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Hooked on Link Baiting

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 18 February 2008 18:10

Your Content; the ultimate link building tool

There is a lot of grumbling these days about how search engines value (or have devalued) various types of back links. One thing you may start to notice is that many people are attached to the external or offsite link building practices and have forgotten the ability of on-site work that can harness even greater powers from within. With the proliferation of Social Media Marketing, (SMM) there are many new ways to get that great content the exposure needed to garner multifaceted link love. Considering that some of my recent posts addressed the cross-over areas of SMM and SEO, it seems a discussion of Link Bait is a logical direction for me to go next.

Link Bait, in simplest terms, merely means creating content that others would want to link to (tell others about) in some way (in a forum, on a blog, a social media site and so forth). This dual citizenship (of SMM and SEO) makes it all the more an area of interest for the modern web marketer.The true power of a link baiting program is that the links are generally diversified and natural. One of the most important aspects of a well rounded link profile is natural editorial links. When done right, link bait activities can build a very natural link profile which is an essential ingredient in the recipe. So how do we get them? Let’s take a ride through some of the more popular approaches;


Link Spam Assassin


Let us count the ways…

For this offering I went through some classic link bait posts as well as what I could dredge up from abyss of my memory and experience to put together a list that seems to cover most of the major tactics… at the end is (as always) a good list of other posts on the topic…. Enjoy!


The News Hook - obviously one of the most important areas of the Blog-o-sphere is news. Being timely and covering industry hot topics can be a great way of not only participating in the community but encouraging links.

Relevance – writing about current industry news helps put you in the stream of information flow and increases the chances of being picked up (linked to) by other writers. Monitor you industry and work on temporal themes that already have traction in the community.

Temporal – Getting a ‘Scoop’ is always a bonus as one would imagine and can garner a great number of links in the short term. There is often a drop off over time with such posts unlike bait such as a tool might have; none the less a great advantage if you can get it.


 The Resource Hook - one of the best types of content creation for encouraging inbound links s resources. If you take your time and create a truly useful page if can have a long life cycle of natural inbound links in its profile.

Research & Statistics – if you commit some time to creating content that provides insight into the market through compiled research or statistical data, it is sure to be welcomed and linked to. You can even combine baiting tactics by choosing a controversial topic and you are well on the way to a link love-in.  

Valuable – creating a post that can be used or implemented by the end user is also another great tactic. Any type of DIY element that is not only of interest to the end user but easily applied into their efforts is always a smart idea. This creates value and encourages readers to share it with others (via link).

Lists – I have never been a huge fan of lists as they have become so common and often devoid of value that it seems over-done. Regardless, if you craft a good list that incorporates other hooks (controversy, humor, resources) then please do so with my blessings. Often people are interested in scanning material and a concise and valuable (or entertaining) list can be just the ticket. Use it wisely….


 The Freebie Hook – obviously it goes without saying that folks just LOVE free stuff.

Free Tools – many markets have online tools that are used as a service to their visitors. You can try and have one created that is better than what exists now or come up with an idea of your own; either way it is a great form of link bait. Done well, this has a longer life cycle than some of the other methods. The main concern here can be server loads and associated costs. Be sure to consider this when creating your link building program.

Give something away – think of it as an exercise in loss-leader. You can offer a variety of goodies such as free ebooks, promotional items, white papers and more. The greater the give-away the greater the link love (when promoted well). The link types can vary depending on the give-away, temporal values should be considered in the over-all plan.

By Design – you can always consider either creating or having designed for you, things such as a WordPress theme, widgets or other freebies that others can use in exchange for your embedded link of course.


 The Passion Hook - Another area of note is the ability to light the fires and stomp the bushes. If we get people excited in either a positive or negative way, they tend to link. This is also an area that is great for creating dialogue in the community. Some of the finer points include;

the Rand-Gates AffairControversy – you are almost always guaranteed to strike up a conversation and encourage links from both supporters and those that disagree with your views. The art is doing it tactfully as to not blow up in a Bad PR nightmare. I also wouldn’t over-do it with this tactic, to be used sparingly.

The Slap – another common tactic, though not one I am a big fan of, is to attack another industry type in the hopes of starting a little tit-for-tat with them and their supporters. I don’t mind a good debate, but outright attacks aren’t really in my line. Some markets bare this nonsense better than others.

Black & White – it is often a good tactic to take a contrary viewpoint to a hot topic or recent posting of other industry resources. This often gets both supporters as well as detractors linking to you. The life cycle is generally shorter, but that can depend on the shelf life of the topic at hand.

Exposé – there is always an interest out there for pieces that debunk common standards, bring awareness to scammers or other shadowy diatribes that bring to light real or contrived fears in the market. People just love a good conspiracy…. These links tend to be front loaded and peter off as they are usually about topics that are temporal in nature.

