During the 12 New Media Days of Christmas, we’re counting down the days until Santa comes by featuring some of the best blog posts of 2011 from awesome writers within the BlogWorld community! Skip to the end to read more posts in this holiday series and don’t forget to leave a comment if you’ve written a post about today’s topic!
Today’s topic is simple: how to write link bait . I think the term “link bait” has a bad connotation sometimes. People often use it to refer to articles that have fantastic headlines, but that don’t deliver on content, but that’s not really an accurate way to use the phrase. It can also be used to describe posts that are overly critical and insulting, even if the author doesn’t believe it, just to get people upset.
But link bait doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, good link bait can really help your community grow – or at least give you a boost in traffic for a few days, which is great for advertising and SEO purposes.
What makes a post good link bait? Humor, list posts that are easy to scan, heart-warming stories…Let’s take a look at some awesome posts about the art of writing link bait.
Post too long? Head to the Quick Links section for just a list of the links included in this post without all the analysis and quotes!
1. ‘Tis the Season for Link Baiting by Stephan Spencer at Search Engine Land
This post is right on the money if you ask me. Using whatever is being discussed in the news is a great way to write link bait pieces, and whatever holiday it happens to be is always a current event. Hey, why do you think I’m doing a series that coincides with Christmas? It’s my way of (hopefully!) making good content even more interesting. Stephan’s post also highlights another really cool holiday series and what makes the series such great link bait. He writes,
Noomii did a lot of things right with this campaign in a limited amount of time. For one, the site was built with off-the-shelf tools (WordPress and various free plugins), which means the creators didn’t need to spend a lot of time or money getting it up and running.
The concept is simple and easy to “get” right away. Someone stumbling upon the site will instantly understand the what it’s all about without the need to read the “About” section (the button for which, incidentally, is cleverly labeled “WTF?”, for “What the Fruitcake?”).
To read more about using the holidays to write link bait pieces, check out the full post at Search Engine Land. Stephan also writes at Stephan Spencer’s Scatterings and you can check out his book, The Art of SEO, if you’re interested in search engine optimization. Stephan is on Twitter @sspencer.
2. The Doll Experiment: What Babies Can Teach You About Writing Catchier Article Titles by Aman Basanti at Age of Marketing
Although link bait isn’t only about the headline, the title of your post really does matter. I like this post from Aman because it talks about the psychology behind writing a good post, rather than just being a list of tips we’ve all read before. Aman writes about an experiment where babies were show something unexpected and their results were measured. From the post:
If people pay more attention to unexpected events then it stands to reason that by using an unexpected element in your title, you can increase the chances of the title being noticed and clicked. That is, if you want your post title to be noticed give it an unexpected title.
3. How to Rescue a Bad Blog Headline by Stanford Smith at Pushing Social
This post is actually not about writing a great headline, but instead about writing a great opening (or lede) to your blog posts, much in the same way newspaper journalists write their openings. While we don’t always like to admit it, most of us decide whether or not we’re going to share a post before we’re even finished reading, so the link-bait-y-ness of a particular post depends a lot on your opening. Writes Stanford,
Your lede helps yours reader decide one critical question: do I keep reading or hit the back button? If you fail here, your post will never stand a chance.
You can diagnose whether your ledes suck.
4. Positive and Negative Link Baiting: The Risks and Rewards by Jennifer Van Iderstyne at Search Engine Watch
I think this post is a fantastic look at the different ways you can write link bait posts on your blog – and why the traffic you’ll get from a negative post may not be worth the traffic and SEO rewards. In this post, Jennifer talks about the problems of “bad” link bait, so if you’ve been considering this technique for traffic, you might want to check out what she has to say. Writes Jennifer,
There’s an old expression about catching more flies with honey than vinegar. We’d like to think that holds up on the web. But when it comes to negative link bait, it appears that some flies really dig Balsamic.
It may be less work that goes into negative link baiting and it may yield more results faster, but in the long term is it really good for you, your reputation, or your site? And positive link baiting may take longer and sometimes prove fruitless, but when you do well, you do really well.
5. How to Build Links to Your Website Without Selling Your Soul to the Devil by Marcus Sheridan at The Sales Lion
Marcus and I must be on the same wave length when it comes to post topics, because this one is hot off the press at The Sales Lion. Like Jennifer noted in the last post I linked, you don’t have to be negative to write great link bait. In this post, Marcus gives some proven techniques to help you write posts that really get others to link to you. He comes from a small business background, so I really like how his post incorporates those experiences to show you what works. Writes Marcus,
When Panda came out, people that had built their links through awesome content got rewarded.
