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Link Bait as a link strategy goes deeper. Link baiting has been accepted by our industry with only superficial consideration. It's time to take a serious look at it because it's our duty to investigate whether something is useful or not.
Search Engines use the web graph to determine what content is relevant. This is why links are referred to as "votes" because each link is a vote for the content it is linking to. However you cannot use that explanation to justify viral links. It is naive to think that every link should and does count. The reality is that every link is not equal. The truth is that some links count very little and some links don't count at all. Does Google dampen viral links? Yes, there is no question about that. It's a known fact, for example, that Google dampens the viral links from Google Bombing [google.com]. Google bombing is an example of a viral link situation where Google devalues the links. It contradicts the assertion that Google does not devalue viral links. Google does indeed devalue viral links.
Links do not necessarily equal a vote for the content it is linking to. Links do not always indicate authority. This is why Google analyzes the context of the link, to find out why one site links to another. Google does this to return relevant SERPs. Google analyzes the links to determine the reasons why a piece of content is being linked to. It is untrue to assert that dampening viral links will negatively affect the link graph. It would be a slippery slope if Google did not dampen viral links.
The link is often embedded in the infographic in a way that people donít realize, vs. a true endorsement of your site.
The other thing that happens is that people donít always realize what they are linking to when they reprint these infographics. Often the link goes to a completely unrelated site, and one that they donít mean to endorse. Conceptually, what happens is they really buy into publishing the infographic, and agree to include the link, but they donít actually care about what it links to. From our perspective this is not what a link is meant to be.
[edited by: tedster at 10:00 pm (utc) on Apr 26, 2013]
[edit reason] fixed link [/edit]