The SEO world has been buzzing with tons of link bait ideas. Danny has an SES session on Link Baiting & Viral Search Success, there are top ten list out to wazoo, there are new tools, new games and controversy articles being released daily all with the intent of building links. Heck, even this piece of content is an attempt to get some links.

But at what point does the effort of a specific piece of content, the price of a tool, the cost of time worth the link bait you are generating?

Is there a simple equation?

PR6 = $400 per link, PR2 = $25 per link. Link lifetime value = 6 months on average? High trafficked sites that link to you generate links from other high trafficked sources and even more smaller trafficked sources...

Then you have to look at the content/tools that bring in one time links versus repetitive links over time. And then does that require additional work (more content, maintenance of tool, etc.) or not?

Let me pull out two examples:
(1) http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/keywords/
(2) http://www.theadsensegame.com/

DigitalPoint's tool will

  1. Keep gaining new links
  2. Keep adding additional users
  3. Keep repeat users coming back
  4. Requires little maintenance
  5. Word of mouth referrals for that tool keeps coming
  6. Generates links as long as the tool is useful

The AdSense Game will

  1. Generate some initial buzz
  2. Will drive initial users to the tool
  3. Will generate some word of mouth referrals
  4. But after you play once that is it
  5. Very little repeat usage
  6. Link bait is built once, and not repetitive

I suspect DigitalPoint's tool over the years, took him about 50 hours of work, guessing (shawn says it is less than 50 hours). Let's say his time is worth $100 per hour (we all know he is worth way more than that). Cost of link bait is around $5,000.

I suspect the AdSense Game took a heck of a lot of time to build also, if I had to guess, let's say 50 hours, minimum. Let's say the time is worth $100 per hour, to make it round. Cost of link bait is $5,000.

Now how would you figure, with both these types of bait, what the ROI (return on investment) is for each?

For some reason, I would think the DP tool will come out better.

So at what point does it not pay to build link bait? Would love to see some scientific equations? Orion?