Link Baiting As Part Of An Effective Link Building Campaign

Link Baiting. The term may be new, but the concept has been around for awhile as a way to build links quickly and organically. As the name implies link baiting is the act of providing something as bait to acquire incoming links. So what is the link bait?

What is Link Bait?

Link bait is unique and interesting content that other sites naturally want to link to. Link bait can be something original, it can be something first, it can be something that is contrary, it can be something that is humorous, or it can be something that is useful.

There are five different types of link bait commonly referred to as hooks. News hooks, contrary hooks, attack hooks, resource hooks and humor hooks.

News Hook

A news hook is where you provide content that others don’t have, but will want to link to. An example of a news hook is a ‘scoop’ where you are the first (or even one of the first) to report on some piece of general or industry news. It can also be a compilation of news sources or headlines to report a more complete picture of a given news story. Another possible news hook would be to expose a story as false complete with proof of the original story’s errors and inaccuracies.

Contrary Hook

A contrary hook is when you contradict something someone else says. Typically you will start with a link back to the original story (their link bait) and then present your contrary point of view. Ideally the original source comes from someone prominent and influential in their industry and your point of view must be contrary to theirs. The more prominent the source or the more accepted the original idea the more powerful your contrary hook.

Attack Hook

An attack hook is similar to a contrary hook, but takes things to a new level. In an attack hook you not only present a contrary point of view, you also turn it into a personal attack on the original source. This hook has it’s obvious pitfalls in that you are generally not presenting yourself in the best light with an attack and you may not be winning many new friends.

Resource Hook

With resource hooks you are providing useful information for others to link to. It can be a list of resources, a compilation of links to articles. Your resource can be a how to or tutorial based on your industry. It can be a useful tool to help others in the industry. The idea is to provide something that other sites will find useful and think their visitors will also find useful. If you can provide something that others will want to use frequently such as ‘the’ list of resources in your industry or a new toolbar you will naturally acquire many links to your resource.

Humor Hook

Humor hooks typically involve using humor to attract links. The humor can be in the form of a story. It can be a piece of satire or a list of funny items. It can be a joke or even weird or obscure images. Top 10 lists would fall into the category of humor hooks.

Does Link Baiting Work?

Let’s say you’ve discovered that aliens from another galaxy have landed in your backyard and are now living among us to study earth culture. Certainly a news hook (or maybe a humor hook with you as the punchline if you can’t provide the proof). You publish an article on your site complete with images of the ship and proof that the aliens are here. As the story gets out your site as the original source will continue to gather links. Even as the pages that link to yours get links your site gains popularity as the importance of their link grows.

Maybe you’ve developed a new web application that allows site owners to not only know how many visitors came to their site, but also why they left. (probably not going to happen unless your new application can read minds). You start to give your tool away freely. As more and more people download your application and continue to improve their business they begin to tell others how they were able to keep visitors on their site and where to get the tool that helped them by linking to your site.

You decide that everyone is wrong and the earth really is flat and that all other objects in the universe revolve around it. You write unflattering opinions of everyone from Copernicus to Albert Einstein. People want to read about the nut who thinks he may fall of the edge of the earth if he strays to far from his home and more and more websites begin to link to your ‘the earth is really flat as a board’ website.

Find a way to provide something unique or useful, interesting, funny, or contrary on your site and others will find it and link to you. Maybe those voices Kevin Costner was hearing weren’t talking about building a baseball diamond. Maybe they were talking about link bait and link baiting.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

15 comments

  1. Most links will help your ranking in Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and most other search engines. Not all will, but typically with link bait you’ll be getting a lot of quailty links along with any not so quality links.

    So yes it will help you rank better. That’s the main idea behind link bait.

  2. Have you seen The Mad Revisionist’s web site? He argues the moon doesn’t exist, and goes to great lengths, questioning the application of Newton’s laws, theories, demonstrations, historical literary analysis … it’s about Holocaust denial, making fun of people who are *too* contrary, but it’s a funny site in and of itself. I’ve referred other people.

    On the other hand, I’ve written two tools that I thought would be much better “linkbait,” but haven’t really brought that much traffic, compared to other parts of my site. WebMaestro seems perfect for anyone with a web site, and Exif Harvester is great for digital photographers, but they just haven’t taken off.

    “C’est la vie” say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.

  3. I’ve heard of the site, but I don’t think I’ve read it. Sounds interesting though and I think I’ll check it out. I guess the site is all about the comedy hook and the contrary hook.

    One of the hard things with linkbait for people like you and me is that it’s harder for us to give it that initial push to get it in front of the other people who will link to it and spread the word for us. That’s why social media is such a big thing. If you write a good piece of linkbait and get it to rise in Digg you’ve got that push and usually within a few weeks you have a lot of links to your linkbait.

    I know there are other exif tools. I’ve downloaded a few and when I first heard you mention it on WT I looked to see if yours was one of the ones I had downloaded. The name is very familiar and while it doesn’t look like I downloaded it I’m pretty sure I came across it while searching.

    Both Exif Harvester and WebMaestro can still gain links though. I wrote an article about issues with WordPress and the supplemental index. I think it’s an article worth linking to, but for months no one really noticed it. A couple of months ago Aaron Wall wrote posted about similar issues and since my post fit with his I commented and left a link on his blog. I think I was the first person commenting too. I now get a decent amount of traffic to that page just from his post and it seems to attract a few more links here and there. In time it could reach a tipping point and start generating a lot of links quickly.

    Even if the linkbait doesn’t draw links right away it still can attract them over time. Imagine at some point a Seattle paper interviews you and you mention the tools and they link to them. Just like that a lot of people might see it and try it and link to it.

    I like the reference to Chuck Berry by the way.

  4. Glad you like the post. I was only just learning about linkbait when I was writing this. The post is the result of several hours research on what linkbaiting is and then a few more writing the post. Thanks for the appreciation.

  5. I hope it works well for you. Linkbaiting isn’t quite as easy as it might sound. You have to really create a great piece of content and give it a push out into the wild. I’m glad I could help clear up what it is.

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