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Linkbaiting is sometimes perceived in a negative light, perhaps because some linkbaiting techniques intentionally polarise opinion. But mainly linkbait is simply a case of creating great content. Hardly controversial.
At Econsultancy we try to create compelling content in order to drive traffic, recommendations and links.
Broadly speaking, the more links you attract, the higher your Google positions are going to be, though nowadays there’s a little bit more to linkbait than SEO.
Back in the day people would blog about your article, whereas today they may choose to share the link on Twitter. And that's not quite the same thing...
The social media factor
The rise of social platforms means that your linkbait is more powerful than ever, though it works slightly differently. When this article hits Twitter it will benefit from the network effect as people (hopefully) retweet it. But if this article is retweeted 500 times then I’m effectively getting a lot of links from the same domain (twitter.com), which isn’t as powerful as having 500 individual bloggers link to this page from their own blogs.
The ideal scenario is that this awareness spreads beyond the virtual walls of Twitter onto other social media sites and blogs, thus attracting new links from other domains. To do that you need to build up your network of followers, know your audience, and write specifically for them.
So what kind of linkbait techniques can you use to drive retweets on Twitter, shares on Facebook, and links from blogs and other sites?
Here are 15 linkbaiting tactics that can work very well indeed…
People cannot get enough of the easy-to-digest, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin list format. Lists often fall into one of two camps: educational or amusing. As such they’re perfect linkbait fodder.
2. Create an infographic
Like lists, the world cannot get enough of infographics. We regularly aggregate infographics into list-based posts… the best of both worlds!
3. Have an argument
Hunt around for a target. Lock on. Attack! Make sure you wear a thick coat.
4. Say something controversial or stupid
We have established a few rules for the Econsultancy blog over the years. One is: “Never link to John Dvorak”. Dvorak is a veteran tech journalist who regularly posts nonsense about SEO, thereby attracting links and scorn from the outraged SEO community. Intentional linkbait or not, it works, as word spreads. We’re now wise to it…
5. Be a contrarian
This isn’t the same thing as having an argument or saying something controversial. It is about taking a position that might be seen as counterintuitive, or against the grain, or plain ridiculous. I rather like people who go against the grain, whether I agree with them or not. Like Perry Farrell says, “ain’t no right, ain’t no wrong”.
6. Build tools
Oh boy, does the world love a useful tool. Keep your eyes on this space folks!
7. Launch a competition
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Competitions can create lots of interest, and tons of links. Consider the Best Job In The World competition. It attracted tons of links, a vast amount of earned media (online and offline), 36,000 applicants and an estimated $100m in tourism.
8. Get an exclusive
It goes without saying that being first to a story can drive lots of links. Don’t think of exclusives in purely ‘news’ terms.
9. Release a whitepaper
Thought leadership works. Informative whitepapers can spread around the network like wildfire, and bloggers will often write about them.
10. Be helpful
The Econsultancy business is pretty much entirely based on helping people, via practical and time-saving research, training, events and consulting. Educational blog posts help us raise awareness of what we do more broadly as a business, and they attract lots of links.
11. Amuse and entertain
Creating compelling content that brightens up somebody’s day is always a good idea.
12. Involve the crowd
Crowdsourcing content automatically provides you with a bunch of people who has some kind of vested interest in your article / research / content. As such they’ll be more likely to make a noise about it, as and when you publish.
13. Say something bad about Apple
Honestly, it never fails.
14. Write killer headlines
The first step to creating linkbait is thinking about the headline, not least because you want people to use your headline text in order to link to you. If you're doing the linkbait thing properly you should have a Google goal in mind. I’m going after ‘linkbait techniques’ here, as we’re not on the first five pages of Google for that term. Let’s see how I get on!
15. Do something new
Harder than it sounds, I know. We live in a world of me-too. Being original is more difficult than ever. I mean, there are hundreds of linkbait articles out there already, but I bet none of them have ever signed off with a Link Wray video…
Good luck, baiters!