SEO Advice: linkbait and linkbaiting

(just a quick post.)

On a meta-level, I think of “linkbait” as something interesting enough to catch people’s attention, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are a lot of ways to do that, including putting in sweat-of-the-brow work to generate data or insights, or it can be as simple as being creative. You can also say something controversial to generate discussion (this last one gets tired if you overuse it, though). Sometimes even a little bit of work can generate a reason for people to link to you.

Example 1: Danny Sullivan actually sat down and checked the spam filtering accuracy of SpamCop, Yahoo Mail, and Gmail. And not once or twice, but three different times. Personally, counting false positives in your Spam folder would annoy me to death, but putting in that work generates insights on the differences between the competing services. Admittedly, the results will vary by individual, but as the great Fred Brooks would remark, often some data is better than no data at all. Now Danny doesn’t need any more links than he already has, but it’s producing info-laden content that makes a site or blog well-known over time.

Example 2: You can be creative. I’m happy to link to Marc Hil Macalua for a creative app that he wrote in which you can vote on head-to-head battles between SEOs. The Ning service attempts to make it easy for people to write social web apps, so this is a really easy app to create: just drop in your own photos and you’re good to go. Now did Marc do a ton of work? Well, a little bit, but not a ton. But he had that creative insight of something that would grab people’s attention and generate discussion. By the way, it looks like someone is click-spamming on DaveN’s behalf. ;)

Example 3: Saying something controversial. You can be cheeky, like Threadwatch, or you can be incredibly earnest. I give the creator of Google Watch credit for staking out the “anti-Google” territory way before anyone else. Later, Andrew Orlowski probably realized that taking potshots at Google or blogs was a way to generate lots of discussion. By the time it trickles down to sites like FuckedGoogle or whatever, it gets to be “done”–that niche is starting to be tapped out. So how do you take a new approach?

Example 4: Back to something creative: the Google: Evil or Not? site. The site takes RSS feeds that mention Google, lets people vote between Real Good or Real Evil, and adds a graph. It took a little bit of work, but probably not a ton. How much work would it be to extend that to another subject, like graphing the mojo levels at the Yahooplex as it waxes or wanes?

Linkbaiting sounds like a bad thing, but especially if it’s interesting information or fun, it doesn’t have to have negative connotations. I hereby claim that content can be both white-hat and yet still be wonderful “bait” for links (e.g. Danny’s spam email analysis). And generating information or ideas that people talk about is a surefire way to generate links. Personally, I’d lean toward producing interesting data or having a creative idea rather than spouting really controversial ideas 100% of the time. If everything you ever say is controversial, it can be entertaining, but it’s harder to maintain credibility over the long haul.

192 Responses to SEO Advice: linkbait and linkbaiting (Leave a comment)

  1. Agreed. I think the term sounds bad because it was created (does anyone know the origin?) to describe content created in order to garner links, but as such, it’s a misnomer. Really good content, no matter what its creator’s intent was, draws links in the old fashioned “web democracy” way, and it’s certainly the best long-term strategy, because it’s not about getting links; it’s about serving and expanding your audience.

  2. Thanks Matt. On my blog I write about Google and the other’s every single day. There are two things I like to do the most:

    1) Shine a light on the scammers
    2) Talk about Google.

    I even had a scene from the Matrix in mind this morning. The scene goes like this. The dock is being overrun and the 16 year old boy is in an APU. He has to shoot the chains holding the counter weights for the doors to open to let one of the hover craft in. Before the boy pulls the trigger he says “Neo, I believe.”

    I played off of that today in one of my post. Is it worth a link? Well, time will tell… ;) If that isn’t, the scammer expose I am running certainly is.

    Paul

  3. BTW – this is my blog
    blog.skygle.com

  4. aww, Matt you’re giving away my best secrets here lol.

    Every site I do i ask myself “is this something somebody will talk about in their myspace or blogspot etc..”

    The goal is to create buzz. On some of my sites, I even offer cut and past HTML for “include this in your myspace”. It’s working pretty good. Of course, it also helps to have cool content that people actually want to talk about.

  5. I find that making tools that you on your website free for other people is a good form of link building… it involves trust but people really wanted them they could nick them anyway

  6. Not only a great post – but this is why I like Google.

    The fact that a Google representative would link to FuckedGoogle says a lot.

    Can you imagine the other big search companies doing that? They would probably sue for defamation and copyright infringement.

    Google gets it – since you can’t hide your detractors… simply embrace them,

  7. I’ve been meaning to link to Google Watch and similar folks for a while. Hope they don’t mind. :)

  8. linkbait? Then what’s it called when someone links to a site because they think others may find it useful?

    Sometimes a link is just a link…

  9. Trying to stay focused here but got to playing the ning game. Fun!

    But you are so right. Too many try to get linked in the most awkward ways when taking it back to basics is what works best… copy that is of great value to the visitor and obviously written in a way that will make them come back for more… as we do here.

  10. VJ

    This all is so very true! Most of the traffic to my hobby site (at least for now) comes from a stupid tutorial that I wrote one day sitting at a coffee shop. I ended up building the whole site around it as the only thing I had at the time was the domain, and a few silly posts on the site. The tutorial was even submitted to Digg by someone, and it’s been dugg 20 times so far (it took a few months for those diggs to come in though).

    I didn’t do this intentionally, but I don’t see anything wrong with putting something on your site which makes people want to link to, be it silly, offensive, useful, or otherwise.

  11. Brandon

    Frankly, “linkbaiting” sounds to me just like “being a good webmaster”. If we want our website to be considered worthwhile, then we need to add content to it that people want to link to naturally. So what do people link to naturally? Things that are informative / creative / controversial / combination / etc. Which is the description given these days to “linkbaiting”.

    Frankly, I kinda have a hard time seeing how “linkbaiting” is a really new concept. It sounds more like a page from Brett’s 26 steps, only given obvious applications.

    But that’s just me.

  12. Mike

    I have actually tried this on one domain that I work on. The site does not do very well on Google, but dominates the keywords I target on Yahoo and MSN.

    I would imagine that the domain I am referring to was “sandboxed”, but it looks like it may be coming out soon ( i hope). I spent a lot of time on this particular website and tried the linkbait concept out. When i look at google analytics, i can clearly see that people are navigating much better and deeper in the site because of it.

  13. Being controversial seems like the easiest of the three. Not everybody can be creative and nobody wants to role up their sleeves and actually work for traffic! Thanks for the insight Matt.

  14. Example #5: Be Matt Cutts. Before you even get a ding from Bloglines that his blog is updated, 3 other blogs in your list already posted about the latest update.

  15. Brandon, I’ve heard it called “white hat content spamming”–i.e., writing real content to attract links. :)

  16. Dave

    I find it astounding that most only sit-up and take note when a catchy phrase is used to describe what most of us white hats have been doing for years! They call “linkbait” I call it content.

