Proper web promotions can make a huge difference when it comes to generating traffic to your websites. This is one thing that has not changed even as the web itself has gone through all kinds of technological changes. The evolution of Internet marketing has definitely involved the discovery of many different tactics and strategies, but one of the most interesting has to be link baiting. This is a unique strategy that works today just like it did years ago when it began to first be practiced. Some would argue that the strategy is even more effective now with a far larger number of people online and socializing. In case you have not yet heard of link bait, don’t worry because we’re about to cover not only what it is, but how it works and why it’s so effective for those doing search engine optimization (SEO) as well as other kinds of online marketing. In addition, we are going to look at the various kinds of link bait that you can make yourself or who to turn to if you need help creating link bait.
Once we are finished, you are going to see how link baiting fits into a solid marketing strategy that can be very helpful for anyone with products or services that they’re looking to sell as well as those who want to promote themselves, a cause they support or an organization they’re affiliated with.
The Definition of Link Bait
The easiest way to come to an understanding of what link bait is would be to look at it literally as anything on a website that could trigger a desire in someone to link to the site or specific thing that caught their eye. This is almost always going to be content of some kind, but there are exceptions to this rule such as a tool the site provides, for example. The point of producing link bait is to literally bait people into building a link to what caught their interest. As simple as it sounds, this is probably one of the most complex ways to try to get links to a site, but the pay off comes when it actually works. Because when effective link bait is released, it often works like crazy and triggers a huge number of totally legitimate incoming links.
If you are trying to promote any kind of website, link baiting is a strategy to consider because it can be relatively low-cost and if it goes viral, the profit potential is sky-high – provided your strategy attracted the right kind of attention from consumers who are actually interested in buying what you have to sell. Good link bait should act like good PR and often to get it to take off you will need to try to get it in front of the eyes of those who can help it spread. If you can do that, there are far higher odds that it will land in the right channels of your niche and get carried far and wide, bringing in links and – far more importantly – the right audience for what your site has to offer.
One thing that sets link bait apart from other strategic tools that a marketer can use is that it is more passive, designed to bring in links and traffic by doing what all good content does: provide value to the audience up front. What makes link bait different, though, is that it is designed to be such useful or interesting content that it makes people want to point it out to others. There are a number of different ways this can be approached, but the bottom line is that all link bait is intended to be so good it generates its own publicity. When done right, it can be remarkably effective and shares much in common with viral videos even though those are not always intended to bring people to a website.
Search engines anf link bait
One reason for the rising interest in link bait in recent years is the restrictions that search engines have imposed upon linking strategies by making changes to their algorithms and acceptable linking policies. This has put pressure on marketers to try to find ways to get links to come their way without having to violate any standards and thereby get their sites penalized. Link baiting is likely to continue to remain a key strategy for many of those in marketing because it has effects that reach well beyond building links and is a core concept that offers a lot of value without needing to necessarily be expensive to perform.
As you research more about link bait, you will see that there are two primary categories that link bait can fall into. In one category there is link bait that is designed to attract immediate attention by connecting with something that is currently trending in the search engines or across social media. This kind of link bait is generally more attention grabbing and its effects may subside once what it is focused around has faded in popularity. The other category is for link bait that is designed to provide a lasting value for years, being evergreen in nature and hopefully encouraging links for as long as it remains on your site. Both of these types of link baiting are a good idea to practice as part of an overall marketing strategy although there will be times when one kind of link bait is preferable to another.
What Makes People Respond to Link Bait?
The psychology behind link bait involves taking into account that people not only respond positively to good quality content, they have a natural tendency to want to spread it. The fact is, we like to take credit for finding good things and sharing them with others. This is something that drives the curation of content that many people perform via social media, linking others to interesting, funny or informational things they find. Social media have certainly encouraged this behavior because it made it so much easier to share content that we find worthwhile.
There are many different types of link bait and in some cases, a person may link to what they discover because it mentions either themselves or something they care about. In other cases, they may cite an article or other content posted as link bait because it was particularly informative. The natural urge to spread what we like or what helps us is what allows link bait to gain momentum and pull in those incoming links that we all appreciate so much.
In the end, there are as many reasons that people respond to link bait as there are types of people and types of link bait, too. The job of the marketer is to figure out these things by having a thorough grasp of their audience and what interests them. This is essential and it can help your link baiting in a big way. Of course, it’s also a smart idea to know your market no matter what strategy you’re using, but with link baiting you do need a deeper handle on the psychology of your core audience. Once you know more about them and how they think, it is going to be far easier to design the right material to get them linking to your site, talking about it publicly and recommending it to people even offline. That’s the real goal of great link baiting.
