How Nordstrom’s $85 Dollar Rock Contributed to Massive Link Baiting Success

When was the last time you dreamed about buying a leather-wrapped rock? If youíre feeling utterly confused by the question, you probably havenít come across a Nordstrom product that everybodyís been speaking about over the past few weeks.

What do the Nordstrom rock and link baiting have in common? A lot! The insane product has gotten so much attention lately that it has led to a massive influx of links to Nordstromís website. Hereís exactly what went on and how the campaign can be used to inspire your own link baiting efforts.

The Nordstrom Gift Rock: A Brief Overview
In December 2016, Nordstrom presented a brand new product on its website. For just 85 dollars, clients could acquire a medium-sized stone wrapped in genuine leather. According to the official presentation, the rock would make an excellent Christmas gift because it could serve a wide array of purposes.

Why go for this pricey stone instead of picking one from the street? We don’t know, and Nordstrom didn’t provide an answer either. This way, the Nordstrom rock mystery intensified.

Ever since the product’s launch, various media wrote reports about it. The stone was on Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, CNN, Mashable, Time, CBS News, Fox News, the Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Investopedia,, Teen Vogue, Esquire and just about every other massive online outlet you could imagine.

For people who couldn’t afford the 85-dollar stone in a leather pouch, Nordstrom also made a more economical version. The second one consisted of a smaller stone (in a smaller leather case) available for the modest sum of 65 dollars.

Nordstrom’s Rock in the Media and Link Baiting Success
If you go to Nordstrom’s website right now, you’ll see that the product is already out of stock. Still, the little rock in its leather pouch managed to accomplish a humongous goal in that it generated a media sensation and it also contributed to massive link baiting success.

Confused shoppers have been writing about the stone on social media ever since it appeared. The hashtag #nordstromrock on Twitter has generated thousands of tweets that rank from funny to mock reviews and even jokes (some of them linked to the product and how itís reflective of the US presidential elections!).

The rock has even gotten its own Twitter account already. Just visit NordstromRock and you’ll learn a bit more about the serious problem that the Nordstrom stone has got with Dwayne Johnson.

Google Trends also shows a marked interest in the company after its brand new product was popularized.

Searches for Nordstrom on Google vary between 40 and 50 points (on a scale to 100) for most months. In December 2016, the term reached its peak with a score of 100. Needless to say, the Nordstrom rock is to blame and its popularity was particularly high among the US audience.

Nordstrom rock also appears now among the Google search trends with an interest over time score of 88 out of 100 for December.

The campaign has also had a serious impact on the performance of the Nordstrom website. According to Alexa data, the website’s traffic rank has gone up by 185 over the past three months and its reach score has increased by 180. Currently, is getting 44.29 percent of its traffic from search and 17.48 percent of its traffic from referrals.

According to the Open Site Explorer, there are 61 top-level new links for over the past 60 days and some of the top linking domains include New York Times, Pinterest, Wall Street Journal, Mashable, The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, LA Times, Buzzfeed.

Alexa hasn’t published information about December traffic and backlinks yet but thereís been a steady increase in September and October (in comparison to figures for the summer months). The chances are that things will look even better for by the end of the year.

As a result of this massive craze, it’s not a surprise that the Nordstrom rock sold out and that it has turned into one of the most successful link baiting campaigns ever. Who knew that getting all big media to speak about you involved the creation of a virtually useless product that consists of something everyone could find on the street?

What’s Link Baiting and How did Nordstrom Make Use of it
The Nordstrom rock campaign is a classic example of link baiting. The term refers to the creation of a website page, a text or any other piece of content for the strict purpose of creating backlinks. In the case, Nordstrom is showing the world how to do link baiting like a pro. Apart from getting a massive number of backlinks, the store has gotten just about every reputable media out there to publish. Thus, it’s not just about the number of backlinks, it’s also about their quality.

Just about anything published online can be used for link baiting purposes, as long as it stimulates others to create an organic backlink.

Usually, link baiting campaigns need to feature some kind of hook in order to generate massive interest. The most common types of hooks include humorous content, a newsworthy piece of content, an informative text thatís characterized by a high level of uniqueness, a mean hook (getting people antagonized or angry about the respective piece of content) or a tool that can be used to address a specific need.

Nordstrom created a link bait in several of the mentioned ways.

For a start, people got curious about the product. They wanted to find out what it was, why it was launched and whether the company was joking. The humorous element was there, as well. Having some mystery surrounding the rock and being known for similar campaigns in the past, Nordstrom quickly created some buzz.

The previous year, Nordstrom managed to accomplish another pretty impressive inbound promotional success.

