Sunday, January 6, 2008

Link Baiting

Link Baiting

Linkbaiting (link baiting, linkbait, link bait etc) is a term that has increasingly being used around the blogosphere.
What is Link Baiting?
A lot could said about it. So I’ll make just a few basic points to keep things simple.
The term linkbaiting is a one that seems to have surfaced over the past 12 or so months and that is used by webmasters to describe a variety of practices - all of which seek to generate incoming links to a website or blog from other sites.
It is actually a difficult term to be definative about as it covers a lot of different practices ranging from running awards or competitions, through to writing attacking posts on high profile bloggers in the hope of them biting back and linking to you, through to providing other bloggers or site owners with tools (with embedded links back to your own site) that they can put on their blogs (we’ll run through more linkbaiting techniques in one of my next posts in this series).
In reality the term ‘linkbaiting’ is a new term for something that webmasters have been doing for many years. From my earliest days of blogging four years ago I know I saw people doing lots of things to get links (even though the term was never used).
How Does Linkbait Work?
A successful linkbait operates in four basic stages:
Stage 1: Linkbait Launch
The content is released, shared with prominent bloggers, and submitted to portals like Digg,, Reddit and Netscape.
Stage 2: The Long Tail of Links
If the content gains traction and visibility at widely-read sites, medium and smaller outlets and personal blogs will likely point to it, and RSS feeds of the link and content will spread across the Web.
Stage 3: Residual Traffic and Attention
Even after the initial buzz from your successful linkbait campaign dies down, your site’s traffic may stay on a slight increase due to a “linkbait bump” that keeps users circling back to your site.
Stage 4: Search Engine Rankings
The massive influx of links will cause a direct boost of the link popularity of the content piece, as well as an overall boost in global site popularity—and search engines tend to reward links with rankings.
7 Tips for Linkbait Success

Find Appropriate Linkbait Portals
Identify those news outlets, blogs or social media sites that you’re seeking to get a link from. In the areas of technology, Digg, TechCrunch and Slashdot are great candidates. For humor or offbeat news, Fark and Reddit may make better choices. Depending on your content, sites like the popular blog Boing Boing, Yahoo!’s Site of the Day or Netscape may make good choices.

Understand Your Audience
Normally, you’re building content targeted to your site’s visitors—people who want your products, services or content. But for linkbait, you need to also appeal to an entirely different audience—one that can help your site achieve mass appeal in the niche that you select. I advise reviewing the coverage you see for other links in your area; using tags and blog archives can help with this process.

Brainstorm Effectively
You want to find ideas that are so compelling, they blow you away. Imagine pitching your idea to a writer at the New York Times; would he or she be likely to write about it? If so, you’ve got a gem.

Build Beautiful Bait
The user experience, graphic design and usability of the content you build need to have the look and feel of success. A professional layout and tasteful headlines, graphics and embedded content will go a long way toward selling your audience on your content’s worthiness.

Create a Reputation
Linkbait is difficult to launch the first few times if no one on the Web has heard of your brand. Once you’ve spent some time in the blogosphere and social media space, you may find that a lot of your content goes viral without any effort on your part. Thus, creating a reputation is an important part of making linkbait successful. If you need some help, try leveraging industry contacts that have pull with prominent bloggers and respected profiles at social sites.

Grab Their Attention
Writing the headlines and initial descriptions to submit to the social sites, emailing bloggers and appearing in search results is a critical part of linkbait. Many readers will see your headline, and in the early phase it’s critical that they follow your link and help to spread your message.

Don’t Be Manipulative—and DON’T SPAM
You might have to try linkbaiting several times before you get good at the process; in the meantime, make sure that you don’t burn bridges by spamming bloggers with email requests to cover your piece, or repeatedly tagging your own content at the social media sites from the same IP addresses.


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