How to Link Bait Me

So, I got a head’s up from the proprietor of SEO Black Hat today, letting me know about a “story post” that had been written in accordance with my advice. Of course I dutifully headed on over.

The story is about Breana, an enterprising blogger on her way up. She seemed to be heading for web success, but she made one crucial mistake that proved fatal to her dreams.

You see, Breana used the most popular blogging software, WordPress. Since she had passed SEO 101, she had enabled the “Search Engine Friendly URLs” feature that rewrites the URLs to include the title of the post. Every week she did a roundup of posts she liked and titled it:

“This Week’s Best Posts.”

She linked to all the top posts and WordPress pinged the other posts for a trackback.

Unfortunately for her, WordPress rewrote her URLs as:

You see, %e2%80%99 is how wordpress encodes the apostrophe. The bigger problem than that being an ugly URL is that other WordPress blogs strip out some special characters (like %) on trackback.

The other very powerful and influential bloggers who received that trackback saw the link as:

When they clicked the link to see who was linking to them, all they got was a 404 Error Page.

Man! Were these bloggers pissed …

To make a long story short, Breana crashes and burns as a blogger, and ends up a homeless crackhead hooker. It’s all very sad.

Of course, “Breana” is a very thinly disguised reference to me.

Check out the URL of my last post. Doh!

I’ve had bloggers try to link bait me in the past by being contentious or even rude.

That’s simply not going to work with me.

But if you make me laugh…

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  1. I’ve read the post on SEOBlackHat and I though it was a very funny way to make people be aware of their trackbacks, and it made me remember your strytelling post, but I had no idea that you were Breana.

  2. Yep, that part was only intended for me to figure out. :)

  3. Too funny. What’s the fix for that, other than not using the apostrophe?

  4. It’s a two step process Tim:

    1. Notice that you’re using an apostrophe (or percent sign or quotes);

    2. Manually change the post slug (which is what WordPress calls the URL).

    I messed up at step one, and now the post have been out there too long to change it without causing other problems.

  5. Ahhh… yeah, that’s right… you can just manually fix the slug. Duh. 😉 Been enjoying reading your blog, btw – just started this past weekend (followed a link on Matt Cutts blog). Cheers.

  6. And that is what I love so much about the whole blog community: Interaction.

    This has to be one of the classier rebukes I’ve seen yet. Great job SEOBH! And thanks Brian for fessing up. I wouldn’t have learned this otherwise.

    Although I don’t seem to have this problem somehow, through no fault of my own…

  7. Wow … I had no idea that even happened. Thanks for the heads up :)

  8. Thanks Brian,

    I’m still in the throes of learning how to feed my untamed beast of a blog – anyone got a spare whip and chair handy?

    If I don’t get devoured in the process, your Viral Copy will be a most valuable source of information for step two.


  9. And there I was feeling sorry for Breana.
    Is it just me or am I seeing the same names over and over? Has the world really shrunk?

    It’s like déjà vu blogging…
    ‘Something’s changed in the system’ so says the guy in the Matrix.

  10. I actually tried it just now on my post which had an apostrophe, but when I published and went back to the post, the slug is just fine.

    My version is before the WordPress 2.0. Am I missing out something?

  11. Just to mention another little glitch for FeedBurner users: Don’t use special characters like the German äöü in your clean URLs as FB will ignore the URL at least for their FeedFlare services.

    In general you never should use spaces or quotes if they are not automatically translated to ‘-‘. Otherwise ugly %20 or %22 will show up in your URL.

  12. Thanks for the good tips. And your writing style is engaging & fun to read.

    Let’s hope those evil apostrophes stay far far away from us all.

  13. So kids, the morale of the story: “never trust automaticly encoded post slugs.” 😆

  14. Did anyone get SEOBH’s number? I wanna talk more with anyone who’s that savvy.

  15. Funny stuff, must remember: edit the slug on strange titles :)

  16. I should have known that the dreaded spaces and quotes rule would turn up if I didn’t learn my husband’s guidelines of file naming and such. It turns out to be applicable across wide swaths of territory I’d never guessed it would be. Sigh: why is it that he is always right!
    Now I’m going to have to second guess my penchant for dashes and colons for fear that they’ll be the fly in the ointment in some way yet undiscovered by me.
    Thanks for sharing your cautionary tale.

  17. Brian–this is great info regarding the post slug, but the same issue seems to apply to the post title as well. It is killing my SEO. How can I have Google recognize words with apostrophe’s in my post title?

    Here’s an example of the issue:

  18. Lesson learned… and it made me chuckle.

  19. OMG, thanks for the laugh and the lesson! And, yes, the surprise identity of Breana, too! 😀 Now I have to go and check….