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Linkbait Explained – Natural Link Building Through Quality

Linkbait Explained – Natural Link Building Through Quality

Linkbait is a term that we in the SEO business like to use very often. I noticed that there are tons of bloggers out there talking about linkbaits and linkbaiting but every so often I actually see a true linkbait from someone that isn’t already a linkbait in name, like Rand Fishkin or Darren Rowse, or websites like SEOmoz, Wikipedia or Mashable. From the last post you can see that most SEO experts will tell you one thing that Google always said, and that is quality content is the most important thing all of us need to work on. So when you think like that, your website can become a linkbait in time, just like the ones mentioned above, but this is an advice you can rarely hear.

It’s not bad to focus on single linkbait ideas going from content to infographics and apps, but if your website offers plenty of things that help people, resources, good advice and generally high quality content, in a year or two your website can hold the title of linkbait. So before we explain linkbait and linkbaiting methodology I want to give you a simple advice once again, focus on quality content all the time, as it will get you links for sure.

Content:

Types of Linkbait:

-          Resource Hook

-          News Hook

-          Attack Hook

-          Contrary Hook

-          Humor Hook

-          Incentive Hook

-          Ego Hook

Content Types of Linkbait

How to Brainstorm a Linkbait Idea

Promoting Linkbait

Things to Keep in Mind

Linkbait Resources

linkbait

Source: HubSpot

Types of Linkbait

There are many types of linkbait we can use at any point. Depending on your online persona you might be more comfortable with some of them. While all of them are useful and tend to get links, not all of them can be used by each and every one of us.

Resource Hook

resource hookThis is probably the most used hook on the web and the favorite type of linkbait for many webmasters. While it can become very powerful over time this one can be hard to promote if you are not a well known person online or if your website is not well visited. Also, there are just too many of them out there so it’s getting harder and harder to think of a good resource hook linkbait.

The greatest benefit of a resource hook is that if you keep it updated with time as things change you can be sure to have plenty of links swarm in, basically, you can create an evergreen linkbait. The best part is that this type of linkbait tends to get massive amount of links over time, if you create a valuable resource that targets a large audience than with each new generation of webmasters you can get new links from new root domains.

But it’s not all lovely; it is very hard to create a valuable resource linkbait. You need to do plenty of research and in the end you need to provide something new. Just compiling other people’s research into one big resource is not going to cut it anymore; you need to add to it to make it appealing. One other thing to remember is that content format in which you present your resource linkbait is also a valuable factor that can make the difference between successful linkbaiting and failure. But we will talk about content types of linkbait a bit later.

News Hook

news hookThis one doesn’t need to be explained particularly. We all tend to link to important news in our niche, which is exactly the idea behind news hooks. There are massive news websites like Times, but you can’t compete with them. On the other hand if you go specific and provide valuable news for a certain topic you can create some value and get links.

The benefit is obvious, if you are the first one to publish certain news your website will be swarmed with visitors and links, people will cite you as a source and your traffic will bloom with each passing day and news published. A certain popular site we all visit frequently has a great strategy for being the first one to publish news, and that is promote it first even if you don’t have it.

What they actually do is write a short summary of the ground breaking news, even 150 words does the trick. As soon as that is live they tweet it, share it, digg it, stumble it and what not. If you visit the same page 10 minutes later you have a post of 500 words, 10 more minutes later you have a few images and links to sites and sources, 10 more minutes you have a full news article with all the details, images and videos. So they were the first one to publish it, and in most cases that is what it takes to run a successful news hook, be ahead of the game, so this one can be pretty tough for most.

Attack Hook

attack hookAttack hook is my least favorite one, but people still use it in a great way. Peter Shankman just recently had an article that attacks “social media expert” which has 2,000 likes, 1,500 tweets, 300 comments and a mass of links in 3 days. So it is obvious it works well, but for something like this you need to be a known figure to have this type of effect. Although being anonymous also has great advantages if your attack has some value behind it and is well targeted, this is the type of stuff that can catapult your name in social media circles.

But I wouldn’t advice this type unless you really know what you are doing. You can make plenty of enemies this way, not to mention that you can make yourself look stupid if you try something like an attack hook without doing proper research to back up your claims. Be 100% sure if you want to use this hook as it can backfire on you easily.