In 2015, Nordstrom announced its annual sale on Instagram. A 13,398-square foot art installation was created on the roof of the company’s Seattle store and photographed from the air. The picture was then published on Instagram and it quickly generated over 16,600 likes.

This campaign was massively spoken about, getting media coverage on AdWeek, Seattle Times, Trend Hunter, Biz Journals, eMarketer and many others. The social media reaction was massive once again.

Nordstrom is incredibly active on social media and the company is committed to collecting intelligence from all of its profiles. Obviously, the feedback that the company gets through its digital channels has contributed to incredibly successful inbound campaigns being launched year after year.

Effective Link Baiting: Companies Who are doing it Right
While the outcome of link baiting can be massively positive, such a campaign is never easy to execute. It takes a lot of marketing skills and media understanding to produce content that can get the job done.

Many have tried through the years and most of them have failed. A few brands like Nordstrom have managed to harness the amazing power of the technique and make the best of it.

The list of 101 link popularity tips published by SEOBook is a wonderful example of link baiting done right. It gives a useful report to the audience, which quickly increases the number of websites willing to share information and provide a backlink. While it was published some time ago, the report still delivers excellent link building tips today. As a result, the campaign continues delivering results.

The campaign has led to a total number of 723 linking root domains (LRD) and 2,843 backlinks. Thatís as impressive as link baiting can go.

OkCupid is one of the biggest players in the world of online dating and is another website that has shown other brands what it takes to create a successful link baiting campaign.

In 2008, OkCupid launched its free politics test. People have to answer a number of questions. Based on the information provided, the OKCupid algorithm comes up with a prediction about the political views of the test taker.

This is just one of the numerous free tests that the portal has launched. The cool thing is that you donít need to be a registered member in order to complete the respective quiz. Such campaigns work because the content is personalized and it engages with something that the audience believes in. The results can also be a little bit controversial, which is why numerous online media have made a recommendation and included a link to the OKCupid page.

The result of the campaign was LRD of 456 and a total number of backlinks reaching 1,274.

Let’s take a look at one final example of effective link baiting.

WaterUseItWisely is a website that has a pretty self-explanatory name. One of its most successful campaigns is an infographic that features more than 100 interactive suggestions for water conservation. The tips are presented in a concise manner with visuals and a couple of sentences forming each description. The content is very easy to scan through ñ something that the busy online audience adores.

The innovative presentation format and the useful information have worked together to make the WUIW campaign a massive success. The website got a total of 347 linking domains and 1,536 brand new links as a result of its efforts.

How to do Link Baiting Like Nordstrom
Are you feeling inspired by what Nordstrom has managed to accomplish? You should be! The company is a giant in the world of digital promotion and it carries out campaigns like no other.

If you want to carry out similarly effective link baiting campaigns, youíll need to focus on a number of very important tips.

In order to get results, youíll have to invest time and effort in content creation. Whether you want to shock the audience, make it laugh or question the intentions of your page, you need to have a strategy and a well-developed content plan.

Shock value for the sake of shock value isnít going to work. A high value, niche campaign is the one expected to deliver the best results. You canít just replicate something that someone has already applied to another market and expect the same results.

Offer people something new. It can be a new perspective, a new product or some new information. Publish your data in an interactive, intriguing format. The easier it is to perceive and the more innovative your presentation is, the bigger the number of backlinks youíre going to enjoy.

Next, focus on the hook. This is the one aspect of a link baiting campaign that can either make or break it.

Great data will never get the job done in the absence of a hook that makes people want to find out more. Remember that link baiting is not a type of viral marketing. In the first case, you want exposure. In the second case, you want links. A viral campaign will give you exposure (youíll get mentioned by other websites) but it may not necessarily give you a backlink. In order to get a link, you have to create something that others will be willing to recommend to their audience.

Go for a news hook, a controversial hook (Nordstrom all the way, baby!), a tool or a humor hook. A controversial hook is typically the one that’s most difficult to get right. If you accomplish the goal, however, you’ll see massive success.

Finally, remember that the success of link baiting is heavily dependent on the reception you’ll get from the audience. Start by knowing your own audience incredibly well. What excites these people? What motivates them? What makes them want to share information? Next, you may want to think about the audiences of the biggest influencers in the respective niche. In order to get others sharing your link, you have to make sure that the audience of the particular website is going to have an interest in your page or content piece.

In other words, successful link baiting involves tons of research. Take your time, brainstorm, come up with a plan and refine the concept to perfection. Don’t try to fake it and don’t attempt to replicate somebody else’s success. As tempting as campaigns like the Nordstrom rock may be, they’re not going to work for just about everyone.

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    • Ivy Grace Cartagenas
    • December 15, 2016

    nice article

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