You know you’ve created the best content when people share your content, because they want to, not because someone asked them to. If people perceive your content as useful, helpful, relevant, entertaining or attractive, it has the potential to be shared and re-shared until it goes viral. This content is called link bait.
What is link bait and when does it succeed?
When brands get more links to content on their website, their search rankings improve and they earn more traffic. Link bait is a type of content designed to encourage other websites’ linking to that content. Link bait attracts visitors, so even if they don’t convert, they can be added to a sales funnel using an email marketing autoresponder series.
There’s no right or wrong kind of link bait. It could be an infographic, it could be a video or it could be a slideshow. There is, however, a reliable formula to making it work.
Good link bait contains all of the following seven items:
- An interesting, shocking, entertaining, informative or otherwise excellent concept: If it isn’t based on a strong idea, link bait won’t be well received.
- Unique selling point: if link bait isn’t tailored specifically to your brand or concept, it’s likely that it’ll be pilfered by another content creator.
- Powerful SEO: Without the right keywords and topics, link bait won’t be discovered by people searching on Google.
- Resources: You have to invest in link bait. If you don’t dedicate sufficient resources to link bait, you may achieve less satisfactory results.
- Strong design: Your link bait has to be physically engaging and attractive. If it isn’t, it will look amateurish and won’t be taken seriously.
- Plan for outreach: The plan is for your link bait to go viral, which it never will without an outreach plan.
- A plan and process: Without planning, your content distribution process will be chaotic and ineffective.
Are there different kinds of link bait?
Some types of content lend themselves particularly well to viral link bait. The most common by far is infographics.
Content creators should keep in mind that there’s a definitive list of infographic no-nos! Infographics have to tell a story. They can’t just grab data from an article and repurpose it. They should stick to a color palette and not overwhelm the viewer. Consistency is the key, not just with the color schemes but with the fonts too. Infographics should be easy follow and stick to brand guidelines. And in my personal opinion, they should never incorporate humor that isn’t universal.
Another way to earn links is through ego bait. Ego bait does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s designed to play with the egos of those who you’re hoping to link to your website. Link bait can be a list that includes your target or simply a mention of your targeted website in an article. When using ego bait, it’s critical not to overplay your hand or you’ll come off as a sycophant.
Anything that provides value or rides a wave of momentum from a trending topic can attract high-quality links. As previously mentioned, slideshows and videos are common hooks, but link bait isn’t limited to traditional content. Freebies, expert interviews, how-to tutorials, eBooks, guest posts, quizzes, free tools or pure entertainment all have the potential to go viral.
Link bait can be a competition hosted on your blog. Competitions work especially well when they require votes, because when contestants need help from their friends, they are far more likely to promote the contest on their own social media networks, which brings us to the next point.
Outreach and amplification
The greatest content in the world will never go viral if it isn’t seen. Amplification should be incorporated into early planning, but if you’ve already created your killer link bait, that’s fine — just to work on outreach before you go public.
Create a list of targets in your niche area or industry and build a spreadsheet or other kind of database containing all your link prospects. Although you should scour sites on your own, use tools to help you gather prospects, including:
Next, use a tool like Screaming Frog to search your competitors and see what kind of links they’re getting, and then use a tool like Technorati to find the best blogs in your niche. Finally, use tools like TweepGuide to search social media for potentially helpful journalists to contact.
Sort your prospect into categories from high priority to low, and then, begin your outreach campaign.
Link bait must be well planned and backed up by data, meticulous audience research and SEO. It has to be built according to a process, it has to be well designed and it has to be amplified through a coordinated outreach campaign. When it works, however, your hard work will pay off when your infographic, contest, video or interview goes viral and breathes new life into your site traffic and Google rankings.
Over to you
Have you had a success story using link bait? What tips have worked for you to get content shared and amplified?