  17. Dave

    RE: “Admittedly, the results will vary by individual, but as the great Fred Brooks would remark, often some data is better than no data at all”

    Actually, the phrase “a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing” comes to my mind :)

  18. As they say…..content is king!

  19. Very nice article. I think the best thing to to is right articles on topics you like but not thinking of a topic just to gain links.

  20. Kudos to Matt for linking to Google critics, which shows great “sportsmanship”…. I hope this doesn’t get you a call from the Public Relations team. Hey, at Google your PR people must get confused when YOU talk about “PR”.

  21. How different is “link baiting” from “viral marketing”?

  22. Art

    Radio shock jocks earn their entire income from Example3 (using controversy). The internet can learn a lot of marketing tips from other mediums.

  23. The original “link baiters” must have been the folks who engineered that Marilyn Monroe publicity shot with the dress.

    Now will the real slim shady please stand up?

    Jarboe, you have the floor.

  24. walkman

    Matt,
    how would Google view links to your, let’s say blog, on site.com/blog or /funny_pictures when your site.com is bikes-r-us.com and sells bikes or something like totally unrelated? I mean, would Google punish a site for such a “trick,” if it comes to an engineers attention?

  25. It seems as though everyone is talking about link baiting this week. ;)

    Link bait can be controversial or funny–but it doesn’t have to be. Websites in many industries frequently add glossaries and dictionaries to their sites–not only because it is on-topic content, but it’s also link bait.

    The link bait concept has been around for years and years–newspapers use it to get you to buy their paper (in the form of headlines). The nightly news has been using it as a teaser during the day to get you to watch their newscast.

    The internet is another medium–and every website needs a catch or a hook. Some reason for you to go there–some reason for another site to link to you. Not for search engine rankings but simply because they want to tell their users about another site, one that might be helpful, tasteless, controversial, or funny.

  26. I hate the term “link baiting”.

    To me, link baiting is putting something on the web just to bait links. If that is your only reason to put something on the web, or to express an opinion, then I can’t see it as anything more than that, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to link to “link bait”.

    Baiting links should never come to mind or be a factor when one is expressing an opinion. If it is a factor, then the opinion is not sincere.

    I don’t think Google Watch, ot Chris Beasly’s Google-watch-watch.com are link bait. They are sincere opinions of two sincere people.

    Danny Sullivan’s blog – no, I don’t see that as link baiting either. There should be a distiction between link-baiting and creating link-worthy content.

  27. Harith

    Good morning Matt

    No rush at all for a BigDaddy weather report. You just take your time :-)

    Talking about weather. There where you live, you have falling spam. Here we have falling white snow and the temp is minus 3 degree C (26.60 degF).

    Have a great day.

  28. Gordon

    For goodness sake, drop the “link bait” and replace it with “public relations”.

    This is not a new concept. This is the natural order of linking and dear old Matt is just highlighting how to do it as a “link strategy”.

    The sooner you learn to use safe and useful PR tactics to build links the less sites you have in “sandbox” *cough*.

  29. Well Matt, is this post about link-bait is a link-bait? ;)

  30. Also in this Edition: Watch out for falling Matt Cutts Site (PR-7 down to PR-0)

    While checking some statistics for our page http://www.sofizar.com/click-fraud-services.php, we noticed a strange “phenomena”(http://www.zaralyzer.com/googlepragent/prchecker.aspx?url=http://www.sofizar.com/click-fraud-services.php ). It’s page rank is sinking fast, from 5 all the way down to zero.

    Shocking! A manual penalty by Google? We are not naughty, Big G. Really! Plus, in the past few months, we have had a bunch of sites link to us. Partly due to our articles http://www.sofizar.com/adsense-fraud.php (which alas is sinking from 5 to zero) as well as our press release (http://www.sofizar.com/press-release-google.php ). Or perhaps, Messrs. Brin and Page have revised their page rank algorithm( explained for mere mortals here http://www.sem-faq.com/improve-google-pagerank.php) so that increasing incoming links are given a penalty?

    Well, we tried to validate our results and slapped together a little tool( http://www.zaralyzer.com/googlepragent/prchecker.aspx?url=http://www.mattcutts.com/blog ). To our chagrin, Google maintains it’s own rank of a perfect 10. Darn! Wait, let’s try our ex-arch rivals, the urchins from Sandy Eggo. http://www.urchin.com . Aha—dropping like a stone from a 8 to a zero.

    Let’s check the one guy( http://www.mattcutts.com/blog ), who Google is most likely to penalize for his column on link baiting. Exactly what I thought! His blog has been penalized too and he is now sinking from PR-7 to a PR-0. Don’t believe it? Try this screen shot ( ).

    Also, the cache command seems to be dead (cache:http://www.ticketnest.com/ ). Strange things are afoot indeed.

    Coming to think of it, we too have put in quite a few links to all kinds of sites. We prefer his revised term: “White hat content spamming”

    For Details please visit http://ww.sem-faq.com/pagerank-checker.php

  31. Good definition. Personally, I vote for quality every time. I can’t even imagine spending time creating content that isn’t of good quality.

    (And hopefully readers think it is, too. LOL)

  32. german

    Harith,

    About spam there is still a big way to go. Yesterday I wen’t too google to look for a free online birthday card for a friend on google. After having gone 5 pages of redirects, directories and cloacking, I went to the 10th page. There I found more or less interesting pages (at least less spammy because I wasn’t redirected to an out of topic page) but still not exacly what I wanted. I went through to the 15th page and there google stopped showing me any results although there should have been millions of results.
    To my dismay, I went to MSN and found something on the 1st page and something I liked on the 2nd page.
    I think you won’t have to worry about your job in Google :-)

  33. cornwall

    “Saying something controversial. You can be cheeky, like Threadwatch, or you can be incredibly earnest”

    You shouldn’t let them all know that, Matt. Some of them still think TW is “incredibly earnest”

  34. ” If everything you ever say is controversial, it can be entertaining, but it’s harder to maintain credibility over the long haul.”

    How True, Matt!! But these people are “Master Linkbait’ers” with 32,196 inbound links = http://www.nationalenquirer.com/

    Even their totally “legit” stories no longer have a lot of credibility, but they are good for a laugh, IMO = http://d21c.com/walpurgis9/happies/faces/019.gif

  35. isn’t this the whole point of making websites in the first place?

    To offer something useful that people will tell their friends about?

    The offline marketing world has known this secret for years; and they didn’t need a catchy phrase to describe it.

    However, inventing phrases is fun… Let me try:

    Wikiteering: verb – The act of creating wikipedia articles with the sole purpose of linking one’s site in the “external resources” section. Can also include simply adding one’s url to any related wikipedia articles in an attempt to build pagerank with Google.

    There.. new term, take it an run with it :) Just make sure you send me the royalty checks.

    Inventing words for things that people already do is fun :)

  36. ‘Link Baiting’ if it must be called that takes it shape in many different ways. There are many things you can do to attract links from publishing good informative articles to building apps that other site owners can use.

