There's really no arguing that websites need to have plenty of high quality backlinks pointing to them in order to rank well in the search engines. And when it comes to creating viral content and building these valuable links, “linkbait” content can't be beat.
But what is linkbait content? And how can you take advantage of its unique properties in order to generate traffic to your website and improve your site's position in the search engines. Let's get started…
First of all, linkbaiting refers to the process of creating content that has a high likelihood of being linked back to and/or shared virally, and can include text articles, videos, infographics and other types of web content. And although the phrase “baiting” has some seemingly negative connotations in terms of “trapping” or “tricking” readers, there's nothing inherently bad about the process of creating and deploying linkbait content – as long as the content is valuable on its own merits.
To understand the process of how linkbait content can be used to build high quality backlinks to a website, consider the following example…
A website owner in the dog training niche wants to generate backlinks to his site and increase his traffic, so he writes a helpful, engaging article that he thinks his readers will love, titled “101 Ways to Make Your Dog Do What You Want.” Initially, he only publishes it on his blog, but later, he decides to submit it to a few social bookmarking sites as well.
His regular readers love the article, so they email the link to their friends and share it on social networking sites. At the same time, people on the social bookmarking sites are starting to take notice, resulting in more “votes” for his article on these sites. Eventually, an authority blog in this niche takes notice and publishes a link to the original author's site in order to share the content with their readers.
The result of all this sharing means a lot more traffic flooding into the original site, as well as plenty of backlinks as the article is shared around the web. Our website owner hasn't done any more work than usual, but because he built a “linkbait” article that was designed to be shared, he's getting a lot more value out of the piece than he does from his usual articles.
Sounds great, right? If you'd like to take advantage of the power of linkbait content, consider some of the following options. Keep in mind that linkbait content is content that gets people talking – so really, anything you can do to get people's attention can be considered linkbait. However, if you aren't quite sure where to start, you might find a few of the following tried-and-true linkbait strategies helpful.
Conduct a quiz. Get your readers engaged, and they'll repay the favor by sending you both backlinks and traffic. As an example, check out the following chart of referring sites that sent traffic to an NFL-based quiz set up by Netvantage Marketing:
Although the quiz was set up as a fun experiment, the results were very real. The spikes in traffic correspond to both the company sending out a press release about the tool near the start of the NFL season and several prominent bloggers in the industry finding the link and sharing it on their sites. As you can see, building good linkbait content can be very powerful!
Host a contest or giveaway. People love getting stuff for free, and – better yet – they love to tell their friends and family members about opportunities to win contests as well. For this reason, deciding to host a contest or giveaway can be a great way to get peoples' attention and get them back to your website (just be sure to check the raffle laws in your area before committing to anything!).
List posts. If you feel like you've been seeing a lot of list posts (for example, “20 SEO Blogs You Need to Bookmark“) around the internet lately, there's a reason for that – it's because people love to share them. They might take a little more effort to write than other types of content, but a good list post almost always winds up getting more attention than more generic articles.
Be the first to talk about something. The cool kids in school were always the ones who were first to jump on the latest trends – whether it was wearing high top sneakers, trading pogs or having the latest MP3 player or cell phone. People look to these trend setters for advice and guidance – and with a little preparation, you can be one of these early adopters yourself!
Of course, being the first in your industry to share information on a given subject means constantly staying up-to-date on relevant news. To use this type of linkbait, you'll want to subscribe to authority blogs in your niche, get on email lists for any related industry newsletters and check news websites frequently for any items you can post on.
Consider the following advice from Brandon Connell on Problogger, speaking about the best ways to stay current on industry news:
“Look at news sites and stories, like the Yahoo! homepage. Don't hesitate: write about it, then publish it quickly.”
Share a controversial viewpoint. It's never a good idea to be needlessly inflammatory or to resort to slandering another person, but if you can share a well-reasoned controversial viewpoint with your audience, you'll likely find that these articles get shared (and, consequently, generate more backlinks to your site) more often than general posts.
Interview an expert. The major upside to interviewing an expert is that most of them already have their own followings who are anxious to read, listen or watch anything that the expert says. So posting an interview with said expert on your site is a sure-fire way to attract more visitors and develop content that people will be likely to share.
The tricky part here, obviously, is getting an expert to agree to an interview. You'll find that some experts are much more approachable than others, so develop a list of key interview targets and then work through the list until you find someone who agrees to answer your questions – which, as you might expect should be professionally-constructed, well-written, and thought-provoking.
Create a “How To” tutorial. No matter what niche you're in, there will always be people who are absolute beginners to your subject matter. By answering their questions with comprehensive, “how to” tutorials, you'll be creating content that appeals to your readers and functions as linkbait content for each crop of beginners that winds up on your website.
No matter what type of linkbait content you decide to create, keep the following principles in mind: make it unique, make it engaging and make it easy to share. It may take a couple of tries to create a piece of linkbait content that really resonates with your readers and takes off virally, but once this surge of traffic and interest occurs, you'll find yourself swimming in all the backlinks you can handle as the result of your linkbait content.