Featured image by Andrey Suslov
“Link bait” is a catchy name for any piece of onsite content that does a good job of naturally attracting links that point to it. It’s a simple concept that’s somewhat tricky to execute. However, if you can master this technique, you’ll be able to improve results in your content marketing campaign, your SEO campaign, and any other peripheral marketing strategies connected to your content or brand reputation.
So what is it that makes link bait so effective, and how can you wield its power for your brand?
How Backlinks Work
Before we can dissect the power of link bait, we need to explore the power of backlinks in general. Backlinks are links pointing back to your site, and they can come from a wide range of different sources. Most conversations about backlinks stem from search engine optimization (SEO). This is the practice of increasing your rankings in search engines like Google.
Google and other search engines rank trustworthy content higher. Moreover, they evaluate trustworthiness in part based on the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your site. In other words, earning more links (and getting more valuable links for your profile) can help you rank higher in search engines over time. On top of that, links serve as a valuable source of referral traffic. In this way, they can improve your brand visibility.
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The Function of Link Bait
Building links directly can be extremely challenging. If you build links irresponsibly, they could get removed by the publishing domain. Or they could attract a penalty from Google after triggering its spam detection. Instead, it’s often better to attract links naturally.
Link bait is a piece of content on your site that has a high likelihood of attracting links from external sources. If it does a good job, it can singlehandedly attract enough links to boost your search engine rankings. Then it can attract thousands of new visitors to your site.
What Makes Link Bait Effective?
So what is it that makes a piece of link bait effective?
For starters, you need an original idea. Nobody’s going to link to an article with a title they’ve seen a thousand times already. If you want to stand out and earn links, you need to come up with a new idea—or at least a new angle for an existing idea.
One of the best ways to attract links is with your own original research. What information can you share that nobody else has access to? Research can be both time-intensive and expensive, but it’s worth it if it means earning new citations.
Writers frequently cite statistics in their work. What’s more, if you provide ample “linkworthy” statistics in your onsite content, it’s probably only a matter of time before someone cites it with a link. Research and come up with your own statistics. Alternatively, curate them from other sources as a kind of compilation.
If you want people to link to your piece as a standing authority on a given topic, you need to provide sufficient detail to appear authoritative. Make sure you cover the topic in as much depth as possible, providing arguments and counterarguments, and backing up your ideas with facts.
You can feasibly create a piece of link bait with purely written content, but you may be able to increase your chances of success by including images, video, or audio feeds. Multimedia content is sometimes easier to digest, and it definitely gets more attention when shared.
Your content should also appeal to a specific audience, industry, or target demographic. This should be exactly what someone is looking for. If you’re not sure how to accomplish this, pay attention to what your target audience shares and talks about on social media. What are they looking for?
Readable content tends to get more shares, more views, and more links. “Readable” means writing at a low vocabulary level with short, simple sentences. It also means breaking up your content with adequate spacing, as well as organizational tools like bulleted lists.
If you want to get the most value out of your link bait, it should also be evergreen. In other words, it should remain relevant years into the future. Update the piece as needed if the data change.
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Practice Makes Perfect When It Comes to Link Bait
Your first attempt at link bait isn’t going to be perfect. Moreover, it takes many effective pieces of link bait to make your strategy flourish. Accordingly, this is a long-term strategy that requires a dedicated mindset and a willingness to fail, learn, and adapt. If you can do this, and increasingly refine your approach to content, you can build a robust set of onsite content that propels your brand visibility, authority, and reputation into the upper echelons.