We live in a sharing world driven by visuals, buzz, and what we “like.” The content we read is expected to meet our criteria of interesting, educational, useful, and entertaining. We show our affirmation by tweeting or sharing the post in some way (this is a good metric to see if you’re failing at content marketing).
At any given moment, unless you have your eyes closed or in a really dark room, we are inundated with information and have to choose what to pay attention to. Tadah! Enter linkbait! Historically, linkbait had a bad rep because it was used by sleazy marketers, but I think the digital age has matured and we can now see it for what it truly offers—a creative way to attract links and traffic.
What is linkbait
Link bait is a piece of content designed specifically to encourage people to share, link to, and embed for the purpose of the creator to receive back links and new leads, both of which drive conversions<–we like this word.
Linkbait can be as simple as sharing new research or complex like a microsite. Intuit has a great list of different types of linkbait. Good linkbait has been found to display certain attributes that help spur on popularity.
-Opinionated: While controversial issues like motorcycle laws or healthcare are considered linkbait, I prefer to drift away from saying be controversial and instead chose the word opinionated. You don’t want people to hate you, but a good, passionate article about a controversial topic that you really believe in can be successful linkbait.
-Entertaining: Good linkbait usually has some kind of humor or bizarre content to foster sharing. Everybody loves to laugh! This is probably one of the easiest characteristics of linkbait to achieve. Even journalists understand this characteristic of popular content. Unique/bizarre is one of their news values.
-Timeliness: Talking about journalist, current news, what we like to call real-time marketing when applied to brands, has become a huge hit as linkbait. For example, look at this microsite about the 2012 election. Notice the two associated links that are benefitting from the trove of link juice this timely and entertaining linkbait produced. Insider information or brand new information are both factors under this characteristic of great linkbait.
How to create a good piece of bait
Think of choosing your linkbait as sifting through a filter to find the best choice. Here is a list of filters, begin by writing down all possible linkbaits in their raw form (microsite, widget, infographic etc).
- Consider your audience. Which linkbait would be most effective for this group?
- Which bait do you have the time and resources to create?
- Which bait would be easiest and most successful to tie in your brand without loosing its viral capacity?
- What does your gut tell you? (Silly, I know. But going with your gut feeling on a certain linkbait can make the difference between being successful and wasting time.)
How to see your linkbait in action
- Open Site Explorer to view backlinks
- Social shares
- Google Anayltics to view traffic and conversions
- SEOmoz toolbar to view your domain authority
Rule of thumb when creating linkbait: Make it interesting and easy to share or use. Don’t be afraid to take a new approach or discover some interesting data to use as linkbait. For 10 great case studies of linkbait, check out the WebpageFX blog.