Linkbait: Good Term Or Bad Term?

Today CopyBlogger’s Brian Clark asked what people think of the term linkbait. Not the practice itself, but the term. Does linkbait suffer from a poor brand? Is the term fine? Do you care one way or the other? Why not share your view and let Brian know.

Brian is taking a poll through the comments on his post and shamelessly asked for links and votes. Here you go Brian. I’m only too happy to provide the link given all the good writing advice I’ve taken from you.

Linkbaiting: Vote Yes or No This Week Only

You can vote until 5:00 pm CST this Friday, January 26th 2007 and there’s already a healthy debate in the comments so have a look and leave a vote. I’ll be adding some of my thoughts following so if you’d rather not be influenced by me prior to voting go ahead now and come back when you’re done. I’ll still be here when you get back.

The crux of the question from CopyBlogger

…link attraction is crucial. But is “linkbaiting” bad branding for an important skill? I prefer to call what I do viral copywriting, but no one asked me.

I don’t think viral copywriting is necessarily the best term since linkbait isn’t limited to words. Think of any free application like these or this or even something like this.

Words have nothing to do with any of the above drawing links. Brian of course is naturally going to be biased in favor of terms related to writing, but the written word is only one way to linkbait.

Again we’re not talking about the practice of linkbait itself, though some have argued developing content with the purpose of attracting links is ruining the web. My own thoughts are exactly the opposite and that linkbait will ultimately lead to an improved web.

I do think the term suffers from poor branding as a result of a poor name. Bait in the context of marketing simply has too many negative connotations. It calls to mind ‘bait and switch,’ the practice of drawing people in for one thing and then selling them on something else that they didn’t really want. And in truth some linkbaiters do approach the art of attracting links in this way by sensationalizing titles and offering little in content once the title hooks you in.

Bait also brings up images of worms on hooks and some may see linkbait as a view of your readers as little more than fish to be reeled in. Not exactly the way you want to think of your customers. I’ve even noticed anytime I refer predominantly to link bait in a post as two words AdSense delivers all kinds of ads relating to fishing. Last time I checked I even rank #1 and #2 in Google for a term relating to fishing lures.

The term though, is too ingrained in the community and is going to be with us for awhile. At least until something else comes along that works better in attracting links or the practice gets turned on its head in some way. It probably won’t be any time soon and even then people will still refer to linkbait.

So what do you think? If you haven’t already check out Brian’s post and leave a comment with your vote and thoughts. And while you’re there check out some of CopyBlogger’s other posts. I guarantee reading Brian can improve your writing.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. Linkbait has definately come to mean something negative, To some people it’s as bad as “spamming”. To me, It’s a perfectly acceptable way of promoting a site. We all want interest in what we write, So if someone can create something that recieves interest and links, Good luck to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.