Contrary Hook

contrary hookWhen there is an attack hook very soon a contrary hook will follow. The same was applied to the above mentioned attack of Peter Shankman, it was replied with a great contra by Rand Fishkin clearly stating why people should hire social media experts. Now this started a great debate and now is currently one of the most popular topics in the past 24 hours, and will sure get a number of links for both of them. Rand will get links for his contrary hook, but at the same time he is in a way promoting Peter’s linkbait.

The idea can be applied easily, you just need to find an opinion that is different from what most people think and argue it. But there is a difference between contrary hook and an attack hook, while attack is clearly negative and aggressive, contrary hook is meant to start up a dialogue and a discussion going. So make sure you know what you are talking about, because like an attack hook, contrary hook can make you look dumb. A word to the wise, make sure to read through your content, as there can be a very thin line between a contrary and attack hook, so chose your words carefully.

Humor Hook

humor hookWe all love a good laugh; we all want to share a good laugh, so it is fairly obvious how a humor hook can get you links. One thing I don’ like about it is that depending on your market and your niche in most cases a humor hook will not make you an expert, will not get you high quality links and will not get you clients, but it can get you a mass amount of links from various domains, which is what we all want.

Incentive Hook

incentive hookThe name says it all, give people incentive to link to you and to talk about you. In most cases you have seen this but probably haven’t thought of it as a linkbait. You saw many contests or even took part in a few. Famous Bloggers recently had a contest, the amount of links they got from each of the participants was amazing, not to mention the social media mentions and the increase in following.

By giving a reason for people to link to you thinking that they are helping themselves you can get amazing quality links, you just need to create a great contest (here is a great post from SEOmoz on creating a contest), give out awards, offer testimonials on your website or whatever comes to mind.

Ego Hook

ego hookAnd there is the very popular ego hook. This one works wonders if you can hook the right ego. My last post was an example of an ego hook (not that successful, yet). So the idea is to motivate a person of great authority in your niche to link to you. In some cases testimonials will do, but one of the most used up ways is to make an interview with a known person or persons (like I did with one single question asked to top SEO experts).

What is the benefit, well, hopefully the person you interview will link to the post, but more importantly, other people once they see that a known person answers some important questions on your website will link to your site. It is a win-win situation; you get free great content from an authority source, hopefully a link from a high authority and massive amounts of links from various domains.

Content Types of Linkbait

The above mentioned are types of linkbait hooks you can use, but each one of them can be divided by content types (articles, how to guides, infographics, images, videos, apps, widgets, templates, lists, resources…).

It is very important to choose the right content type for your linkbait idea. An interview can do a great job when published as a guest post, but more people will make the time to go though it if it is in a form of a video. So this is a very important factor to consider. Making an infographic or a slideshow presenting each answer with some images or examples will also gain you more links than a simple interview post.

A well presented humor hook in the form of an infographic or a post with images can also become an ego hook if promoted correctly. Just look at the Matt Cutts image post by Seer Interactive.

Finding the right content type for your linkbait idea is a factor that can make your linkbait successful, so don’t just run with the first great idea you get. Think about it, do some research and make it as good and as attractive as you can.

How to Brainstorm a Linkbait Idea

This is the hardest part, coming up with the actual idea, right? Wrong! It’s not that hard to come up with a great idea for a linkbait, you just need to try it. Start writing down your ideas on a piece of paper, every day when you read your favorite blogs or browse the web or stumble around, write the ideas that pop up, and I’m sure there will be plenty of them.

Now don’t throw away an idea because it looks stupid in the beginning, no need to do that, even the dumbest idea can become a goldmine linkbait, so again, throw your ideas around. Ask people what they think, use Q/A sites to get some ideas going for you, find answers that are hard to answer or don’t provide a satisfactory answer and build up on those. To maximize the flow of your ideas start a Google Alert, follow important RSS feeds of your niche, try to find an idea outside your work from your real life away from the monitor. Look at popular search trends on social media, what people are talking about, what are the rising trends. All of these can give you plenty of great ideas to work on and come up with a great linkbait.

Promoting Linkbait

So, you have your idea, you did your research, you created the best type of linkbait in the best possible content form and now you want to reach your tipping point as soon as you can. Well, in some cases you will have to wait even months to break the tipping point, but there are things you can do to move things a bit faster.

The basics start with social media. The best way to get something viral and start earning links from it is to make use of social media. Now this is not easy as it sounds, and from Peter’s post you probably know what I mean. Before you try to promote your linkbait on social media sites you better be connected with important profiles and have a solid number of truly active followers that react to your shares and tweets, or you might as well have 100,000 followers as it won’t help you one bit.