Rants – this one is obviously close to my heart and I don’t know if it is just me, but I do enjoy watching some one go off the deep end on a given topic. As long as it doesn’t come completely apart with the anger, they are often good bait as well. There seems to be that; ‘can’t turn away from the car crash’ elements that people tend to enjoy. These links can have a fairly long life cycle as other like minded ranters come across your page.


Ego Bait Hooks – people are generally drawn to ways they can test themselves, win something or otherwise feel valued in the world in general. There are a few ways that we can go about creating some link worthy wonderment such as;

Rate Me – creating pages with test, quizzes and other ways for the user to measure themselves always goes over big. Beyond their buzz love you can also find folks linking to it when they DON’T agree with your methodology. These often have a longer life cycle than most methods, depending on the temporal nature of the market you’re working with.

Contests – from a freebie give-away to more competitive type contests, it can be a worthwhile endeavor. The links tend to have a shorter life cycle as the buzz is usually at the beginning and at the end. Due to the temporal nature, the longevity of the program is limited.

Awards – this is another one that is not a personal favorite, as it seems over done in some industries, but also worth looking at. These are generally held at the end /beginning of each year and tend to generate some excitement among those you have nominated and their followers. This alone can generate some good traction for them. They have a medium life cycle and can trickle in new links over the course of the year.

User Input – you can also create links by asking your readership to give you input or opinions on a given topic. You can ask for help in the form of surveys and blog comments or even ask some fellow industry bloggers to guest post or otherwise get involved. When you create a relationship with the readers often a long life cycle link love affair ensues.


The Humor Hook - They say laughter is the best medicine so this bait is pure love in both directions. This is also a personal favorite of mine as I have always been a bit of a class clown and I usually enjoy creating this kind of content.

Video – if you can come up with a good video idea from an industry parody or maybe bloopers from presentations and conventions it is often well worth the time and effort. The life cycle of most humor bait is pretty long and should be taken into account with production. A well done piece can have a long shelf life.

Graphic – from cartoons to illustrations and Photoshopped industry type’s one can have all kinds of fun with graphics that can be relatively easy to produceand have a long shelf life as link bait, a great tactic.

Satire – making fun of industry figures, leaders and even bringing external influences in can be entertaining and very link-able. I don’t advice going over the top with this, but try and find that fine line between what is tolerable and funny to what is in bad taste… and you will have a winner. Once more, these tend to have links that continue to trickle in well past publication.


Friends, Surfers and Countrymen… send me your beers

I think it is important to note the tenor in posts such as GarryConn’s. There are those that think that LinkBait is a dirty word; with reason. As with any weapon in the arsenal use it wisely and respectfully at all times. We can all be a jack ass… that is not a talent. We can all be offensive; it is not a sign of control. Link Bait, when done properly it is nothing more than an effort of passion placed for public scrutiny. Take it for what it should be, not for when it is misused.

Link bait is all about the content. This does not necessarily mean that each and every page you put up should be constructed as bait, instead one can look at these concepts when creating content and try to leverage some of the theories whenever possible. Other times content could be completely contrived with the link baiting angles in mind. It is simply another tool in the kit to have available in your over-all SEO programs.

I think this also illustrates that when the people creating the content get separated from the link builders, as often happens in many situations in SEO, there are great opportunities being missed that an aligned effort could yield. The same can be said of ensuring your Social Media Marketing is in line with the over-all link profile development. Each en every piece of content that goes onto the site is a chance to entice a few more links…. Which never hurts the over all effort…

Maybe content really is king?

 “I hereby claim that content can be both white-hat and yet still be wonderful “bait” for links (e.g. Danny’s spam email analysis). And generating information or ideas that people talk about is a surefire way to generate links.” -- Posted by Matt Cutts – (Link Spam Assassin)

 Still want more? Can do, here are a bunch of goodies I came across to keep you edu-tained for awhile,(nothing like a good list of resources huh?).

 the Art of Link Baiting and Are You Writing Content That Attracts Links – Nick Wilson;

Hooks Revisited - StuntDubl

Link Baiting Strategies and Linkbait is the new Reciprocal links page – Aaron Wall

Andy Hagen’s Ultimate Guide to Link Baiting – Tropical SEO

Five Simple Link Bait Metrics and Reputation Link bait and Links that can’t be baited – SearchEngineLand

Link Baiting; 96 Different Strategies and

Can LinkBait Mature – Bruce Clay

Link Bait is a Science; Or not – the Link Spiel

Which Hook Attracts the right fish and Do you control the link flow or 301 it all? - Wiep

Creating User Generated Link Bait – Marketing Pilgrim

7 Ways to promote your content as linkbait – Search Engine Watch

When Link Bait Goes Wrong – Search Engine Journal

Link bait is about creating the spectacle and the TAO of Link Bait - Cornwall SEO

SES 2007; Link Baiting Viral Search Marketing – Top Rank

Link Building and Social Media – Link Building is Social Media

5 Types Of Linkbaits That Actually Work – Blogging Bits

 ….. and if U made it this far?? WOW… U rock. What can I say but; Stay Tuned for more.



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