SEO

Testing the Water with Link Bait

In the SEM world, “link bait” is a common tactic designed to capture a large audience in the hopes that a given piece of content will become “viral” and in turn, acquire a significant amount of links. Link bait has been around for years and although tactics and forms have changed, the fundamental concept has remained the same.

One of the most recent and innovative examples of an effective link bait campaign was the girl who quit her job on a dry erase board and called her boss out for playing too much Farmville. For its general awesomeness, the article spread like wildfire over a period of several days and according to Yahoo Site Explorer has generated over 30,000 inbound links. As many of us found out after the fact, it turns out the whole thing was a hoax cleverly pulled off by TheChive.com.

As many know, link acquisition can be a long and arduous process. Reaching out to relevant sites one by one and requesting links can be painstaking. Buying links can actually hurt your rankings if you’re not careful. So taking the time to execute a well thought out link bait campaign can be one of the most effective tactics to employ when looking to acquire more links. Although it might require some upfront work, this is a scalable approach that will yield better results more quickly than manual link development.

Link bait comes in all forms:

  • Top Ten Lists: probably the most common form. Anyone can create a top ten list of sorts and make it relevant to whatever it is they’re trying to push.
  • How To’s: a great how-to article or video is always useful.
  • Infographics: made popular by Mint.com, infographics are taking storm right now. From student loans in America to Sesame Street, infographics can take any topic and break it down in to chunks of information that make it easy to quickly read and understand.
  • Slideshows: the Huffington Post loves a good slideshow. This format is not only great for link bait, but for publishers it’s a great way to boost page views.
  • Quizzes: one of the earlier forms of link bait, made popular by The Oatmeal. With quizzes like “How many Justin Biebers could you take in a fight” it’s hard not to partake and share with your friends.

Common elements of successful link bait:

  • Funny
  • Engaging
  • Interactive
  • Informative
  • Quick and easy to read
  • Contradictory
  • Controversial

Whatever approach you take, the important thing to remember is to keep trying. Not everything you try will be as wildly popular as the Dry Erase Board Girl, but you never know what might be the next big thing. A unique idea in a fun format will go a long way.

 Testing the Water with Link Bait

Rachel Freeman

Rachel Freeman works for the Jive Software, the pioneer and leading provider of social business solutions. She has expertise in all aspects of search engine marketing and specializes in SEO and paid search for the B2B sector. Freeman has been responsible for the development and execution of countless search and social marketing campaigns over her years in the search marketing industry.

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4 thoughts on “Testing the Water with Link Bait

  1. i do agree there is a big trend with type of linkbaits using infographics… on the other hand, imo, i think the most successful elements its to be “funny” …great article rachel

  2. Great article Rachel! I agree that using top 10 list's can get you a ton of traffic. I enjoy writing those all the time and I also like reading ones that other people write!

  3. I believe this must be a two-step process though no? Firstly creating the content, and secondly getting enough initial links to gather some momentum.