Attracting attention online is important, whether you run a blog, an ecommerce site or an offline business website. With all of the other sites out there screaming for visitors, being heard above the din can be difficult. Deploying linkbait content is a great strategy that will not only bring these visitors to your website, but will have others doing most of the work for you – for free!
Word of Mouth (with a Megaphone)
Word of mouth advertising has always been a great way for companies to attract new customers without spending tons of money on traditional advertisements. And essentially social media sites are like word of mouth advertising, but with a megaphone. The ability of good or interesting content to go viral is more likely on the internet, and the interconnected nature of the web means that it can spread farther and faster than it ever could offline.
One of the greatest difficulties with offline word of mouth advertising is that a business needs to find market leaders to spread the word about the business, those who aren’t well connected aren’t able to share the company’s message as widely. Unfortunately, authorities in a field, well-connected people in a community and celebrities aren’t always easy to approach or convince.
Linkbait content addresses this challenge. While contacting bloggers or those with large social media followings in a specific market can help spread the word about a business, linkbait attracts people on its own and encourages them to pass it on to others, leading to a phenomenon known as “viral marketing.”
The Good Virus
Viral marketing uses different forms of linkbait to start the spread of a message to an exponential number of contacts. Offline, a person is limited to the people he or she knows. Online, these same people can tell those they know, who then go on to tell others they know – and the list goes on. This is why cute kitten videos get a million hits apiece.
The trick with linkbait and viral marketing is to avoid making it look like linkbait. Most people can see through impure marketing motives, and web surfers may reject the content that a company wants to spread. When creating linkbait, the intention needs to be focused on creating valuable, marketable content – the rest will take care of itself.
For this reason, a solid linkbait campaign should result in a large number of links back to a website. This improves search engine rankings, as Google rewards sites with plenty of organic links. It should also increase the number of targeted visitors to a site – which can, in turn, increase sales and revenue.
Various Forms of Linkbait
If you want to harness the power of linkbait content for your website, know that there are several different types of linkbait that can be used to encourage links and attract visitors. Some are positive, and are used with the intent of informing, entertaining or flattering web surfers. Others take the “bait” part of linkbait literally and tend to use controversy, opposition or even insults to drive traffic. While both forms have their uses, you’ll need to determine what type of results and visitor experience you want to create when using linkbait techniques.
In general, the six most common types of linkbait are:
Attack – “Attack” linkbait pieces can be aimed at a specific target or large group, and are used to incite readers into clicking on the link. As you might expect, if not used carefully, this form of linkbait can backfire on the user.
Humor – Making people laugh is often a positive strategy when it comes to spreading links, which is why joke emails are usually passed along more frequently than political or religious messages. When used properly, this type of hook may reel in the largest catch of visitors online.
Contrary – “Contrary” linkbait is a milder form of the “incite readers” hook. It uses controversy to drive traffic, but it does it by revealing the other side of a popular opinion or theory. If backed with information and respect, playing devil’s advocate can also show the business as an industry leader in its field.
Incentive – Baiting a hook with offers such as free items, awards or software is a great way to bring in new visitors. Few people can pass up on something that’s free – just make sure that the terms of your offer are clear and that there’s no catch to the giveaway.
News – Offering RSS news feeds or the latest information on a specific topic is a fantastic way to drive traffic. There’s so much information available on the web that it isn’t easy for people to find it all. For this reason, being a “go to” source for current events should increase your initial traffic and repeat visitors.
Resource – One way to increase the number of new customers visiting your website is to demonstrate your authority as a “thought leader” in your industry. Creating informative content that resolves important problems for your target market is a great way to create viral links and drive search engine rankings.
17 Types of Linkbait
Now that we’ve established how valuable linkbait content can be and the different types of linkbait you can use to drive visitors to your website, here’s a list of a few specific linkbait styles you can use to improve your site’s online presence:
Video – 90% of web surfers will stop on a website that has a video. Video links also account for a majority of social media traffic, which is why creating videos is a one of the most common linkbait methods.
Infographics – Like videos, infographcis are informative and visually appealing. And, with the growing popularity of Pinterest, infographics are rising as one of the most popular forms of linkbait.
Lists – If it works for David Letterman, it can work for your business. “Top 10” style lists have always ranked well on the Internet, as they allow people to absorb a large amount of information in a short period.
Curative Posts – This type of content recaps the important news in a specific industry. Most people don’t have the time to do this on their own, so they appreciate sites that recount the important information for them either once a week or once a month.
Guides – Both free and paid guides are a great way to attract traffic and links. If the content is written well, it can be included in posts, articles and resource sites for a long time.
Surveys – Whether it’s business-related, political or personal, people love to take surveys. Use surveys to find out what a target market is interested in and increase traffic to your site.
Interviews – If you’re able to conduct interviews with authorities within your industry, these files can be used as viral-worthy content that’s sure to drive traffic.
Free Software – Shareware represents one of the most downloaded types of content on the web. Free tools and software that helps solve major problems or make life easier will often spread virally with little effort on your part.
Giveaways – Any form of freebie – whether an e-book, report, shareware or guide – that’s made available on your website is sure to attract attention from interested visitors.
Awards – If you offer awards on your site, contestants and winners will often visit your other pages as well. They’ll also share the links with their friends, family and social media contacts, leading to more traffic and more links for your site.
Contests – Offering contents is another surefire way to create natural links. As an example, asking people to choose a name for a new product or a new flavor for an existing product line are two popular forms of contest linkbait.
Widgets – As with shareware, helpful widgets tend to spread quickly throughout the web.
News – Keep people informed and prove yourself as an industry leader by posting breaking news in a specific field. If you’re the first to report on a major subject in your industry, you can expect to receive a major influx of backlinks and traffic!
Industry Discussions – Similar to reporting on breaking news, being the first site to explain new breakthroughs and market news on a consistent basis is a great way to build quality linkbait.
Previews – People generally want to know as much as they can about new products, services, books, movies and more before they buy. Writing informative previews about hot items in your industry can be a great way to promote your viral marketing campaigns with little effort
Year in Review – “Year in Review” style articles are always a great way to drive traffic. Recapping the major events that occurred in the past year, as well as how they affected your specific industry, is a great way to create viral-worthy content.
Incite a Response – This type of linkbait creates controversy by attacking a person or company, or playing devil’s advocate on a popular topic. This can backfire, though, so use this type of linkbait carefully.
Have you had good results with launching linkbait campaigns in the past? If so, share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!