    In some ways the penalizing of sites that buy in hundreds of links has lead to a spout of creativity to find a happy medium that will allow natural linking.
    This should be encouraged; after all good rankings come from good content and apps that will be linked too.

  37. WFB

    Linkbait, visitorbait, content, value – I’m glad there are so many advocating the ‘way it should be.’ At the same time, once you create something valuable, what is the best way to get the Opinion Leaders to hear of your concept? Do most of you use PR’s or post on a forum or how?

  38. Dave

    Bait=to lure, to trap etc

    As Google are trying to stamp out spam and unethical practices, “bait” is NOT a word Google employees should be perpetuating in anyway, shape or form IMO.

    Like I said, they say “link bait” I say content.

    Link bait is King???? NO, content is King

  39. Matt I got a good laugh from this article http://www.seochat*com/c/a/Link-Trading-Help/How-to-Steal-to-the-Top-of-Google-part-2/ I feel sure you have seen it but how on earth could anyone come up with this theory by submitting to http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl will hurt you page rank and search engine placement. This is really getting stupid and for a SEO website to host such an article, well I think I will submit them in the Google ad a url and get their page rank knocked and them knocked out of the searches…
    Matt thanks for the information you provide and the time you put into your blog for our benefit.

  40. Controversy works. Just look at WWE and Jerry Springer. :)

  41. Red Herrings spawn to grab clicks is Link Baiting…or maybe just a great setup line, depending on the punch that follows.

    Catchy phrases and interesting content isn’t link baiting, it’s good writing.

  42. Thanks for the post Matt.

    On my blog I’ve gone with the unique content approach. I post unique ways to market your business on a daily/weekly basis…all content is unique and hopefully people will start bookmarking soon.

    Brandon

  43. Michael Weir

    you said ‘bait’.

  44. Nice post Matt, I agree with what you’re saying…almost like getting other people to work the engines for you by doing something so interesting or that gets enough attention that people just got to link to it ;-)

  45. Hi Matt, many thanks. Just an update: it looks like you have a slight edge over DaveN, although Monkey Butt is gaining ground hehe :)

  46. I’ve been VERY satisfied with gmail spam filter. In fact I think its better than Yahoo or MSN.

    It literally gets around 95% which is fantastic.

    Thanks for a great filter and my (now) dedicated email account.

    Gary

  47. Hello Matt,

    Could you explain me how come this website ranks so well with so little backlinks, pages indexed and 3 links containing the same content?

    http://www.google.it/search?hl=it&q=music+codes&btnG=Cerca+con+Google&meta=

    Yes, I am talking about the first result. Actually, I want to ask you how come all those sites rank so well? The only relevant site there is http://www.musicvideocodes.com

    Could you please explain this and if really link building is still important? I am killing myself to build my backlinks and after some shitty websites take these high roles with keywords that I am working on? I call it unfair competition!

  48. It’s not all about backlinks. That site you mention has the keyword in the domain name, in the title, in a header on the page, and in a few other places. In fact, the name of the website is the same as the keyword you’re trying.

    Seems like it’s a pretty relevant result.. Back links or not.

    If I type pepsi, I get the pepsi website. Only makes sense that if i type “music codes” i get the music codes website no?

    Maybe we’re looking at a different top result.

    I do see some girl’s geocities page with nothing but banners on it listed in the top10 though.. so that worries me.

  49. The first result is:

    Music Codes Central – Back In Action! – Your #1 Music/Video Codes … – [ Traduci questa pagina ]
    Music Codes Central – Your Music/Music Video Codes source! Need music on your
    Xanga, Blurty, AIM Buddy4u profile, website, neopets shop, or blog journal?
    http://www.musiccodescentral.com/ – 16k

    If you read well and look inside the website they also say to have 3 links that have the same content. Also, the amazing thing is if you search “asxvideos” what I get it the myspace account and when some forum posts instead of the main website. That is just sad.

  50. It’s about time Google and the others STOPPED counting links as important in placing sites in the SERPS. The entire linking community has mis-used linking to such an extent in efforts to get better rankings that it has effectively destroyed decent Search Results.

    Algorithms need to be found that examine page content ONLY and IGNORE LINKS to other sites.

    Consider any subject – we’ll call it “subjectX”
    Currently, a good, informative site that holds the definitive work on “subjectX”, but only has a few links to its own clients and/or suppliers will get beaten hands down in the SERP’s by a poorly written site, that does NOT hold any real information on “subjectX”, just lots of adverts and is stuffed with keywords and has dozens of pages of links that are mostly unrelated to “subjectX”

    How?

    Because Google (and others) consider each of these links as a “vote of importance”. (LOL)

    So the REAL content is SERP’s these days is hidden in the depths whilst these link abusers take the top 10-100 results.

    The only place I can find where this does not seem to apply is Wisenut – which is now my preffered tool for finding real information for research, as Google is just to full of garbage and spam these days to be useful as a research tool.

    The situation is abysmal and getting worse.
    In short – it sucks!

    I just wish my own clients didn’t hold Google in such awe…

  51. Nothing unexpected been said during the show, but I enjoyed it ;-)

  52. I have written a lot of late about Google’s wretched Jagger update and the utter irrelevance of some of the returns on searches now. I also hear from a couple of my clients that their ad spend is now double what it was a year ago – which seems to exactly match Google’s share price. So irrelevance and profiteering have boosted market share and seen off Yahoo!. Great.

  53. Google will eventually rid itself of link abusers with improved algorithms and a semantic engine.

  54. Matt, as per your request, “Evil or Not?” is now tracking Yahoo’s evilness, as well as Microsoft’s. Take a look: http://evilornot.info/

  55. Interesting post Matt but why use the word linkbait? Linkbait
    is wrong
    as far as I’m concerned.

  56. With respect to linkbaiting, lets suppose that a web development company created a rss aggregator that takes rss headlines, creates a page for each article in the feed, actually uses the description/blurb provided in the RSS feed as the content for the page and then creates a “read more” link to the full article. It also uses the title of the new article as part of the filename for each page.

    Lets say the developer offers this program free under a GPL and just asks that the copyright notice (link back to the source/developer) remains at the footer of the page much like phpbb or any other popular GPL program available.

    Would this be considered a questionable linking scheme? It doesn’t seem to hurt the likes of phpbb or Mambo, etc… I would not have asked this question, but because of the growing popularity of this program and the exponential rate at which the pages are being generated based on the plethora of available rss feeds, “G” is currently indexing over 58,000 pages created using the program. The number of pages generated that link back to the source and the party responsible for the development of such a script, are we setting ourselves up for a potential penalty down the road?

    I noticed in your opening comments above…

    >>The site takes RSS feeds that mention Google

    >>I hereby claim that content can be both white-hat and yet still be wonderful “bait” for links

    With these comments, it seems like a lot of people have recognized the importance of having fresh relevant content on their websites and that RSS is a great tool than can be harnessed to accomplish this.

    I would love to see some thoughts on my questions above.

