For those of you that have not encountered the term before, link baiting is the process of creating content on your website with the specific purpose of attracting links on other websites and via social media.
Not only are external links to your website likely to increase traffic and bring your website to a new audience, high quality backlinks are also used by Google as an indicator that your website is more relevant than those without backlinks. Thus Google may favour your website in the search results for a given search term.
Link baiting can be pretty tricky these days, as there is high competition for attention on the Internet. It is therefore essential that you take time to consider your link baiting strategy and brainstorm ideas. Once you have chosen the kind of link bait you are going to use, it is also imperative that the execution is spot on. Link baiting as a form of gaining backlinks is by no means a ‘quick cheat’. It requires a lot of thought, time and effort.
Whatever your industry, there are tried and tested methods for successful link baiting. Let’s take a look at some of those in more detail…
1. It’s in the image – we all know a picture tells a thousand words. A controversial, surprising, beautiful, clever or original image can really attract attention and get people sharing.
This post ‘How Not to Clean a Window’ on the Master Cleaners blog features images of what the title suggests. These photos that often evoke a shocked reaction in viewers even made it to Yahoo’s homepage and received 477K StumbleUpon hits. Master Cleaners utilise this type of post well throughout their site and it is a great example of how any business can utilise relevant link baiting.
2. Laughter is the best medicine – a genuinely funny relevant story is hot property in link baiting terms. Asylum.com’s ‘My Day in Jeggings’ article is a winner. The story that was published on the site in 2010 is an account of Marty Beckerman purchasing jeggings and wearing them for the day. Interspersed with hilarious images, the witty text is laugh out loud and received no less than 5300 Facebook ‘likes’ and hundreds of comments. If you can find a funny anecdote that is relevant to your target audience, you could be onto a good thing.
3. Lists – ‘Top 3…’, ’10 Ways to…’, 5 Things you should…’, ‘101 Tips for…’ ‘The A-Z of…’- the list goes on! These type of posts are great because they deliver information in a clearly laid out structure and can get across a lot of information in a very succinct way. Readers can also quickly pick out the information that appeals to them.
The ‘100 Ways to Conserve Water’ list on wateruseitwisely.com proved extremely popular, with literally hundreds of linking domains and thousands of social shares. This list does exactly what it says on the tin and the subject matter addresses a universal issue – our global need to conserve water. Each tip on the list is only a couple of lines long, concise and easy to apply. Thus anyone accessing the list feels that they can easily pick out a few of the tips that they may actually be able to follow.
4. Breaking News – Being the first to break a relevant news story can be a great way of getting noticed. Not only will it pique the interest of readers, it may also put you on the map as a company that is on the pulse of what is going on in your field. This is probably the hardest type of link bait but if you are in the position to be able to do it, the rewards could be vast.
5. Original Research Results – If you are in a position to conduct research and publish your findings, this can be link bait gold. Anyone can regurgitate old data but by publishing your own, you will show that you are proactive. Being new data, others will be keen to spread the word for you. You may also want to provide downloadable documents which permits others to use your data providing they name you as the source.
OkCupid’s research into how the qualities of a profile picture (such as time of day taken, camera taken on etc) can affect your perceived attractiveness by others. The article, ‘Don’t be Ugly by Accident’, received over 23K Facebook likes and nearly 6.5K Tweets. This article got people’s attention because it was imaginative, innovative and rather tongue in cheek. Not only that, but it had a very wide appeal. Although it is about Internet dating profile photos, the same rules can be applied to any social networking profile picture and thus users widely shared the information with their social networks. Additionally controversial ‘findings’ like ‘iPhone users have more sex’ got tongues wagging on many mainstream blogs.
6. Infographics – Still hugely popular both with company blogs and their followers. An infographic is essentially a visual representation of certain statistics, information or data. Because they are visual, they can quickly gain attention and often convey lots of information in a condensed format. If you are going to create an infographic, make sure it is relevant and interesting to your target audience.
Search Engine Journal’s infographic, ‘The Growth of Social Media’ tracks the rise and rise of social media of recent years. It contains various graphs and pictograms displaying statistics on different social media platforms. Not only is the subject matter and the way it is presented extremely noteworthy, Search Engine Journal have also kindly provided a downloadable PDF and the code for embedding the infographic in your own website – how very noble of them!
This one was a winner in 2011, receiving over 2500 Tweets, 1500 Facebook likes plus ample recommendations on Google+ and shares on LinkedIn.
7. Offer something free – like a tool, graphic, resource or widget. We all want something for ourselves and getting something for free is often too tempting to resist. A great thing about downloadable tools or resources is that you can include a credit and link to your own website. Thus if others want to include your provision on their own website, you will be acknowledged as the source and receive links.
SkyBet’s ‘Look Busy Button’ is a great free tool. This clever and funny tool is designed to make employees look like they are doing work when in fact they are doing something else, like betting. Obviously this one is quite tongue in cheek and not really a useful tool but it surely got a lot of shares.
8. Video – video has been proven to be one of the most engaging tools online. The success of YouTube shows how much we love video. Posting a funny, informative or otherwise entertaining video can be an extremely effective way of getting backlinks. It could be anything from a ‘how to’ or tutorial to an interview or perhaps something more adventurous like a mock infomercial.
The ‘Will it Blend’ videos from Blendtec have gone viral. The most popular which was posted in 2010 and shows an ipad being blended, received over 129 million views and counting. These videos have really captured people’s attention. What is great about this series of videos is that they are humorous, relevant to the product and their ability to hook people in and get them coming back for the next instalment. If you get it right, video can really attract attention, put you on the map and dramatically increase your traffic and search engine rankings.
Where to Promote your Links
Don’t forget, you need people to find your content in the first place. Here are a few ideas of where and how to get noticed.
1. Social media – share across as many platforms as possible include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr
2. Social bookmarking – post links to sites such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious
3. Social buttons on post – allow others the opportunity to share your content through social media outlets by providing buttons to do so on your post. Once shared, your link will be visible to the respective networks of the sharers.
4. If you link to other websites in your post, let that website know. If for example you do a post of your top 5 free online online tools, contact the 5 to let them know that they have been included. You never know, they may well wish to include a link to your post on their website or at the very least, through their social media streams.
Link baiting is perhaps one of the most creative areas of search engine optimisation so have fun with it. If you’ve got any more ideas or examples of great link baits, please do share them in the comments below.