Lately, I’ve been getting more and more requests for “expert interviews,” nominations for blog awards, randomly scrambled top lists, or similar adoration in my email box.
At first I was happy and flattered – until I took a closer look at the websites that supposedly find me so great: random affiliate niche sites, dubious automated test portals, and even financial advice sites that have nothing to do at all with my blog. Some even advertise dubious offers such as “Get your loan approved fast! No minimum credit score required.”
What they want from me: A shiny spot for their logo and link on my website. What they give me in return: Nothing but an inflated ego. Not much of a deal, if you ask me.
1. The “Ego-Bait”
The principle behind this modus is called Ego-Bait.
Everyone thinks it’s awesome to be adored, and to receive recognition for one’s contribution in his fields Human beings are complete suckers for personal compliments, as Dale Carnegie so aptly put it:
A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.
And to show the world how great you are, you publish these acknowledgments on your own social media channels, on a specially created press release, or even boast of the award-giving body’s logo on your website.
That’s okay in itself, too. I’m also guilty and proud of showing off praises I’ve been given – right there at the top banner of my website.
The problem creeps in when you practically get nothing in return, with your vanity making you vulnerable of exploitation.
2. What are the forms of ego-bait?
Ego-Bait are disguised in all sorts of forms, including:
- Top Lists: You will be added to a list sounding similar to the “Top 50 Mommy Blogs,” or the “10 Most Influential Bloggers 2020.” They’d give you a shiny new badge that you can add to your website, with a dofollow link as trap.
- Awards: This is like a top list on steroids. You will be nominated for an award, or even win one! They’d give you bragging rights to claim that you’re the “Best Blogger 2020 in Category XYZ”.
- Interview Requests: When someone asks you for an exclusive interview, they give you the sensation of an expert status. Very tempting, right? The questions would often be sprinkled with a lot of praises for your “success,” and don’t even deny that you love it.
- Invitation as podcast guest: It’s a similar bait to the interview request, but you get the added prestige of being featured in a podcast channel.
- Articles or mentions in praise: As the simplest and most subtle form of baits, someone could write an article all for and about you. Inspirational! Expert! Revolutionary! They’d bombard you with all sorts of commendation and praises.
- Share or use any of your recipes, graphics, photos etc. on their website as an “exclusive feature.”
- Positive reviews of one of your products or services: This is probably not applicable for most bloggers, but it’s still worth mentioning. Watch out and don’t pounce at every great testimony you get!
3. How can I stay safe from ego-baits?
Just so we don’t get off on the wrong foot: ego-baits can also be a great marketing method that can end up in a win-win situation. Well, only if you don’t become such a greedy folk! I myself use ego-baits from time to time. For example, I tag bloggers or companies on my Facebook-based article to grab their attention.
Exploitation occurs when the recommendation you make for someone else is not honest. Don’t give them hollow words of admiration without reading even a single entry on their blog, you sneaky sneaky guy. You’re also abusive when you intentionally give that person far less than the benefit you’d get.
To avoid these falling as a victim to ego-baits, watch out for these red flags:
- The entire article is set to noindex. This means that it will not appear in any search results, and links embedded in the article are worth nothing.
- The article is buried so deep in their website that nobody will ever read it.
- The article is never shared in social media, or anywhere that can give it higher visibility.
- The website that praises you has absolutely nothing to do with your blog topic.
- The website has just been set up, and only gets about 30 visitors per month. Some will even manipulate you into thinking that they get so much more.
How damaging exactly can ego-baits be? Don’t get me started on the time you’d waste by answering over 10 interview questions that no one will end up reading. Picture this. By publishing their logo or link on your website, you fuel their visitor count. Your readers will invest an hour or two in knowing their brand, but what do you get? Nothing. You even put your credibility at risk! I personally wouldn’t want my name and photo displayed by a very suspicious company or blogger.
What bothers me is that these one-sided ego-baits are becoming a trend in the SEO scene. No surprise if its popularity will increase significantly in the future, because it works so well for sneaky marketers. Don’t let your guard down and keep your mind over your vanity! Whenever you grant someone an interview or receive a stellar award, spending at least five minutes to examine their website can save you from wasted hours and a sabotaged reputation.