  57. Is this interesting enough to draw links? How about a tool that helps adword users build statistically meaningful pools of data out of lots of keyphrase data that would individually, be too small to make decisions on.

    A cool pool tool !!!
    http://learn-to-market-online116.blogspot.com/2006/02/ppc-analytics-pool-tool.html

  58. Linkbaiting + Digg = Good Traffic

  59. Andres – lets rather put it like this

    Linkbaiting – Good SE rankings
    Digg – Good traffic – temporary: unless its an epic (adj)
    Linkbaiting + Digg = Good SERP + Good temporary Traffic

  60. Professor E

    Check out this variation of the SEO contest link bait. bargaintix.com/tickets/student_seo_contest.htm They limit it to students only and you have to have an .edu extension in your email address. I guess they are hoping to bait .edu links especially.

  61. Ted

    Rule 2, mandating a clickable link to BargainTix was removed as it was deemed inappropriate. The purpose of this contest is to contribute and continue to develop the SEO industry, and we want to encourage students to take on this profession with some practical experience.

    http://www.bargaintix.com/tickets/student_seo_contest.htm

  62. Tony

    You are right. But I don’t see anything wrong with putting something on your site which makes people want to link to, be it silly, useful or otherwise. The internet can learn a lot of marketing tips from other mediums. Don’t think Google Watch are link bait. This is why when you look at google analytics, you may clearly see that people are navigating much better and deeper in the site because of it. I kind of agree with with that. , I have done a lot of researches for my Google SWOT Analysis-,but your article give me some more ideas for my next project. Thanks again

  63. I say quality, quality, quality. I think those with the best, most informative information should be rewarded for it. Controversy or whatever ploys are used to gain rankings are just that, ploys.

  64. To get thousand of links by creating sensation or something like neuclear chain reaction, is’nt it playing with emotion of webmasters? Just pondering.

  65. SEO Joke

    Whats the difference between a “SEO Consultant” and a used car salesman?

    SEO Joke – http://learn-to-market-online116.blogspot.com/2006/01/whats-difference-between-seo.html

  66. really a very nice post…

    what is interesting to note in link baiting is that even bad words and rumors about some thing also gain link popularity very fast. Even a rumor which may be unlikely to happen in reality will also gain decent number of links.

  67. I say link baiting is the way to go, as long as it’s from a good internet neighborhood, and the source is relevant to the content of the website you want the visitor to go to.

    Backlinks are a good way to build a good PR but there are several other methods that determine your search PR. Your website description and meta tags is the first place to start. Your meta tags are Most important. and should be the most relevant words describing your site an site features, the same with your meta description. Keep it simple an relevant to the content of your site.

    This site For example is ranked PR4 by google, why because the search spiders see everything being relevant: sitename – content – meta tags – meta description. Use this site as your example and you will be on your way to the top.

    SEO Your Website.

  68. Well, a “headline” is a gateway of your readers by which you can lead them toward your website. It can do more than simply grab attention especially if it is a compelling headline that promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, as the reader spend their valuable time to read it.

  69. Is linkbaiting really productive if the ultimate aim to get free, natural inbound links without caring much for the content?

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve read that all the top 3 search engines care more about link “quality” than “quantity”, e.g. relevance. So how does linkbaiting help with SEO?

  70. i THINK relevancy plays a crucial role in getting your website on top……………………

    Nice post on links building

  71. There’s no specific set of guidelines that differs linkbaiting practice from normal content building or promotional practices except for the fact that the knowledge you are creating is something that is specifically designed to appeal to link savvy bloggers and web content creators.

  72. I can understand link building for web designers, seo, or general software/consulting websites. It’s hard to imagine link baiting for say a candy store. Just a thought… Meanwhile I’m trying to think of one.. Also, I would think it’s a catch 22. How can you get people to take the bait without being well ranked and how can you rank high enough without it?

  73. I found this article from Todd’s blog (stuntdubl.com) and I want to say that while linkbaiting is a great way for getting inbound links, it’s difficult to get it to work for corporate websites.

    Also, once you have written a controversial article for example, how do you get word out without spamming?

  74. It seems that the relevancy of the site doesn’t matters when it comes to one way links. All you need to do is get the websites to link to you!!!!!! This might seem exaggeration or simplification of an enigma but I have seen some sties which out perform their competitors because of one way links and TOTALLY IRRELEVANT.

  75. Link Baiting … interesting …. mmm

    I do see a difference between standard quality content and link-baiting-content.

    I would say, have a look at my site, but don’t worry, I’ll just point it out, I like to think my content is interesting … about my work, because that is what it’s about, it’s not content to have content, it’s real info, although I do have spontanious links, it’s surely not link-baiting.

    I do find it weird that you (Matt) write about it so positively, it’s obviously that the concept of pageRanking based on links has been the key to your succes, but the abuse as a result of it is tremendous. I don’t think link baiting should be encouraged. Not for the tactic itself, but because of the sadness that anybody needs to use all kind of ‘smart’ tricks to camouflage his lack of personality.

    After all there’s still one factor more important then links … mounth to mounth advertisement, of course you can’t measure that.

    Anyway … Art is the reflection of the time spirit … so, didn’t I just answered one of the most difficult questions left unanswered !

    I’ll be writing a link-baiting page about it now ;-)

  76. Thanks for the information on link baiting, i was reading on another post that top ten numbered lists are a good way to gain inbound links, does anybody else find that? Matt, does google have preference towards lists?

  77. That was a good and informative post. And you said it right – too much controversial stuff doesn’t add much. Occasional controversial stuff + some creative apps may lead to a successful link bait. You may be interested to see my blog at blogspot, wish it tickles some of your gray cells.

  78. Due to the viral aspects of link baiting, inbound links increase very quickly without much additional input after it has been setup.

  79. G3 Creative would like to thank everyone that answered our linkbaiting question including the two bright sparks Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts.

    We like the idea of it but only want to be connected to professional graphic design websites and although we ofcourse want to sell our graphic design service, we also want to educate people especially Markateers on what the difference is between good design and BAD design.

    Tally Ho

    David Mac

    http://www.g3creative.co.uk

  80. Once again, – Link baiting itself isn’t a magic, it works together with other campaign / methodology / practice. Especially with our head.

  81. A prime example for linkbaiting seems to be controversial topics.
    One is right now on your front Page: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/im-on-debunking-duty/

    Linkbait by accident I would call that unless Isaac was real clever and intentionally meant to provocate the google fan community. One way or another he got the links.

  82. Hi Matt,

    First time on your blog. Would article marketing via EzineArticles could be considered as a form of a “link-bait”?

    Thanks.

  83. tony stagg

    There is more out there than Google and search engines. The audience might be inflamed with the controversial statements about SE, but if you are running dry content site selling cookers there is not much linkbaiting you can do.

  84. I would tend to agree with Brandon. For a startup website, link-baiting seems to me the most reasonable and logical way to attract in-bound links. Caution – not all links may be of good quality. How to do selective link-baiting?

