Link bait is content you have on your site that naturally attracts inbound links. Key word: NATURALLY. Everyone knows the importance of links for organic rankings. And everyone knows that BUILDING links can land you with a whopping penalty. So what’s left? Link Bait. Google’s own Matt Cutts thinks of link bait as “something interesting enough to catch people’s attention.” And what that interest leads to an earned link, then you’ve acquired an invaluable asset that helps to boost domain authority and organic visibility.
Types of Link Bait
What gets people clicking? If there were a can’t-fail formula to create viral content online, then everyone would be an online celebrity. While there is a certain amount of luck that goes into getting a hot piece of content, there are a few different ways to identify potential link bait content.
Great Content: It may be easier said than done, but great content will usually yield a natural amount of links from other websites. A good gauge to assess whether or not your content could be considered “great” is to take a step back as if someone else wrote it. If you came across your content on someone else’s site, would you be likely to share it?
Content that you can provide original, impressive data is one way to produce link bait you can consider “great”. An industry study, whether it solidifies or refutes a claim, can really bring in the inbound links and may even attract further media attention.
The key to great content is engaging your audience to a point where they cannot help but share it with their friends. Great content, though, comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be anything from an opinion on a trending topic to a funny video. Regardless of what exactly you’re trying to get people to see, the key is to know what your audience wants and to capitalize on that knowledge.
When an event or time-sensitive topic occurs and you create a post about it, chances are you will receive inbound links from other articles to direct their readers to further reading.
One of the most famous examples of breaking news content that went viral is the tweet that Oreo released during the famous Super Bowl blackout in 2014. The combination of the speed at which Oreo was able to release the tweet and the massive audience of the Super Bowl managed to garner 15,000 retweets and 20,000 Facebook likes in a matter of minutes.
While Oreo may have “won the Super Bowl” as some people put it, the fact is that content’s success was completely tied to the timeliness of its release; the attention it garnered didn’t last more than a few days. Timeless content, however, can sustain inbound linking for a much longer timeframe, as they are not tied to any particular time-sensitive context. This content is oftentimes referred to as evergreen content.
Timeless content can either be content that doesn’t have an expiration date, like an eBook on a topic that will always be relevant, or a subject that is constantly being updated, like the update history of the Apple iOS.
If you’re looking to create evergreen content, use this checklist to see if it fits the bill:
- Is this topic being searched? Quite simply, is there interest in this topic? You may find your content interesting, but if your audience, doesn’t you’re essentially just producing content for yourself. In order to make sure you’re not reaching out to a party of one, Google AdWords Keyword Planner can help you identify what people are searching for and can help you structure your content to use searched topics to your advantage.
- Will this content be relevant in a year? A year is a good benchmark to gauge your content’s timelessness. Basically, if it cannot make it a year without becoming irrelevant, then it’s not exactly evergreen.
- Is this topic growing in popularity? You want to be on the right side of the popularity bell curve, because if interest is starting to wane, your content will probably not adjust that trajectory. Use Google Trends to monitor how the topic is performing and you’ll get a sense of where the public’s interest is headed.
- If this topic already exists, can you improve on it? If the Internet is already saturated with the topic that you’re addressing, you risk getting lost in the white noise. That is, of course, unless you are able to improve upon the topic at hand or provide valuable insight that no one else has at the moment. What can you bring to the table in the discussion?
The Advantages of Link Bait
Here are a few reasons why you need to include link bait as part of your digital marketing strategy:
1) Increased Search Ranking
If you receive a lot of inbound links, then you can officially say that you’ve produced successful link bait content (it’s called “link” bait for a reason). Inbound links have a huge effect on your off-page SEO score, which is one of the most influential ways to increase your organic traffic.
2) More Sustainable Traffic and Conversions
Your best link bait articles are also going to be the content that drives a large volume of traffic to your site. This is due to the fact that as more people share your content with their connections, the more interest it naturally garners. Once this audience has visited your site, there’s also a better chance that they will seek out further content on your site, and possibly convert into customers.
To do your part in this equation, optimize the functionality of your site in order to make conversion more likely. Applying call-to-action buttons for your top content on all your pages can increase the likelihood of converting users into customers.
An added bonus: as content that generates a lot of inbound links tend to score highly in SEO and searches, a good link bait article has the likelihood to sustain traffic well past its original publish date.