To push social media and get some immediate links going for you the best thing you can do is pitch the idea to your friends, bloggers in your niche and every webmaster and blog that might be interested into content you just created, especially to those you used for research or people that wrote about the same subject before. Don’t be shy to pitch your content; you will be surprised how many links and connections you can make this way without stepping on anyone’s toes and being seen as a spammer.

To maximize your ongoing potential create alerts for this piece of content and important keywords, so anytime someone new writes something about your subject you can be sure to give a little push and offer them a resource they forgot to mention in their post. What you do is actually consolidate all links around that subject, because yours is the most comprehensive of all.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are two things I think are very important that you should never forget. The first one is that without proper research you will most likely fail. You need to create something that stands out, something that is better than the already existing articles or other pieces of content out there on your subject. Without that you will probably fail in the beginning.

The second thing to keep in mind is that your linkbait may take some time to start attracting links or reach the tipping point and go viral. So print into your brain that if you created something of value, with some work it will deliver wanted results. So make sure to promote it over time, don’t forget about it just because it didn’t achieve the impact you wanted, and also make sure to update your linkbait material each time there is something to add to it. Keeping your linkbait up to date is a crucial step, you want something that will be evergreen and that people can link to 5 years from now and not look at it as outdated piece of content.

Linkbait Resources

Rand’s Linkbait Slidehow

Effective Strategies for Driving Traffic

Linkbaiting for Fun and Profit

Linkbaiting and Effective Link Building

Link Baiting

Use Linkbait for Rankings

Simple Linkbait

Clever linkbait

Linkbaiting Explained

Introduction to LinkBait

Linkbait on Wikipedia

About The Author

is the founder and CEO of Practical SEO and also a passionate blogger. All of his free time he dedicates to his Practical SEO blog and giving free advice as well as participating in the blogging community.

Connect with me on Facebook | Twitter | Google + | LinkedIn

8 Response to Linkbait Explained – Natural Link Building Through Quality

  1. Mike Nolls on May 25, 2011

    Link bait is often very successful and is a great way of generating white hat style backlinks. Problem is, now a days people are so de-sensitized to anything but the most extreme/wild/crazy/etc type of news or blurbs. I think the attack style works well because people almost expect to see outrageous claims and other outbursts online, instead of quality, “low-key” titles and posts that end up getting swept under the rug.

  2. Zarko on May 25, 2011

    You are right Mike, the reason I personally wouldn’t use attack hooks is that I don’t want to attack anyone, and attacking an idea can be even worse, as that way you can be swept by dozens or hundreds of people that don’t agree. I guess the most important fact to make good use of the attack hook is to have good grounds, so basically, I would feel more comfortable with a contrary hook.

  3. George@Hifu on May 26, 2011

    How linkbaiting works is really interesting because we’re practicing it in one way or the other and we should be very careful about how we intend to use it because the output can either be beneficial if not bring negative results. Linkbaiting is an interesting topic and this post has made it even more interesting to know more about linkbaiting.

  4. Juge@Houston SEO on May 26, 2011

    Great Article Zarko! will become a regular here!

    Attack hook and contrary Hook are your least favorite but for me they are amongst the most effective. Nothing’s better than a good controversy to create a buzz… The only requirement is the keep it under control to avoid e-reputation collateral damage.

    Also like the fact that you go further in the explanation of the process. Many people (including myself) are just defining/explaining the different Hooks – you also give tips on brainstorming and promotion of the hooks!

  5. Zarko on May 26, 2011

    Hi Juge,

    I know they work like wonders, and I know it won’t go to my benefit for avoiding them, maybe I still have more to learn :) it requires experience, that is for sure

    As for the other part, thanks, I do try to offer practical advice in every post and not just explain the theory behind it, well, that is why we are called Practical SEO :)

  6. Steve@Internet Lifestyle on May 27, 2011

    Zarko,

    I love your tips on linkbait. I think your explanation was so simple, yet quite profound. Awesome job!

  7. Mark @ TheBitBot SEM Blog on May 29, 2011

    Zarko,

    I can personally attest to the fact that the news hooks specifically work. I wrote a couple of posts on the Panda update when it came out and it they definitely picked up a few. Even more important, they drew organic traffic…big time.

    I am a huge fan of link bait.

    Mark

  8. Best Practical SEO post of 2011 on December 29, 2011

    [...] Linkbait Explained – Natural Link Building Through Quality [...]

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