  85. Thanks Matt, I had always been under the impression that linkbaiting was just another form of spam. Thanks for detailing how to use it effectively. By adding real value for our viewers some linkbaiting can benefit everyone.

  86. John A. Davis

    Aaron Pratt Said,
    January 30, 2006 @ 11:00 am

    Want to know how I feel about link baiting?

    I love it! Besides that, my reading for the weekend is now decided!

  87. Is it safe to say that nearly the entire internet publisher population participates in some form of linkbait? This is a simple operation that has been practiced by adverts/marketers for hundreds of years.
    We all know that controversy sells and that people need a kick-start to begin the “I want to check this out” process. Will it get old? It already has with email spam! Will it continue? Absolutely!
    Curiosity killed the cat…but satisfaction brought him back.
    With creative landings these linkbait phrasings are leaving behind their once bad reputation and are progressing toward a more appropriate trend.
    Buckle up…I don’t think we’ve seen the tip of the iceberg just yet.

    Rob Taormina
    http://www.myGooYah.com

  88. Linkbaiting is easier said than done, for a new site. For that site/person to be credible it would have to be around for some time with quality content.
    If a site was started up with a linkbait site all it would gain is a tone of out bound links to spam sites if not moderated.
    So my question is how would link baiting work best for a new site looking to gain credibility and inbound links; thats what link baiting is about, right?.

  89. To be honest, I’ve never heard of linkbaiting before!
    Anyway, thanks for the great resource.

  90. Thanks for this one. I featured an article on linkbaiting. Comments are appreciated. Click my name to read it.

  91. TJ

    Hey Matt,

    We are just getting started and your article really helped.

    We are a bit limited in what we can do as a company that serves other companies but we are always looking for new ways to grow our links and our rank.

  92. PC

    I appreciate the information on link baiting. It is great to get this kind of insight. I agree with many of the posts though that link baiting can be an extremely difficult way to get links, but I guess a good think isn’t supposted to be easy.

  93. It’s good to hear an authority for Google state that link baiting is ok if done correctly. If you think about it you can see that link bait often creates real value or items of interest for the online world. What are your opinions on writing articles and syndicating them to sites like EZine articles?

  94. That is very interesting. I have heard of link baiting and was going to give it a try. At first I thought it might not be right. seems kind of like a spammy thing to do but it could potentially be very usefull for building inbound links. Thanks.

  95. No Doubt link baiting can provide us alot of links in no time but shouldnt we have to do it daily.

    As on digg.com every second home page stories are shifted down.

    Whats future of this social bookmarking thing ?

    Cant we see 1000 of sites like digg.com – like i just saw one of indian guys site http://www.Tagza.com

    Where this storm will end by the way ?

  96. Hi Matt,

    Great article! I just published my own post on link-baiting in SPANISH here:
    http://www.profesorblog.com/2007/06/06/carnada-de-links/

    Keep up the good advice! Cheers from Barcelona!

    Diego
    http://www.drnegocios.com

  97. Hi to All,

    If you want to learn art of linkbaiting then read 20 Linkbaiting Techniques. It contain more common linkbaiting techniques.

  98. Hi, linkbaiting or link ninja, etc all help to bring more traffic to our blogs/sites. It is not easy to be creative (all the time) and I think that if people belong to a forum/group, they could help each other, should the topic/blog suit them. This link building is by genuine relationship.
    Otherwise, sending an email to stranger ask for link, can be mechanical.
    You never know, someone has a few blogs and you could JV together well.
    That is being `creative’ in creating Blogging JVs.
    What do you think?
    PS. I am studing Seo now, http://ambatchmasterpublisher.blogspot.com
    We have a contest to be #1 on Google for keyword (in blog). Hard work!

  99. Hi,

    I was just exposed to the concept of link baiting today and do not understand the difference between having good content and link baiting, which sounds rather grey hat to me.

    Will read the recommended report above in another post. This focus on getting links instead of writing good content concerns me.

    Studying Web 2.0 techniques now – I guess this is the way to go…

  100. The alternative way to gain a lot baiting links is to create any free useful application and install in the footer link to your site.

  101. Yes, but don’t you get a penalty quickly if you don’t do it the right way?

    I can imaging that google could see it as something not worth looking into if it doesn’t match the rest of your website.

  102. I hate flame link baiting :razz:

  103. Guy

    I consider link bait to be -

    Custom designed creative concepts that actively encourage linking from the visitor to the site for either benefit or interest.

    as opposed to

    Good content that you hope people will link to and cross reference.

    Sites that produce myspace layouts are perfect examples.

    I love the fact that its down to creativity, ultimately this will make the internet a better more educational and creative place.

    Plus i find being creative makes working a whole lot more fun………

    Matt says it better then me here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpcZyNW9E-w

  104. I was thinking on how to create link bait for the adult industry. Steamy pictures got kinda old over the years.

    You want to target people who actually can swallow the bait. Since news sites probably will not pick up adult content, the only option are bloggers.

    So, what is technical enough in nature to interest a blogger, but filthy enough to fit an adult site?

    Well, I went ahead and created an outdoor sex database for google earth:
    http://www.kiss-chance.net/outdoorsex.php (somewhat work safe). Go ahead, laugh!

    If something is popular, it’s always just a matter of time until an adult webmaster comes around and screws with it. :->

    Now blog it! ;-)

    P.S.: Curse them for using zip instead of gzip in KMZ files!

  105. I’ve read a googd advice on Seomoz: to make a site with any kind of awards or something like this, wait for links and make a 301 redirect :). Seomoz gathered more than 100000 links from their awards site. Good idea, really.

  106. Sam

    Hi Matt,

    These days I have observed a great link bait is bloggers writing about celebrities, posting pics and stuff. I recently read stuff that Brangelina photos were sold for more than $500,000 & Britney Spears, Lindsday Lohan pics sold for huge amounts of $$.
    Also lots of sensational stuff written & comments by Paris Hilton always hits headlines.

    I guess the lineage of link baiting comes from the entertainment industry where stars pass remarks & get written about which creates more hype for them. Hence renewed contracts for movie stars & more CD sales for hip hop artists.

    Now we see this in blogging too.

  107. Eu

    Agreed. Link bait is the magic word – of course it works. This is what SEO is about – how to catch people attention. That’s why we are all here. But link baiting alone is not working. We should combine it with SEM techniques.

  108. Hi Matt,
    The link bait debate goes on. There seems to be no doubt the controversy rules. Get people fired up about something and you will start the ball rolling.

    You know what they say, Good Press – Bad Press as long as their talking about me. Any advertising is good advertising.

    This post attracted me, and a lot of others, so Link Bait is definitely a controversial subject.

    Steve

  109. Well, we tried to validate our results and slapped together a little tool( http://www.zaralyzer.com/googlepragent/prchecker.aspx?url=http://www.mattcutts.com/blog ). To our chagrin, Google maintains it’s own rank of a perfect 10. Darn! Wait, let’s try our ex-arch rivals, the urchins from Sandy Eggo. http://www.urchin.com . Aha—dropping like a stone from a 8 to a zero.

