Lower Head


E-Marketing Performance Blog

The Anatomy of a 10-Step, 12-Month Link Baiting Campaign

Last February, when Stoney told me of his diabolical plan to become a household name in the SEO community, I scoffed. Here was a guy who has been in SEO for almost ten years and remained a relative unknown. Sure, he made a few friends here and there and has been slowly building his reputation, but who would of thought 12 months ago that Stoney would be able to snag an interview with one of the biggest names in the SEO. And that’s not Stoney interviewing the big name, mind you… that’s the big name interviewing Stoney.

Here we are, nearly twelve months later and I can hardly believe that yes, ladies and gentlemen, Stoney has become a “name”. Ok, so maybe he’s not Rand Fishkin. Or Jennifer Laycock. Or Jill Whalen. Or Aaron Wall. Or Andy Beal. Or Brian Clark. Or… OK, you get the point. Stoney has not become that much of a household name, but still I bet many of you hadn’t heard of him 12 months ago!

So here, for the pleasure of our wonderful blog readers, is a historical record of one of the greatest, all time, 12-month-long link baiting campaigns:

Step 1: Throw the smackdown on an A-list SEO
February 21, 2007

Stoney kicked things off with a bit of trash talk toward Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. Rand had recently written a post that Stoney disagreed with, providing the perfect opportunity that he needed to launch his evil campaign. While Stoney couched his remarks with the obligatory words citing his respect and admiration for Rand, he didn’t hesitate to throw down the gauntlet. In his post he said that Rand’s post was “ignorant” and then called him out as being an “SEO elite out of touch with the business of SEO”.

It’s not surprising that this got picked up by a few people in the SEO community, especially those that knew Stoney would be sharing the stage with Rand at a conference in Portland the very next month. The foundation had been laid and the expectation of a brawl was quickly growing.

Step 2: Wipe it up (a little)
February 28, 2007

In an attempt to keep the issue alive without looking like an @ss, Stoney followed up on his post criticizing Rand by criticizing himself. But in order to do so without actually apologizing or appearing weak, he criticized himself from a third person perspective. Confused? Yeah, I was too. But still, it was nothing short of brilliant. It caused people wonder (perhaps about Stoney’s mental health and stability) and I’m sure is spread fear into Rand knowing he’d be sharing a stage with someone that was near to being committed.

Setp 3: Play dumb
March 9, 2007

If you’re ever looking for someone completely and totally skilled at playing dumb, Stoney is your man. Honed through eleven years of marriage and five kids, Stoney has perfected the play dumb head tilt, voice grunt and the “I don’t know what you’re talking about” facial expression.

On stage with Rand, you’d never have guessed that Stoney had insulted Rand just a month before. When asked by Rebecca at the pre-party if Stoney planned on making fun of her boss again, Stoney was almost successful at convincing her that no such event ever happened. His powers of persuasion are so grand that he swears Rebecca had broken down in tears apologizing for accusing him of such terrible things. (Rumor has it she ran back to her room and jumped on the Internet to find proof.) Rebecca, of course, denies these events to this day.

Step 5: Set a trap (anonymously)
September 25, 2007

Prepping for another mano y mano with Rand in Seattle (at the SEOmoz seminar), Stoney and team created a resume for The Venture Bros. Brock Sampson. The resume and cover letter were then forwarded to Rand asking, nay demanding, that they consider him for a job. The stage was being set for the ultimate link bait payoff to be revealed later.

Step 4: Throw out some more smackdown
September 27, 2007

Stoney then had a simplified version of Rand’s SEO quiz created and published online. This version, however, only asked one question: How often do you agree with Rand? Test takers were then scored depending on how they answered the question. This was fantastic tongue-in-cheek humor that rocket throughout the SEO community. So brilliant was this quiz that I wish I had thought of it myself!

Step 6: Spy and play nice
October 1, 2007

In Seattle, Stoney played kissy-kissy with the whole SEOmoz team. Rebecca was so enamored with him that she actually invited him back to her pad, er, office to check her out, er, show him the inner workings of the SEOmoz team. Stoney was also successful at cornering Rand and chatted him up; Rand being none-the-wiser to what would unfold later that evening.

Step 7: Reveal the prize
October 1, 2007 – evening

During the after-party, Stoney and team looked for the perfect opportunity to reveal to Rand and company their newest team member: a handcrafted action figure of Brock Sampson. Rebecca cried and begged for a job “with the geniuses at Pole Position Marketing” but Stoney felt she was too needy and had to turn her down. She cried some more. Rand, of course had similar feelings and if Gillian wasn’t there to stop him he might have ridden back on the plane sitting on Stoney’s lap!

Step 8: Wait (and wait and wait)
October 2-November 6, 2007

Any good link baiter must learn to bide their time. Especially when waiting an important part of the next phase of an evil baiting plan. Stoney expected the awesomeness of the Brock Sampson campaign to go unrewarded. Sure, promises were made but we knew that sometimes people need a little incentive to follow through. Well that played right into Stoney’s hands.

Step 9: Blackmail
November 7, 2007

Having expected a period of silence after Brock was presented to Rand and team, Stoney took some incriminating photos of Brock Sampson long before his trip to Seattle. Of course, since Rand and his team have yet to fulfill every last detail of the ransom note, it is yet to be determined if those photos will be made public. But I must tell you, they are not the stuff that small children should see!

Step 10: Snag interview (and become household name)
November 14, 2007

Having no choice but to concede, or else risk major embarrassment, Rand puts together a spectacular, world-class interview that rockets Stoney into semi-stardom status.

Thus I have been proven wrong. With a little creativity, a lot of patience and some blackmail-ready photographs, one truly can work their way up the industry food chain. Oh, and a note to the SEOmoz team: I suggest you read the fine print in the blackmail letter. We’re still waiting for for one final demand to be fulfilled. We still have those photos. Don’t make us do it!

Max Speed

If the Pole Position Marketing team had a muse—and it does—it would be Max Speed. We love Max’s occasionally off-color, usually amusing and always pointed “Maxisms.” (Maybe “Maxims” would be a better word.) Max gives voice to some of the things we think but, bound by professional decorum, aren’t permitted to say. At least, not out loud.

Comments are closed.