There Are Many Types of Link Bait That Can Produce Results
Link baiting is a strategy that has been around for a very long time so there are numerous ways that marketers have developed to do it. The bottom line is always to produce good content with a catchy headline that people will be attracted to and creating that headline well is extremely important as a key step. A ‘hook’ that really gets the reader to respond is also needed and it should be something that they did not quite expect that really makes your link bait stand out from the crowd, a twist that adds dimension and increases interest. Visual elements like illustrations, photos or a video can add to the appeal of your link bait, too, and you should consider enhancing written content with these elements if you want it to stand out even more.
The way you stand out does have some bearing on why and how your content is linked to and, hopefully, ends up getting shared. Informational link bait is perhaps the most common kind of link bait out there and the point of this is definitely fairly obvious. Remember, though, link bait has to be more than just information which a person can find through searching the web or turning to a site like Wikipedia. It needs to be genuinely outstanding information that meets needs or is in some way more fascinating that what else can be found online. You need to know your niche well in order to craft effective link bait of this kind, but if you do know your niche and you make excellent informational link bait then you can expect good results.
News is another type of link bait that is not designed to be evergreen and is more focused on getting attention immediately and being linked to quickly. Some people will use curated content and try to put an interesting spin on it as a way of engaging in link baiting and this can work if it’s done well. Do remember that unless the news comes from you, your company or organization, it is not likely to generate quite the same response as it would if it was original news. Again, knowing your niche is going to come in handy with this approach so do try to make sure you are connected to the ‘pulse’ of your prospective audience if you go with news as link bait.
Comedy can be a great form of link bait and provided it suits what you are trying to promote, this can be a good way to get links that you might not have gotten if your link bait was not funny. Of course, comedy is not something everyone can pull off with finesse so do consider that if you are making this kind of link bait. Of course, the humor still needs to show whatever it is you are trying to promote in a positive light and help people gain an interest in it or you will merely get links and traffic that is not interested in doing business with you, but is just coming in due to the comedy factor. As long as you are especially careful, it is possible to employ comedic link bait for strong results and even expose a brand widely and generate a bigger audience.
Infographics are another form of link bait that have a history of performing well for those who use them and if you are looking to gain a wider audience, this can be a good way to do it. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is often true and bloggers particularly seem to like this form of link bait because they can use it to base posts of their own around. If you have the means to design infographics that really do provide value to the visitor then this can be an outstanding way to generate links to your site.
Those who can design a useful tool, even if it is not particularly glamorous, can do well using it as link bait if they know it is something their audience can use. People do spread things that are useful to them and software tools often fit this description. If you focus your tool on what your niche audience can use then you will definitely see strong results. When properly done, this style of link baiting can result in enormous success and has worked for those that have the skills or resources needed to make it happen.
Bad about link baiting
There is also the ‘dark side’ of link baiting that some marketers will employ. This can be a powerful form of link baiting, but you do need to be careful with it. With this kind of link bait, the purpose is to focus negative attention on a topic, product or other focal area and usually say something derogatory or to flat-out say something that you know those viewing the link bait will find to be unpopular. The point is often to shock the reader and get them to link to your site based on their surprise at what you have said.
Some marketers will even create this kind of link bait as a negative review of their own, or an associate’s, product to capture the attention of those who are worried the product might not live up to its hype. When used correctly, this can be a great way to end up saying something positive about what you sell. You can also use this type of negative link bait as a way to draw attention to a genuine problem or issue that deserves attention, then mentioning why your site is a resource to help combat this problem through products, services or whatever it is that you’re promoting.
Why Link Baiting Matters in Terms of SEO Today
For those that are working to SEO their site, link bait can be a very effective means of doing this and it is one where marketers often encounter a lot less resistance. The fact is, it is just plain difficult to build quality links these days and link baiting can get the job done without the need to try to ask site owners to link to your site. That is a very time-consuming process and certainly is going to be one which you can not possibly guess results for. With link baiting, you can have some sense of how likely it is your content will get incoming links once you release it online.