    Let’s check the one guy( http://www.mattcutts.com/blog ), who Google is most likely to penalize for his column on link baiting. Exactly what I thought! His blog has been penalized too and he is now sinking from PR-7 to a PR-0. Don’t believe it? Try this screen shot ( ).

    Also, the cache command seems to be dead (cache:http://www.googlepackdownload.info/ ). Strange things are afoot indeed.

    Coming to think of it, we too have put in quite a few links to all kinds of sites. We prefer his revised term: “White hat content spamming”

  110. I’m just starting to learn about “the right way” of promoting my website as I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve decided to read at least 1 hr of material from your blog each day and post when I think I have something to say. This is my first post.

    Being in business for over 7 years, I’ve learned that being edgy and participating in forums, web discussions, and blogs is a great way of getting free advertising ..ie, making more money. It requires a little bit of sweat equity and being knowledgeable in your respected field doesn’t hurt either. I’ve learned that “slow and steady” beats the hare every time. Forget SEO tricks and stick with marketing your website and products with a grass roots effort and slowly but surely you’ll grow your business and climb in the rankings. Unfortunately, most people want thing done as of yesterday and lack patience. “Patience is a sign of intelligence” ….as the saying goes. And getting people to visit you with edgy headlines is another.

  111. I agree to all posters, but in my opinion Link Baiting can help in SEO depending upon what type of site he/she is running.

    Link Baiting can be successful on Movie, MP3 or Porn site, where users come for the purpose of just surfing and love to do surf. But for some serious site, in my experience it’s totally a flop idea (with all due respects to all those who is in favor of link baiting).

    I would like to say, gone are those days when people were fool enough for these baits, baits can work for fishes but no more for the internet surfers.

    Thanks,
    Sara.

  112. It’s a good article..as linkbaiting is a good ide for some purposes driving traffic to our sites. I think it depends on what the theme of our site and what traffic we would like to. In any cases it can be useless..but in many others it can be very powerful

  113. Very nice posts and insightful comments there! To linkbait I will consider to produce some creative tools for webmasters rather than look for any controversial hook.
    -Bob

  114. Very good article….although linkbaiting may seem like putting useless links in text it can also be very useful. I enjoy reading an article and at the bottom of the article there is a link that goes to another site with supporting materials.

    So I think it depends on the type of traffic coming through as to who will use the link or not. Sometimes they prove useless and other times they are lifesavers.

  115. Who honestly thinks linkbaiting is a totally bad thing?

    If you are reading an article about lean six sigma training and there is a link to a company that provides this then it is totally relevant and useful.

    Although I think linkbaiting can be good, I also agree with Sara. These links are most useful for those on the web for the simple enjoyment of surfing.

  116. Very insightful, it helped me to see that not every thing in SEO cyber world is so “black and white”.

  117. In my opinion Link Baiting is the real deal, and here you can tell whose “real” seo with plenty of ideas, to make people link to you and whose NOT

  118. Matt,
    I really agree with you that some of the best linkbait is often humorous. Many people seem to feel that its literally impossible to develop fun content for serious subjects. Case in point, I’m a programmer for a financial company where the marketers are constantly gripping about this very subject. So as a service to them and now for your readers I present #10 Reasons Santa Needs a Payday Loan:
    http://www.gimmiethescoop.com/index.php/finance/santa-needs-a-payday-loan/. It’s my sincerest wish that programmers everywhere hear this call and help thier challenged marketers.
    -Rich

  119. Alex

    Guys, don’t bother including your URLs… The comment section has the unpopular “nofollow” tag… Your site won’t get spidered. :)

  120. I enjoy reading an article and at the bottom of the article there is a link that goes to another site with supporting materials.

    So I think it depends on the type of traffic coming through as to who will use the link or not. Sometimes they prove useless and other times they are lifesavers.

  121. Very insightful, it helped me to see that not every thing in SEO cyber world is so “black and white”.
    http://www.chinastone-sink.com

  122. Link baiting is a new and progressive method of increasing link popularity.The above given points are very useful but it involves a lot of hard work,writing high quality content and proper popluarity.palcomonline is a web design,development and hosting company based in noida,we provide expert seo services.

  123. Nice to read a very new concept of link baiting from you…I would like to see some more posts from your end for better link baiting understanding..
    Thanks again for this gr8 post…

  124. link baiting ties a content to the web. must be very careful and need hard work. thanks Matt..

  125. wow

    Agree!I have build a new website and prepare to use “link bait” way to build external links.Original is the best

  126. I have a question-
    I agree with Matt that linkbait is a good thing, if it adds creativity to the web and is used in moderation. Quality content can come in different forms.

    I am curious: the now famous SEO case of mingle2 (which merged with justsayhi) where mingle2 created a scores of online quizzes (such as: ‘are you a geek?’) and subsequently allowed users to proudly display their results in a graphical link on their blog, which of course linked back to mingle2. The result was soaring traffic from linkbait that produced a 100,000 plus of links on blogs around the web. Does anyone think this was linkbait spam or simply a clever idea?

    I have been building my site the old fashion way with lots of hand crafted content, and feel maybe the mingle2 linkbait went a little too far, but maybe not? What is other people opinion about mingle2′s ideas. I think Google did not like it, but for other reason, that being, when mingle2 was bought by justsayhi, justsayhi took liberties and make it an affliate link machine.

    The justsayhi mistake aside is what mingle2 did acceptable linkbait?

  127. To answer my own question asked above about, is link bait an acceptable form of marketing as done by justsayhi. After reading everything on the web about it, including this well written defense by another Matt (Inman) http://www.seomoz.org/blog/widgetbait-gone-wild I would say this with my 20 20 hindsight:

    1) If the link ‘widget’ is related in a meaningful way to your site and it really is meaningful, rather than noise, I think it is ok. 2) The point where it crosses the line between white and black hat is when the link bait widget is about one thing and your site is about another.

    I still think focusing on content is a much more conservative method of marketing your site. I hate to sound cliche but quality content is the best form of link bait there is, not only is it safe, but the conversion of whatever you are selling is higher. So the proverb ‘virtue is its own reward’ applies here.

  128. I am very sorry to post one more time on this subject (I do not how to edit my comments). Above, I wanted to write link bait as done by justsayhi is not acceptable. ( I just miss wrote,really).
    Google was very correct in taking justsayhi off most searches and further after reading why Matt C’s group had not yet restated justsayhi (because justsayhi did not reveal all the domains they own when asked by google, they did not tell them about some other spamy sites they are connected with) I agree with google 100%. Link bait for the pure purpose of link building without regard to the content and meaning and its thematic relationship to the actual site is spam.

  129. Thanks for the information on link baiting. I am using only the right technique with my sites and it works really.

  130. Could being linked from low ranked websites using the link baiting technique harm your own website rankings? or is it merely a case of more links inbound the better?

