’s about looking at the motivation behind another webmaster dropping a link to the specific site. If there is nothing of worth to link to, you have to start thinking about getting creative and putting on your grey or even blackhat. Depending of course on the amount of risk the client is willing to take.

What is your favourite headline of all time (excluding fake ones)?

I would have to say my favourite is “Soviet Revolt Grows”, I managed to nab the large poster from an Evening Standard newspaper box, back in 1991 I think. It was on my wall for many years.

But, “Boy Eats Own Head”, is a classic from the National Enquirer.

Thanks Lyndon.

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