Today I want to provide you with a guide to linkbaiting, and how you can use it to drive more traffic to your site and achieve better search engine rankings.
Just to warn ya – today’s video is almost 10 minutes long so make sure you’ve got a nice comfy chair to watch from:
Linkbaiting isn’t really a new concept – people have been using it for years, it’s really just the term describe the use of website or blog content to generate one way links to that website.
And other than well crafted press releases, there really isn’t a more powerful or effective way to drive massive amounts of traffic and get tremendous boosts to your search engine rankings quickly. So if you’re serious about getting more eyeballs to your website, then you’ll add linkbaiting techniques to your link building war chest.
While any page can be linkbait, these days it’s most frequently associated with blog posts since a blog posts tends to allow a little more interactivity with your audience. So just keep that in mind when I’m talking about some of these techniques.
Linkbaiting, just like press releases, is all about getting attention. So let’s talk about some ways that you can get attention.
1) Great Content
This is the classic way of building links. All you need to do is provide great content. But what is great content? Well, it’s not the type of content you get by buying private label articles or by hiring some cheap writer in India. Just take a look at some of the top sites for very competitive terms in Google and notice the amount of content these sites provide not just on that page but ho many related pages they link to. For example, I was recently doing research on the term chapter 7 bankruptcy for a website I was considering developing, and found that I had to temporarily shelve the project simply because the content on the top sites was well beyond anything I could simply hire a cheap writer to create. Many of these pages had several thousand word descriptions of how it worked – I think one even exceeded 10,000 words – and all would be considered genuinely helpful to anyone who stopped by to read it.
When you’re creating your content, especially if you want it to be linkbait, you need to make sure that instead of just writing to get some words on a page that a person will really learn something on that page, even if they don’t buy anything or opt-in to your newsletter. Essentially, you need to create expert quality information that’s easy and interesting to read. It takes more time – a lot more time – than just quickly throwing up a blog post, but you’ll find that almost all the best sites in every niche take the time to do this.
2) The case study
This can be another great way to attract links. Take the time to do some research on a product or service and see if it lives up to its hype. For example, you could compare spam services and test how accurate each is, then publish your results. Heck, there’s one guy who taste tests energy drinks, and publishes the results. Do some research, find something in your niche that you could do a case study on, publish the results, oh and include pretty charts and graphs – people loves charts and graphs.
3) Controversy (stir the pot)
Say something to stir up some controversy. For example, if you’re in the search engine optimization niche, and you call all SEO specialists snake oil salesmen, you’re going to get some attention.
I have some personal experience with this topic. In 2006 I recorded a video promoting a social bookmarking service, put it on video sharing sites, and went about my day. Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning about two months after recording the video to an inbox full of hatemail. Apparently an influential blogger found my video offensive, used it as an example of what not to do, posted it on Digg.com and got a huge response for referring people to my video. Most people would consider being insulted in your niche an awful thing to happen to their business or reputation, but for me, I got a lot out of it. I got a lot of traffic to my site, a bunch of new links, several new subscribers, a new customer, and an interview request.
Saying something controversial on your site or making a video about it can be an extremely effective to generate discussion, and hence get you links.
Some people say that if you try to do this too often it can damage your credibility, but then again, there’s people like Howard Stern who’ve made a pretty good living being controversial 100% of the time.
4) Current Events
One way to get traffic is to tie your website into current events or to offer your own take on current event within your industry. The trick with using current events is to make sure they’re current. In this day of 24 hour news stations, constantly updated news websites like CNN.com, news that happened last week is already old news. Also, remember that it’s not enough to just cover the news, there are plenty of other sites that do that already. Give your own take on things and don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers with your views.
Start a contest on your site. I run an American Idol fan site just for fun, and one thing that we did to boost traffic to the site was run a competition to predict who the top three finalists were going to be, and we gave away CDs to everyone who got it right. This promotion got my site featured on several giveaway sites and was linked to in several other American Idol themed blogs. It resulted in a lot of traffic while the competition was open and we ended up getting a low more loyal readers to the site as a result. And with a fan site, you need as many readers as possible.
However, just having a competition or having great content isn’t always going to be enough, especially if you don’t already get a lot of traffic to your website.
You’re likely going to need to take matters into your own hands and do a little bit of self promotion. Also, keep in mind that not every type of linkbait you try is going to work. While I don’t like to use the term luck, since it implies you have no control, luck does play into things a little. Wildly successful linkbaiting campaigns require the right person or people seeing it at the right time.
Some estimates that I’ve seen are that for every four attempts at linkbait, not just regular blog posts, but actual attempts to create linkbait, one of them will get some links. Maybe one in twenty will be homeruns. So this is kind of like baseball you’re going to strike out more than you get a hit, and only once in a while hit one out of the park, but when you do, be ready for massive traffic and links.
One thing that you should do when creating linkbait is to think like a copywriter. For example, the most important element of a salesletter is the headline. If you write a compelling headline that attracts attention, you’re halfway there. Linkbaiting is the same way you need to write great headlines that will attract attention. Fortunately, it’s really easy to see what type of headlines are working, just head over to digg.com or netscape.com and read the headlines of the items that have made the popular pages.
Also, you don’t want to write like you’re trying to get in a scientific journal. Again, write like a copywriter. Use short paragraphs, informal grammar (i.e. write like you talk), use slang when appropriate, feel free to insert pictures and videos.
Also, don’t be afraid to do a little self promotion. Don’t wait for someone else to submit your post to digg or netscape do it yourself. Post in related forums and ask what people think or even email other bloggers and ask them for a critique.
And that’s linkbaiting in a nutshell.
While it’s not quite as simple as article marketing or directory submissions, it has tremendous upside, and is well worth learning how to do.
One of these days I’ll upload my hour long tutorial from my now unavailable link building course, Mission Unlinkable, but for there are plenty of good guides you can find online if you Google it or search Youtube.