  131. Great post explaining what quality linkbait is. Might be useful to add in some talk about articles that are heavily photo oriented, as these seem to be very attractive – as well as list posts.

  132. Greetings Matt and others!

    I guess link bait is only link bait when you call it link bait – or rather: SINCE we call it link bait. Now it has been given a name (which I like, by the way!), we have simply put a label on what most of us were already doing quite unconsiously before, to wit provoking others to help us do our work.

    It’s an old tactic with a new name, and when I say “old” I mean “OLD”! Our prehistoric ancestors already knew that you don’t catch fish with an empty hook – but a well-baited hook does the job quite nicely! You might even say that it’s not even the fisherman/woman who does the work, but the poor bait.

    There’s another parallel between “fish baiting” and “link baiting”. If you put a bait on the hook that’s too big for the fish to swallow, you’ll go home empty handed. Just so with link baiting: don’t make the bait too large and obtrusive, or your efforts will be in vain. Keep it small and attractive, and if possible: funny! Give people a giggle, and they’ll gladly bite – eh, sorry: link!

    Be well!

    Jaap Verduijn.

  133. Seams to me It’s all about intent, If your intent is selfish “monitary gain”
    or the information you provide really doesn’t have any value to readers. why would a stand up person want to subject thousands of people to this. “They wouldn’t” So hopefully someone could put that type of article in the cyber trash can where it belongs.

  134. It’s amazing how new buzz wording can create a whole new SEO current.
    I guess, as SEs get smarter so we have to. Something that the SEO community has to come to realize is that at the end of the day, only those content developer that can actully write interesting white or gray articles will survive.

  135. I know someone that loves to manipulate google from their blog and is actually very successful at it. He will take a funny phrase like “sexiest man in (city name)” and within 3-4 hours his blog article will rank #1 in google for that search term. Does google frown upon these activities or not?

  136. The link bait concept has been around for years and years–newspapers use it to get you to buy their paper (in the form of headlines). The nightly news has been using it as a teaser during the day to get you to watch their newscast.

  137. Greeting Matt. The information about link baiting is very useful for seo/link building purpose. But it involves hard work with dedication. However, if we hit it correctly, we will be rewarded for our hard work. Thanks.

  138. Is impersonating someone famous a good link-bait idea? :O
    -Jack

  139. Three years later and the discussion still goes on :) This is fantastic.

    I believe the negative connotation of “link-baiting” comes from putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. It sounds like you care more about getting links than adding value with whatever you create.

    Having said that, I do link-baiting and support those who do it properly. By properly I mean doing both, creating valuable content and formatting it in a way that it attracts good links.

  140. For someone wanting to link to something, dosn´t there have to be somekind of value?

    Well I´ve heard so much about you Matt, this is aactually my first “Matt Cutts post” but I´ll most def be back:)

  141. Matt,

    I know Google has a specific page which talks about proper linking strategies and I can’t seem to find it again. I’m kicking myself for not bookmarking it properly. Can someone help? This is great material, I’m devouring it all and hope it helps our ranking.

    Thanks for all the great tips!

    Ed

  142. i have tried link baiting a number of times by building lists but failed terribly.
    i gotto try building a website software or a wordpess plugin this time. Any suggestions?

  143. There are several WordPress plugins that can auto-generate content for link-baiting. However I observe from pro bloggers that good keyword research and then creating original quality content is still the best way to go.

  144. Link baiting is more than just lists, you have to do something big, something that would make you feel like you have win on lotto

  145. At the time the original entry was written I think link baiting, while beginning to gain popularity, was still kind of a secondary tool to build links. Today it has to be considered the primary, and if done properly, the most effective method out there. Way to be ahead of the curve!

  146. I have read this article a month ago and I manage to make a succes with linkbaiting and it’s all because of this writing. Congratulations!

  147. Hi – can link baiting work in porn? I find that a sites page that was setup for link bait does well in serp’s but it does not get any links simply because thats the way things are in adult. Can you suggest anything for people who write about adult to get link backs by link baiting?

    Thanks

  148. I was looking at this method for generating some interest in an old domain, that only recently had content put on it (shocking isn’t it!? – a ten year old domain that never had a website on it…what a waste). However, I feel link-baiting seems like an ‘underhand’ technique, or maybe that is just the general feel of that name (sounds like jail-baiting!). Are there any good SEO techniques beyond this to help my situation?

    Thanks for any insight.
    JT

  149. Matt, I saw Vlad’s comment above about article marketing via EzineArticles.com. It seems that Google doesn’t mind it but I’m wondering what your take is. It seems to me that if you write a good article, then EZA will accept it, so it meets their standards, which is why they have a lot of people linking to them. So it naturally works out just fine if you write content that is good and worth something.

    Thanks,
    -Tony

  150. This is one of those things that will remain “white hat” until people start abusing it. I am sure within a year or two it will be in the same basket as google bomb.

  151. Why is there nobody answer the question Lee ask. How different is “link baiting” from “viral marketing”?
    Is it the same? I quess it is.

  152. If you write good content and people link to it, how can that be bad? I go out of my way to write tutorials on my site just to get people to link to it. Reason 1: to teach people, Reason 2: to get links to my site. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  153. Alin

    Hi Matt,

    I wish to have you personal opinion about the “You should never have to link to an SEO” listed in http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291. I’m a SEO & SEM consultant, doing this for several years. I notice that in my country (and I’m sure not only in mine) more and more seo & sem consultants are using their clients site to put a link back to their site without nofollow attribute.

    I conducted several case studies and i saw that a lot from the seo & sem consultants sites have over 50 or 75% banklinks from clients. I’ve never put a link back to my site from a client site, so, for the people that are playing the game like me this is upsetting, because we can see this seo sites that are getting higher sometimes or for a lot of time.

    Why Google didn’t implement something or got this sites link back to manual evaluation or Google is happy with this ? Should i post a link back on all my clients sites to my seo site (I would like not to do) ? Should i provide my case study to Google regarding this (And How to, if yes) ?

    Best Regards,
    Alin

  154. Talk about link baiting – this guy on Linkedin the other day started a discussion “Social Medial for Business is CRAP!” – 2000+ comments and still counting – spark a discussion, get a response (although it may not always be positive)!

  155. seo

    I’ve never put a link back to my site from a client site, so, for the people that are playing the game like me this is upsetting, because we can see this seo sites that are getting higher sometimes or for a lot of time.

  156. I would like to know if pop unders are effective and if google penalize it. I have noticed that there are not so many offers out there to do link bait via pupunders

  157. We just recently started a campaign offering an”incorporate free” service. Our hard costs are about the same as we would normally pay for a lead, however its a great lead for us. Would this be considered link bait? Can I justify my free offer with the potential of more desperately needed links.
    Its been quite popular.

    Pro business credit is our primary service, now offering the free corporations as the bait.

