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Gaining natural citations to a site’s content was the basic model of web popularity, and still it is, until people discovered other methods that can artificially manipulate a webpage’s popularity. However, there is one technique that’s still able to prolong the natural ecosystem of linking over the web – and that is link bait.
Link baiting has been a method that has proven its efficiency for the past decade, particularly in developing a high quality link profile for websites. The main principle of this method is to produce extremely interesting content that is capable of attracting people’s attention and eventually receive proper citations by linking to it, as audience may have found real value from the content.
With thousands of pages, or probably millions, being published every day, making your content visible to your target audience seems to be harder these days. And needless to say, it’s quite impossible to acquire natural links if you have an invisible content. That is why planning is very crucial to this type of content marketing. To begin with, here are some of the basic stages when creating a link bait:
- Research and conceptualization of the content
- Creation of the content
- Launching the content
- Marketing the link bait
- Analyzing its results
Now that you know the important phases of its creation process, let’s move on further by going in depth with each of its element.
As I have mentioned above, research plays a big role when producing highly linkable materials, especially with the main concept of the content, as it has to be unique on its own way to make it link worthy. Exceptional concepts for a link bait are usually classified through:
- Rarity (can’t be found anywhere else like research studies, experiments, etc…)
- Approach (humorous, educational, offensive, useful, interactive blogging or linking out to known linkers in your industry, etc…)
You can use Google search in implementing your research for this portion of the campaign, to have a better scope of what is not available yet in your industry and perhaps distinguish the weakness of your possible competitors’ content.
Once you have finished your initial research for the content, it’s best to know right ahead if the idea has the potential of going viral as well as to determine how long the information it contains will be useful (the longer the better), since making it easy to update the content will enhance its capacity to go at large with scalable inbound linking. You’ll be investing a lot of time and effort to producing it, might as well make the most out of it.
A powerful bait has to have a contact list prepared before actually creating the content, basically a part of the research phase. This list commonly includes the sites and bloggers that you need to connect and engage with to have a smoother marketing campaign and email outreach in promoting your content once it goes live, this is actually the element that enables link baits to go viral. You can practically fill this list through:
- Other similar contents’ incoming links, which can be tracked through Yahoo Site Explorer.
- Your own personal network (through email, instant messaging, blog comments, social networking sites, etc…).
- Related blogs that might be interested to share or link to your content, probably those that have history of linking out to highly resourceful contents with the similar theme to yours.
The title or headline of your content should be strong enough to draw people’s attention, as it is the first element that they will be able to see. Your headline should also include your targeted keywords, since it will be the basis of keyword-rich text links, more often than not, when people start to link to your content.
Even if linkers vary the texts they used in directing the link to your bait, as long as your headline is keyword-focused, it can still impact the bait’s search rankings, which will eventually allow you to draw organic traffic from the bait in the long run.
A visually appealing design for the overall content is mostly the secondary trigger when captivating your visitors’ attention. Whether through a striking or minimalist approach, the principle of the content’s design (layout, images or infograph) should channel readers in staying by reducing disruptive elements (ads, opt-in, etc…).
The body of the content is known to be the link bait’s heart and soul, in which it is consisted of several aspects such as the quality of information, uniqueness, usefulness, coherence, relevance and brand/voice.
This is the “aha” or “wow” part of any link bait, or basically the section that astonishes the receiving end. It could be a top secret trick, statistics, research’s results or anything that you think that your possible readers won’t be expecting upon arriving your page.
It is in nature to most web users that the more people are talking about a web certain content, the more it gets intriguing. Enabling user comments within the bait and making the social sharing buttons as well as the number of whom have shared it very visible will enhance the attraction effect it gives to your visitors for them to dig deeper into the content.
And with the rise of social signals as a ranking factor, having this feature can certainly help boost the link bait’s search rankings, especially if it is worth the buzz.
Internal link funnel
Link baits purely act as a support page for a site’s important landing page, since most link baits are created to generate interest and natural backlinks, which is the usual incapability of landing pages such as homepages and sales pages. Planting an internal link directing to your money page(s) within the bait is very vital, as it passes all the link juice it receives to its supported destination page, which can help boost your other important pages’ Pagerank, authority and most importantly – its search rankings.
Call to action
It is important to add a strong call to action to fully utilize your link bait to your advantage. A powerful bait doesn’t just focus on generating links, but leads as well. You can use actionable closing parts for your bait such as suggesting them to subscribe to your feed, follow you on social networking sites, or suggesting your visitors to check out other pages in your site (your product or services page).
Precision in launching
Everything else should be prepared before launching your bait. This is the process where you collect the crafted email template (for outreach) and the list of contacts. Once you have published the content, the outreach should follow through immediately (it would be easier if you have already notified your prospects before launching the content). Best time to do this is in the morning, whereas the best day is any day except for weekends.
Analysis of results
Analyzing your link bait’s performance after a week is imperative as it allows you to determine the elements that need to be changed. The aspects that you need to track:
- Amount of natural links garnered
- Traffic it generated for the entire week
- Bounce rate of the page
- Positive vs. negative reactions about the content (measurable through blog comments, bounce rate and email feedbacks).
- Number of social shares (tweet, like, stumbleupon views, etc…)
- Top referring sites to the content
Getting the results of your link bait’s first week, by gathering the abovementioned data, can indicate the robustness of the content which can give you the confidence – if results were mostly positive – and allow you to go further with your link request outreach as the content has proven to be of value (a definite advantage when requesting for more links).