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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.