Others that had been working for years to ‘game the system’ and take link building ‘shortcuts’ shot down the rankings or even got penalized by Google.
Great content is the ultimate ‘Anti-Panda’. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Google loves delivering it to their customers, and their customer (that’d be you and me) love reading it.
And that’s where the links start to build.
After checking out his post, you can follow Marcus on Twitter @TheSalesLion, like The Sales Lion on Facebook, and add him to your Google+ circles. You can also grab a free copy of his inbound and content marketing ebook by signing up for his mailing list.
6. Link Bait -A Viral Marketing Strategy Businesses Missed by Mark Acsay III at Webby Thoughts
This is a great overview of just what link bait is and how it can help you site. Mark lists the different techniques commonly used to create link bait, the essentials you need in every link bait piece, how to market your post so it has the potential to go viral, and how to find the “linkerati.” That’s a term that cracks me up and I absolutely LOVE it! Even better, he talks about how to monitor your success with link bait posts, which is something that many bloggers forget to do! Writes Mark,
Marketing for products has advanced together with the technology. Now, marketing a single product can reach millions of people around the globe. The idea of link baiting provides an avenue for business organizations to introduce their product at a bigger market. However, the technicalities should be considered since it also has limitations and risks.
7. White-Hat SEO + Social Media = Link Bait Magic by Ben Jackson at SEO Discovery (guest post for Problogger)
I like this post because it isn’t just a how-to guide on writing link bait – it talks about how to combine your great post with promotion to get some attention. I especially love his Drop My Link tip, since that is a tool I’ve never heard of before. And, more importantly, even though he’s an SEO guy, I like that Ben’s post doesn’t talk about shady ways to get as many links as possible at whatever cost. The focus here is on quality content, quality comments, and quality relationship-building with other bloggers. Writes Ben,
SEO is becoming less and less about traditional link building, and spamming becomes a dumber idea every day. If you focus on sharing quality content, creating a great user experience, and integrating social media, you are bound to grow your traffic and increase your rankings.
8. How To Make A Link Bait That Goes Viral by Rohan Pawale at TechLunatic
The terms “link bait” and “viral” go hand in hand, and in this post, Rohan talks about the intersection. He talks about some of the smartest tips I’ve heard in a long time! Create posts with information that people will forget (yes, really!). Map the success of other people. Use videos. The awesome advice goes on and on. If I sound like I’m gushing…it’s because I’m gushing, and y’all know that it takes a lot for me to gush. I love when I read a post where I learn brand new things about writing and marketing my content.
It takes military level precision to execute a perfect link bait. Everything from the number of outgoing and incoming links to the preferred social media should be planned in advance. Link bait if taken means a surge of very high PR incoming links and traffic.
For those of you short on time, here’s a list of the links covered in this post:
- ‘Tis the Season for Link Baiting by Stephan Spencer (@sspencer)
- The Doll Experiment: What Babies Can Teach You About Writing Catchier Article Titles by Aman Basanti (@ABasanti)
- How to Rescue a Bad Blog Headline by Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial)
- Positive and Negative Link Baiting: The Risks and Rewards by Jennifer Van Iderstyne (@Vanetcetera)
- How to Build Links to Your Website Without Selling Your Soul to the Devil by Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion)
- Link Bait -A Viral Marketing Strategy Businesses Missed by Mark Acsay III (@markacsay)
- White-Hat SEO + Social Media = Link Bait Magic by Ben Jackson (@SEODISCOVERYorg)
- How To Make A Link Bait That Goes Viral by Rohan Pawale (@techlunatic)
Other posts in the 12 New Media Days of Christmas series will be linked here as they go live:
12 Bloggers Monetizing
11 Emailers List-Building
10 Google+ Users a-Sharing
9 Vloggers Recording
8 Links a-Baiting (this post)
7 Community Managers a-Managing
6 Publishers a-Publishing
5 Traffic Tips
4 New Media Case Studies
3 Must-Read New Media Interviews
2 Top New Media News Stories of 2011
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
You can also check out the all the posts from 2010 and 2011 here, and don’t forget: If you wrote a post in 2011 about today’s topic (Link Bait), PLEASE leave the link in a comment below to share with the community!