Companies often find that getting links to purely commercial sites is difficult and that people are not nearly as likely to reply to requests for links to these types of sites. This is why link bait can be more effective in the business world. It can get past people’s natural disinclination to advertise a business and focus them on how the content has helped or entertained them. If you run a business and you need links this will definitely be a smarter route to go and is generally going to be cheaper for you than purchasing a great deal of ads, even if you have to outsource the creation of the link bait in order to get the best results.
Finally, you need to remember that easy to get links often have little value in terms of SEO. This leads people to try to manipulate the search engines by purchasing or otherwise trying to obtain swarms of low value links or engaging in other less than ethical schemes. With link bait you do not need to do this and you can focus your time, energy and resources on developing quality link bait that produces long or short-term results – whatever you need for your promotional strategy at the time.
Link Baiting’s Core Concept is Useful for Internet Marketing in General
While link bait itself is a specific kind of content created to get links to your site, the concept which drives it is one that can be useful for just about any kind of marketer. When you can grab people’s attention and get them spreading your brand or the content your brand has released to the public, then you are succeeding at marketing. This is a good way to think about your marketing efforts because when you utilize the link bait mindset the right way, it is going to produce very powerful results for you.
Remember, too, that this kind of thinking is smart for social media. Even if you do not particularly care about links per se, you can still benefit from word of mouth and to get that to happen, you need to design catchy content with a ‘hook’ of one kind or another. So, really, link baiting can be done different ways to generate traffic even if links are not your primary goal.
Some Sites Benefit From Outsourcing Their Link Bait Campaigns
Not everyone is going to be good at producing effective, high quality link bait and that is just fine. Marketers outsource all kinds of content and there is no reason that you can’t outsource your link bait. In fact, by doing this you may end up saving yourself money because you are saving time that can be used to do the tasks in your business that you excel at. This philosophy has helped a lot of people in business to get ahead and not become bogged down on time-consuming tasks that do not actually produce profit even though they look as if they are reducing expenses. In the long-term, outsourcing your link bait could produce better results and be the smarter long-term strategy.
If you do plan to outsource link bait then you will want to work with content creators that know this type of content and how important it is to have a catchy headline, a great hook and, of course, excellent quality content. Some firms will be better at this than others and you might consider asking around or researching to see if you can find a good outlet for this kind of content. Always check out the reputation of any firm or team you work with to make sure they have a positive track record for providing good results with link bait before you purchase anything or, and sometimes this can be better, talk directly with those people and find out more about how they approach link baiting.
A Caution Against Overly Manipulative or Unethical Link Baiting
We do need to emphasize that you must be careful about link bait, especially when you are going the ‘dark side’ route and introducing negativity. If not properly constructed, this kind of link bait could damage your business’s reputation or otherwise raise the ire of individuals online and create a backlash. The same applies to comedy as not everyone has the same sense of humor. This is yet another reason why outsourcing your link bait to professionals could be a smart idea.
You always want to be careful about mentioning anyone in your link bait as a means of getting them to link to your content or site. While this can be effective, you do not want to be seen as ‘desperate’ and undo the good that otherwise sound link bait strategy could do for you. Try to exercise common sense and not to give in to the temptation to be clever or manipulative in your link baiting. Take the time to check out successful link bait that others have made in the past and really examine it to make sure that you understand how it works. The last thing you want to do is create problems or generate publicity that does your site more harm than good.
In general, as long as you are careful and thoughtful about any link bait you use to promote your site, everything should be fine. Always put the needs of your business first and do what you can to make sure your link bait really does benefit your audience, encouraging them to link to it. The golden rule applies here and you should always try to distribute only content that you yourself would like to encounter.
Remember Link Baiting is Only a Piece of a Total Content Marketing Strategy
Now, as effective as link bait can be, it is not usually going to be the only aspect of marketing you practice and today it is more important than ever to develop a full marketing strategy if you are serious about doing business or any kind of real promotion online. Put effort into finding a good, consistent way to market what you have to offer and make sure that you are paying close attention to quality as well as any changes in your industry or the way that people are using the web. Marketing of any kind, including link baiting, takes time to get good at.
Those who incorporate link baiting well into their overall strategy and focus on developing a real authority site are a lot better positioned to generate links and bring in steady traffic. Use metrics with your link bait and measure its effectiveness just as you would any other marketing strategy. When you aim to establish authority in your niche, develop a sound and intelligent content marketing strategy where link baiting is just a piece of your overall strategy, you are bound to see success even if it takes time. If long-term success on the web is what you’re after, this is a great way to achieve it.