3) New Audiences
When something is considered “link bait”, there’s an inherent idea that the content carries a certain level of shareability. Because these pieces of content garner inbound links and shares on social media, it tends to open up your business to a wider audience than you may be expected. Remember, every time someone shares a post on their social media page, they are sharing it with all their friends and family, exponentially increasing the size of the audience you are reaching. And with a wider audience comes the likelihood of more customers.
Types of Linkable Content
Link bait can be found in many different forms; it’s just a matter of whether this content is something that people want to share with others. As a marketer, using a few of these is a part of a well-rounded marketing plan that can help you bring in the inbound links.
While having content with words that just jump right off the page can have its own effectiveness, we’re still very visual animals, which is why information and content that is presented in a visual context is an effective way to get clicks. Articles that use infographics are found to gain an inbound link 178% more often than articles without and can garner 72% more views than other content. If you have statistical information that can seem dry in a simple article setting, try spicing up the information with an infographic.
A Comprehensive Resource on a Certain Topic
This sort of link bait can be found in eBooks and White Papers and can be industry specific. The key to creating one of these pieces of link bait content is to present the information as it is the definitive resource for your key industry audience. This would be an example of timeless or evergreen content that we discussed earlier. This resource, as long as it is thorough and valuable, can attract a lot of clicks among industry professionals.
When we say controversial content, we don’t necessarily mean it has to be something politically or socially taboo. It could simply be controversial in the industry that you are trying to speak to. If you have a study that tends to refute an industry wide-belief, that could be enough to gain some attention based on the controversial stance. It’s important, however, that the controversy is natural forming and not done for the sake of the controversy. If you go overboard, you can lose your audience.
People love to win things, and contests are a great way to have your audience interact with your site and share your link with their contacts. Create a contest where the contestants are vying for votes that take place on your site. This tactic will compel the entrants to share your page and will help funnel the voters onto your site.
How often do you share YouTube links with your friends or family? Video content, whether it pulls at the heartstrings or makes you laugh, is an effective form of link bait and tend to attract a lot of sharing. Remember to link to your site on your channel and to embed your video link onto your site; eventually, you’ll see the inbound links materialize.
How to Market Your Link Bait Content
Just because you have linkable content on your hands does not mean that you can just put it out into the world and move onto the next project. While, yes, the idea of link bait is that people can’t help but share it, they won’t want to share it if they never see it. Here are some ways that you can help your link bait article out by marketing it to your target audience.
Social Media: Worldwide, there are currently 1.71 billion monthly active users of Facebook (as of July 2016) and that enormous audience is sharing content at an incredible rate. According to Facebook, in May 2013, 4.75 billion pieces of content were being shared daily, which was an increase from previous numbers taken in 2012.
While there is plenty of overlap in the audiences you’ll have at your disposal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and any other social media platform, using all of these platforms effectively is the easiest way to get your content in front of the most amount of eyes.
Message Boards: They may seem about as old as the Internet, but message boards are still an effective way to get your content out there. Reddit is one of the most popular websites online, even going so far as to call itself “where the Internet begins”, and most things that go viral can be traced back to a Reddit post. For more specific audiences, you should be able to find message boards catering to more niche markets than the entire Internet.
E-Mails: The most direct way to get your message in front of your potential consumers is through e-mail marketing. E-mailing links of your content to the customer is another way to get your link in front of eyes that may click to see more. It’s important to be careful with e-mail campaigns, as you can have your IP blacklisted as SPAM if you e-mail too frequently or to an indiscriminate amount of users. Create an opt-in option so that rather than aimlessly targeting everyone, you are able to market to those that actually want your content.
Remarketing: If someone visited your website but didn’t buy anything, that isn’t the end of the marketing story, that’s just where a good remarketing campaign comes into play. Remarketing uses Google Adwords and a potential customer’s own cookies to advertise using targeting ads on websites that accept Google Ads, including Facebook. Once they visit your site, and meet certain criteria that you decide upon, Google Adwords will add a cookie to their device that will allow your ad to display on certain websites. This can get them to click back into your site and possibly convert them from a lead to a consumer.
Link bait may sound like it has a negative connotation, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an effective way to attract an audience and to gain inbound links and organic visibility. Using this post as a guide can help you understand what the practice of link bait aims to do and how you can use it effectively in your marketing strategy.