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The 5 most important rules and 18 ideas for successful linkbaits

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Successful linkbaits are not easy. Especially for larger companies, whose websites resemble more an advertising brochure than interaction and do not yet understand SEO as an integral part of all marketing and business activities, it can be a big challenge to firstly reach and activate enough people and secondly to get enough budget and time as a service provider to execute a really successful linkbait.

But let’s take it nice and slow and start at the beginning:

What is actually a linkbait?


I actually like the definition of the Search Engine Journal best:

“Linkbait focuses on creating unique, useful and provocative content that people respond to by linking to it and sharing with others.”

Sounds easy! Is it?

First of all, unique and useful content should be at the core of any SEO strategy. You often hear the sentence “Create quality content, it will automatically attract links”. Also or just from the mouth of many SEOs. But let’s be honest, that alone is no longer enough to get the most out of it.

It is not enough to simply produce good content, it must also be suitable for viral distribution and enough people must take notice of it.

The 5 most important points for a successful linkbait:

1. the perfect linkbait is ideally not recognizable as such


People do not like to be bought, even less manipulated! So you should try to lay out your bait more subtly and force an action.

If it is already clear that this is a campaign for the targeted establishment of backlinks (e.g. SEO contest or competitions with backlink obligation), then at least be fair. In this case, being fair means: Don’t expect too much and above all don’t demand it impudently! A little more freedom here is good for the mood of all involved, as well as for the diversification of your link texts 😉

2. be linkable


A linkbait must offer something that others like to spread. Use people’s urge to distinguish themselves, to help others or to entertain themselves and others.

We are happy to recommend useful things, tell shocking, funny and interesting stories. We pick up controversial topics and talk about exclusive things.

Many concrete and effective examples and suggestions can be found below 🙂

3. the right intention – activate the right people


Make sure you have a very clear idea of who you want to ‘use’ as multipliers to reach your target group. Ideally, this is the same with viral distribution, so that your target group itself spreads the message and takes the bait.

What makes these people tick? What fascinates you? What could they need, what can we help you with or give you a reason to link to them?

Find this out in advance and deal with it specifically when designing and implementing the linkbait.

4. spread the bait, especially in the right channels


A general rule says that for a successful viral spread at the beginning of the campaign you need to reach at least 10% of the target group in the first step yourself. Depending on how high the distribution rate is and how many people are told about it at any given time, even with fewer “seeds” there can be successful distribution.

Think carefully about how you can reach as many users as possible at the beginning! A well-developed Digg, Twitter or Facebook account can be just as valuable as a well-developed e-mail/newsletter distribution list!

Friendly bloggers, entrepreneurs or forum operators can be addressed and even ‘good old’ (online) PR can work wonders 😉

5. Make it easy for users to distribute your content

Request for distribution at Oatmeal. Source: Marc Bitanga
Request for distribution at Oatmeal.
Source: Marc Bitanga

The easier you make it for people to spread your news, the more likely this will happen.

Twitter is a special phenomenon in this respect. A click on ReTweet is quickly done and so a lot of really good content and articles get numerous mentions in Tweets and ReTweets but very few real backlinks.

It is just as easy to post a tweet or click the Retweet button. It’s just as easy to click a Facebook, Digg-It or whatever button, but don’t slay the visitors with the options, if the choice is too difficult, usually no action is taken 😉 (Little tip from the world of conversion optimization).

Oatmeal is a good example of a useful invitation to redistribute (see right).

Does the linkbait pay off?

Does the linkbait pay off?

For every economically thinking person the question will hopefully arise: Does my linkbait pay off at all?

One thing is clear: A linkbait can generate links that you just can’t buy. (But nobody buys links anyway, no idea how I get to that)

The exciting thing is: Every linkbait has a chance of viral spread, so it can go through the roof. But there is never a guarantee!

Of course, in addition to the established links, positive side effects such as branding and increased awareness through a positive brand experience must also be taken into account.

A linkbait is not only about links! At least it should not be the only goal! Good actions and linkbaits also bring traffic, possibly even new customers and sales!

Should you land a coup and really big sites take up the topic, you will get besides much more trust also exactly the links that the competition does not have!

Linkbait a hook for links

Examples and suggestions for successful linkbaits

  • Arousing curiosity: conducting surveys
  • Interesting insights: conducting interviews
  • Exclusive reports, scandals, reporting on warnings
  • Launch ducks, hoaxes or fakestories
  • Free of charge: Giveaways and gifts
  • Reward users: Sweepstakes, Quizzes
  • Be helpful: checklists, create top lists, write instructions
  • Collect unique data: Carrying out trials and tests, compiling statistics and conducting research
  • Useful: Offer free tools or widgets
  • Writing reviews: Test and rate products
  • Multimedia: Create podcasts/videos
  • Host parties or sponsor events
  • Profiling yourself: Become a member of an association, participate in trade fairs
  • Charity: Donate or do something good
  • Competitions / Blog parades / Blog sticks
  • publish jokes
  • start teasing, or contradict other (important) people
  • Shock: Bad pictures, videos, facts

Very important: Be the first with your idea!

Google even says in the current post “Quality links to your site” by Kaspar Szymanski in the Google Webmaster Central Blog, what kind of linkbaits they recommend.

A very nice current linkbait is the linkbait generator. It generates fantastic headlines like: “8 pictures of hot chicks and zombies” or “10 amazing medical marijuana pictures”. I personally believe that the editorial team has long since integrated this thing into the editorial system. 😀

More articles about Linkbaits

As always I am very happy about inspiring comments, opinions or good and bad examples of linkbaits in the comments!


Kristin Eitel

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