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What is Link Bait?

Link bait is content on your website that other sites link to because they want to, not because you ask them to.

Whether it’s an evergreen blog post, a helpful eBook, or a timely video tutorial, the linkable asset comes in many forms. Let’s take a look at a few examples of link bait and discuss how proactive content marketing can help your website garner more links. Shall we?

Types of Link Bait

Great content always serves as link bait. This is important to remember. When creating a blog post or revising copy on top-level pages, think about whether or not the content is link-worthy. Had you come across it in your daily perusal of the web, would you be likely to link to or share it with friends via social media? Remember: while a social share doesn’t necessarily carry the same weight as an anchored link, it does have an impact on your page’s perceived importance!

Breaking news is the link bait of timeliness. Think about it. When writing an article in reference to a particular event, product release, or software update, it’s highly likely that you’ll link to relevant news articles that support the information you’re dictating. If we’re covering the release of a new iPhone, for instance, we’ll seek out timely resources (and link to them) to provide users with additional material to reference/read. This sort of supportive linking happens all the time. So, essentially, if you are the source and/or purveyor of timely content, chances are that you’ll fetch your website some links!

Timeless content is lasting link bait. While timely content is in most cases ephemerally valuable (we’re not going to be covering the release of the second iPhone years down the road), timeless content, or evergreen content, has lasting value. Whether it’s a piece that’s timeless in nature (like an eBook on the fundamentals of Regular Expressions) or something that’s frequently updated (like SEOmoz’s search algorithm update history), always-relevant content is always link-worthy.

Specific Examples of Linkable Assets

Widgets and gadgets make great link bait in that they provide a great deal of use and/or value to others on the web. There are countless examples of these sorts of things generating hundreds of links in a relatively short span of time (and thousands of links in the long-run). Examples include:

  • Industry-specific calculators (e.g., a energy-efficiency calculator for home buyers)
  • Embeddable sidebar widgets (e.g., a feed of upcoming events in your industry)
  • Daily deals widgets (e.g., Groupon’s embeddable deal widget for referrers)

There are countless others, as well. Remember, simply creating a widget won’t suffice. The challenge is to come up with something that provides real value to other websites’ users. If the widget you create is only useful for your users (or, worse yet, not useful at all), you can’t expect it to attract many embeds/links. Quality is key!

Quizzes and games are another great link baiting avenue to explore. While you have to be careful with your implementation, this is a strategy that can yield massive returns. One popular methodology (made infamous by the Oatmeal) is rewarding quiz takers with an embeddable “badge” that displays their results and links back to your website. Again, though, creativity is key. Given that this is a method that is largely played out, you’ll have to consider different ways that you can add a unique twist. Originality is everything.

link bait quiz example

This is a fun quiz for people in the industry to waste a little time on a Friday afternoon. Speaking of that, which search engine are you?

Images and infographics, like our Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet below, attract references and links from many industry publication links and social shares. Time and time again, we’ve seen that, for a visual learner, an image can be worth well over a thousand words.

Infographic link bait example

While SEO for images is an animal in and of itself, utilizing your images and infographics to attract links is something that merits your concentration. The key, again, is relevance and usefulness. It’s quite easy to find a designer who can craft a good-looking infographic. What’s hard is making that infographic truly unique and compelling. The infographic is all too often used to convey a message that might’ve been clearer if written. It is important that, before creating a visual, you consider whether or not the information in that visual is best presented graphically. If not, you probably don’t have a good case for an infographic.

Whitepapers and eBooks, along with other downloadable resources, can make great link bait, as well. In providing members of your industry with a valuable resource, you’re also providing them with something that they’re likely to share with their community. This is the definition of ‘linkable asset.’

ebook link bait

This is Robbin’s renowned Regular Expressions eBook, on which LunaMetrics built its brand many years ago.

Video content can also be an incredibly effective means through which to attract links. Think about how many times you’ve linked to or shared a YouTube video. The viral nature of this type of content is what makes it extremely valuable. While links to your YouTube video are valuable, links to your web page (with the same YouTube video embedded) are even more valuable. Always embed, and the links will come!

Marketing Your Link Bait

You might be thinking, “Wait, link bait is all about obtaining natural links, right? Why do I need to think about marketing my linkable assets? Won’t people just link to them?”

Sadly, the answer is no.

Marketing your link bait is essential to its success, in fact. Whether it’s sharing your content via the appropriate channels, planting your links in the right message boards, or even creating a press release, the initial steps you take play a pivotal role in the discovery and rise of your content.

Think about your favorite viral YouTube videos or Internet memes. Would they have been such earth-shattering hits had they been simply published on an individual’s blog or a semi-frequented message board and left dormant? Doubtful. The lesson is to put your best content will others will find it. Often times, this might mean publishing to your own blog or website, and then sharing via other outlets – like Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. If your intent is to attract links, it is, in fact, very important that the content exists on your website. However, the act of ‘link baiting’ doesn’t preclude you from sharing! Why waste all that time creating something great if you can’t even share it? It doesn’t make sense.

But remember, success begets success in link baiting. As you build an audience that anticipates great content, marketing your link bait gets much easier.

Putting It All Together

So, what is link bait? It’s anything and everything that you create that garners links for your website. Remember, you’re not necessarily creating awesome content to generate links. You’re creating great content because that’s what industry thought leaders do. If you’re truly creating something great and marketing it effectively, the links will undoubtedly come. With great content comes great links – or something to that effect.

Want help creating content, marketing link bait, and managing your SEO efforts? Check out LunaMetrics SEO consulting services!