The other day I responded to some arguments I have recently come across criticizing link bait and in turn offered my view that link bait will ultimately improve the quality of content on the web. One of the arguments that I glossed over was how some think link bait creates more temporary content and by its temporary nature reduces quality instead of improving it. Not wanting to leave things undone I thought I would continue with the discussion and offer reasons why temporary content can be just as good as permanent content and also lead to improved quality.
I do agree that chasing after link bait can lead to content that is more only temporary in nature. It’s a valid argument against baiting links in the sense that in an effort to pull links into the site webmasters might create a sort of content of the moment. Articles published to take advantage of the current climate may not be relevant soon after. Putting out tools in beta might be better off left in development a little longer. Both while generating quick links may not be of value a year or perhaps a month after first hitting the web.
Temporary Content Can Still Be Quality Content
Temporary though, is not automatically bad. Everything the New York Times publishes is temporary. Today’s news is not only irrelevant a year from now, it’s irrelevant tomorrow. But the paper and the articles within are still worth every word. Same for the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. By their very nature, newspapers generate content that is not meant to last, yet can still be high quality.
There are certainly news stories online that will provide quality, gain links, and yet still be meant only for a limited duration. Is it fair to say any one of these pages is bad for the web or not be valuable enough to collect links? Isn’t first to a story link bait. Being first and setting the standard for the articles written after is both link bait and valuable.
Entertainment sites will often feature less than permanent information, Sports articles will probably be important for a limited time only, even seo advice can have a lifespan not for the ages. Much information will always be temporary simply because things change. Today’s latest movie won’t be playing tomorrow and the world’s greatest athlete will eventually retire. Search engine algorithms change and what is true about them today may or may not be true tomorrow.
We all like to be entertained and we also like to direct other people the things we think will entertain them as well. Pieces written to be entertaining are generally not meant to exist forever. But does that make them any less worthy of acquiring links? And why should anyone think because it’s not meant to be read in a few months it’s not worthy of being read today.
A Chain Of Temporary Is A Permament Improvement
Of course I said at the outset that temporary content could lead to an improved web and while I’ve offered reasons why content with a short lifespan isn’t necessarily bad I haven’t yet mentioned how it can improve things.
Ideas foster new ideas and the continual flow of ideas between people is one of the main foundations of progress. If we’re all required to ensure that everything we publish is perfect and lasting before publishing then it holds back ideas. It’s the discussion that leads to progress, but many of the ideas within the overall discussion will be temporary. They may be of momentary importance and within the entire discussion they may only have a limited duration. They may exist only to bridge the gap between what came before and what will come after.
Should those placeholders in the discussion be ignored? An article you write tomorrow may prove to be irrelevant six months from now. Yet it may be very important in directing the future thought that will be written six months further down the road. Your idea would still be worthy of attracting links and the links it does attract today may be responsible for leading those others who will come after in the discussion to the thoughts that will in turn shape their own thoughts.
The tool I create today may bait links to it. No one may be using that tool a year from now, because someone has expanded on the original and created a better tool. Or because over time the tool I created wasn’t nearly as good as it first seemed. But while not being used a year from now the tool might be what sparks the ideas for the next batch of tools that are good or better than the original. Isn’t that temporary application worthy of drawing links to it?
It’s true that the goal of creating link bait can lead to content being released sooner rather than later and in doing so can leave it in a less than perfect state. But nothing is perfect. Everything is truly temporary in nature. However, temporary does not mean bad. It can be informative and newsworthy or simply entertaining. It can also be a link in the chain of ideas that furthers thought. All worthy of attracting links.