  158. Ian

    Natural linkbaiting as used through good quality content was always the perceived ‘good’ way to go. Wonder now looking at the volume of very poor to non existent quality content showing in google results if that is now the case. Results for the last few months are returning rubbish. No help to the genuine websites.

  159. I still try to create such great contents-not linkbaiting-which contains some interesting or useful information not some negative or controversial stuff.

  160. I’m always interested to see that the top ten articles in a lot of sites, blogs, etc are top ten articles. :-) It seems to me the greatest linkbait fad is LISTS.

    I’m going to have to start working on a linkbait article with that in mind. As a soon-to-be RTW traveler, perhaps… the top 10 things I *think* will be most useful to have in my pack? Hehe.

  161. Wow, this post still amazes me that it’s still relevant even today! Although most of the types of links I’m seeing website owners sadly engaging in are link exchanges. You try to explain to them why those are not good links anyways and even show them this blog and Google’s official statements on the matter but some of them still don’t get it. Maybe you can write something else about that soon Matt…?

  162. As relevant as this weekend…

    I attended (sponsored in a small way) OCWordCamp (ocwordcamp.com) this last Saturday (April 24,2010). Linkbaiting came up in our after-session marketing discussion.

    I agree with the other commenters that the term is derogatory, however; if you have quality content, what you are doing is great and really appropriate.

    What has annoyed me lately, are the guys ‘selling’ the ability to get you on 1,000′s of websites through the use of automation.

    Google, Bing and others will have to figure out what is going on, and shut them down to keep the relevance of our searches high.

    As always, the dark side is tempting (they not only get traffic, I understand they have milk and cookies). With 80% + of web traffic generated by Search Engines, short-cuts to getting traffic quickly seem like an easy decision for some.

    Best Regards,

    Mike Anderle
    Simple Steps I.T.
    Artificially Intelligent Websites

  163. Link baiting sounds very compicated to me. (Maybe because there are no really helpfull descriptions in german) In past I wondered, why link-baiting services are very expensive.
    Thanks a lot for your post – I am really interested in understandig “link-baiting” – I hope one day I will understand.
    kind regards

  164. To me, the difference between link baiting and normal content is in the way you present it. Content that asks questions, or leaves questions unanswered will usually attract comments. Simply placing a “what do you think?” at the bottom of a post could be consider link baiting. Anything that sparks conversation is link baiting.

    I personally agree with those who feel the term doesn’t quite do the practice justice. Perhaps calling it “social enticing” might be better. Or maybe even “response baiting” would work, and better explain what it is.

  165. Very insightful, it helped me to see that not every thing in SEO cyber world is so “black and white”.

  166. I love the Matrix analogy

  167. Over the past couple of months I’ve been hired by people to design/illustrate their content, which I have recently learned is “Link Bait” ( being a right-brainer, I’m slow on the uptake with anything techy ). It’s still pretty foggy to me what happens with what I’m providing and I’m not interested in doing work that would be considered SPAM or underhanded in any way; how can I be sure I’m not involved with anything like that?

  168. As the word suggests, it is a “bait” to garner incoming links to your site. Once you stir the water, it would create ripples and gets online enthusiasts to talk about something you are promoting, like ideas, products or services.

    Is that a good description?

  169. @jason… marketers have been applying linkbaiting strategies since… forever!
    Linkbaiting is the ability to influence people’s thoughts by way of clever persuasion.

    It’s up to you what’s ethical or not.

    Check out Dr Robert Cialdini “Influence – The Psychology Of Persuasion”

  170. Suprising how many people feel this is underhand. Surely link baiting is only underhand if the linked content is not what’s promised? If not, then you’re good to go!

  171. I think one in every 20-25 posts can be link bait. This is usually something you spend hours before writing, while writing then fine tunning.

  172. How about making a free wordpress theme (with your link in the footer) and making it free available?

  173. The only problem I’ve found with linkbaiting is that sometimes, if your niche is not too popular, then you are going to have a hard time getting it to work… Any ideas for that?

  174. That’s totally organic and awesome … thank you

  175. In my opinion googles spam filter works like a charm. Link baiting isint a bad thing if you dont spam it too much.

  176. I think one of the better ways to create linkbait is put your information in a top10 list, an integrated picture, or a table. That way, it is not as easy for people to just copypaste it in their forum messages and or websites, and makes them more likely to actually create a link.

  177. Appreciate the rundown of link bait “types.” Most of the link bait I’ve generated has been totally by accident. Guess I should see what happens if I put some strategic thought to it!

  178. DiCarne – I think there are only two reasons people build sites:

    #1 As a hobby.
    #2 For cash.

    If your niche is not that popular, then I can’t really see it being worthwhile based on either #1 or #2 ?

  179. Yes, linkbaiting is one of the aspects that can really bring you many useful vistors to your website. You have to be clear and helpful in order for the fish to byte!

  180. I’ve been writing quality content for a long time and am interested in getting other people to use it. I assume you need to rank well already to get people to use the content? Are there any other ways to (ethically) speed up linking to your content?

  181. Link baiting, well its not really different from the idea of getting more people to read and share your article by having something interesting to say. However, there must be a way I can slag somebody off without making my business sound petty and watch the flow of links to the blog.

  182. Hey Matt,

    Where did the term “Link Baiting” come from anyway?

  183. Link baiting is aims to increase the quantity of high-quality, relevant links to a website. Some time its become lenghty task to full and complicated to handle with lack of fresh ideas.

  184. I like:
    You can be cheeky, like Threadwatch, or you can be incredibly earnest. I give the creator of Google Watch credit for staking out the “anti-Google” territory way before anyone else. Later, Andrew Orlowski probably realized that taking potshots at Google or blogs was a way to generate lots of discussion. By the time it trickles down to sites like FuckedGoogle or whatever, it gets to be “done”-that niche is starting to be tapped out. So how do you take a new approach?
    There is always a way

  185. Yes, agree. Not necessary have to present a contrary perspective on a controversial topic. Employ the universal language of humor can be effective, such as
    “If you’ve ever spoken in terms of having to ’301 redirect’ your focus from one task to another, then you might be an SEO…”

  186. Bunch of thanks for sharing this interesting & informative post, well done.

  187. Link Bait…. Isn’t all “good” web content link bait? Isn’t that what we all want for our websites? for them to be popular? We either do a good job of it or we don’t.

    Thanks for the discussion though Matt, always fascinating to hear your thoughts.

  188. Linkbaiting is fantastic. Using videos, quizzes, competitions, eBook, etc all great tools

  189. Hello Matt.

    Thanks for the information on link baiting.

    Every thing is fine with the concept. But I am a bit confuse. The reason is we often do contextual links for the website. We put relevant content to the relevant website with a hyperlink.

    But my pint is, then what is the difference between link baiting and contextual links. Because they looks same.

  190. Hi Matt,

    Interesting topic but this is just a simple lesson on creating good content and being rewarded with links.

    We do this all the time on our blog and it seems to work well!

    Cheers,
    Ben

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