The term ‘linkbait’ is used in SEO to describe content that is placed on a website to generate incoming links from other sites. This content can be a quality article, attractive images, interesting blog posts, funny videos, or any other source that will draw in traffic consistently to a site or page.
Link baiting techniques are possibly the most efficient way to create incoming links to your blogs and pages without having to pay for expensive advertising. They are also quite useful in creating immediate traffic and boosting your search engine rankings. Higher rankings and a growing audience has many benefits, including:
• Business sites will experience increased sales;
• Web users with RSS feeds, newsletters, email lists, etc. will notice more new subscribers;
• A vast growth in loyal readers;
• One link may lead to another, creating secondary traffic.
There are several different methods you can use to bring in traffic consistently. To name them all would be impossible, as new ones keep popping up constantly. Nevertheless, here is a list of the most widespread linkbaiting techniques currently used (note that some techniques may overlap).
1. Write Quality Articles – You do not need to stuff a site with lots of text as long as the articles you do publish are interesting and of high quality. If people like what they read, they will be back and may even re-post or tweet about it. Update your articles frequently, so your fans have a reason to visit often.
2. Web Design – Ask yourself, who would not want to be associated with an unusual, ingenious site? People love originality and will, therefore, create links to sites that have a clever and innovative web design. Be one of them!
3. Offer Tools – offer useful, current and free tools that other websites might use and can mention thereby pointing back to your site. A wonderful example of such a tool is the one developed by Dane Carlson on his Business Opportunities blog. You simply type in your blog’s URL, and in seconds, this free tool will tell you how much it is worth.
4. Create Tests, Surveys & Quizzes – People love quizzes, surveys and tests, so use this knowledge to your advantage. If they are set up properly, they can become quite viral.
5. Organise Contests – Similar to tests, surveys and quizzes, contests are quite popular with readers. Organize a contest many people can participate in. Make it competitive and offer an attractive prize. The more valuable the reward, the higher the participation rate.
6. Participate in Awards – While not all awards are effective, many will generate a generous buzz with lots of traffic, and as a result, many incoming links. Awards can be beneficial on a number of levels. They will generate links because:
- Participants will generate links to pursue people who will vote for them
- Winners will generate links to create opportunities to tell people of their victory
7. Be a pioneer – Be the first and create a niche no-one else has set up. Come up with an original idea, a new catch phrase, a brand new web tool,… something nobody else has, and you will generate traffic like you have never seen before. Being second, third, etc. will also generate traffic, but far less.
8. Know what is in demand – Sensationalism is like a magnet, thus use it to your advantage. Create a section on your site for breaking news updates, scoops and scandals. You can also expose fraud cases, and warn people of the latest scams.
9. Publish a Press Release – Be proud of your achievements, especially if you are first. It is a breaking story you can publish on your own site, as well as on sites created especially for press releases. People are curious, and before long, your traffic will increase.
10. Podcast – By podcasting you can give your credibility and incoming links an incredible boost. Giving tips, launching tutorials, and spreading the news on topics related to your industry or field of expertise is a great way to attract the attention of bloggers and have them linking to you.
11. Make Lists – People seem to love lists and ‘how to’ blogs. Content that is broken down is easier to read and comprehend – just check out “Delicious” and “Digg.” As many websites are starting to use this approach, be original in your set up if you want many links!
12. Be Funny – If you want great linkbait, find a humorous edge. People enjoy daring cartoons, hilarious photos, amusing videos, witty stories and funky titles. Sarcasm can also work well but be sure that your tone isn’t offensive so as to put of too many people.
13. Create an internet celebrity – Many people want to be famous, so give them the opportunity to be discovered. You can organize a contest, or offer participants a chance to display their talents. The bigger the prize, the more incoming links will appear on the web. Sometimes you may even stumble on an internet sensation.
14. Start a community – The desire to ‘belong’ is embedded in human nature, therefore, setting up a community people feel connected to can bring great benefits. Prime examples are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. You too can create a site or discussion forum where members with similar interests can post messages and comments. Be sure to have a representation on the other major social networks as well.
15. Express yourself – Well-written rants and other ‘shock’ tactics can attract a lot of attention, especially from people who have the same opinions (or the complete opposite) about a certain issue. A passionate tirade or a controversial idea mentioned in your blogs and articles will generate heaps of links, but can also produce plenty of responses ( and criticisms) from your loyal followers. Be prepared for those reactions by setting time aside to follow up on those comments!
16. Pick a fight – If you do not agree with another blogger or competitor, you can always try to pick a fight and hope someone will ‘bite’ back. This is a risky linkbait approach, which may come back to haunt you some day if not orchestrated properly. Take the extra links, but do not destroy your opponent and be prepared to receive some heavy ‘fire’ yourself!
17. Produce Research and Statistics – If you can spare the time, conduct your own studies. It is worth the effort, as interesting and original research results and statistics are quite popular. Your original findings can be used as illustrations by yourself, like-minded bloggers and sympathetic website owners.
18. Give free stuff away – Everyone likes to receive presents and free stuff. It is a fact that has been proven many times over by experts, as well as talk show hosts like Oprah. Who could ever forget that day she surprised all her audience members with a free car? It created such a buzz that people are still talking about it even after all this time. Of course, not everyone has that kind of money to throw around, but there has to be something valuable you or perhaps one of your sponsors can give to your fans, even if it is only a free, practical program.
19. Write Useful Pieces – Although this technique may overlap with some of those listed above, it is worth mentioning on its own. Writing attractive and unique content is part of any successful SEO strategy, as it will not only increase the amount of incoming links, but will also give your rankings a nice boost. Quality writing is important, but will not help you to succeed in reaching your goals if it is not beneficial or interesting to your readers. Consequently, pick your topics wisely. Give useful advice, entertain your audience, circulate improvement information, and show your fans how they can master certain tasks.
20. Be Hip – The URLs of cool websites, blogs and pages are always generously passed around. You too can be inventive and come up with ideas to make your work stand out! Be inspired by the sites you personally like, and those most popular in your industry.
It is impossible to deliver a complete list of linkbait techniques, as new practices and ideas are regularly discovered. These tips that we have presented to you will, at least, give you a good start in your efforts to promote yourself, and strategically increase your web traffic through linkbaiting. Use the tactics you feel comfortable with, always respect your ethics, and never do anything you will regret later on or that may damage your reputation.