To quote from Wikipedia, link baits can be of several forms:
Informational hooks - Provide information that a reader may find very useful. Some rare tips and tricks or any personal experience through which readers can benefit.
News hooks - Provide fresh information and garner citations and links as the news spreads.
Humor hooks - Tell a funny story or a joke. A bizarre picture of your subject or mocking cartoons can also prove to be link bait.
Evil hooks - Saying something unpopular or mean may also yield a lot of attention. Writing about something that is not appealing about a product or a popular blogger. Provide strong reasons for it.
Tool hooks - Create some sort of tool that is useful enough that people link to it.
Widgets hooks - A badge or tool, that can be placed or embedded on other websites, with a link included.
The requirement of link bait should be more than merely interesting contents, instead it should be valuable and heart-touching materials that induce audiences to share it with their peers.
Always think from a visitor's perspective, you may find a piece of news very informative, or a piece of joke that is very funny, but what makes you put a link to it on your website / blog? More specifically, the link must NOT be a no-follow one. A perfect link bait can become a good landing page for your web site, eventually draw visitors to other pages as well, it may not be necessary to have every posts to be outstanding in your blog, just have one once in a while will be good enough.
We aim to build a sustainable, long-lasting link bait. The following is a check-list for you to do it step-by-step:
1. Brainstorm the contentBaseline: What kind of contents can actually interest you to read till the end?If you won't read to the end, hardly you find it valuable enough to link to it. Normally, we need longer essays in order to be informative enough. For a long lasting link bait, the content itself has to be substantial for recurrent visiting. Jokes or comic like contents can make people smile for a second, at most digg it or vote it on stumbleupon, but that won't last long. Spend some time to write a real good passage that is easy to read. Too wordy like this post may not be a good example.
Some contents can be:
- How-to List (101-list, How to do... etc)
- Cooking recipe
- New technology (must be new and have in-depth analysis.)
- Reviews (Movies, Games, Products etc. better with more photographs and illustrations. This kind of bait is time limited as long as the product itself is still popular)
- Controversial topic (eg. politics, deliberately induce discussion)
2. Give it a great titleBaseline: Imagine you are reading in your news aggregator with many title of same topic, what kind of title will make you click on it?
Probably I will go for some generic ones with titles can clearly deliver the message. Take the topic SEO for example, I may pick "How to optimize HTML pages for search engines" or "10 Tips for Link Baiting". Sometimes the contents within can be very generic, but you usually buy in for whatever reason. Lets have some more examples below:
- "The Office Guide to ...." - use authority
- "101 List for ...." - an easy checklist for reader (should be long one)
- "5 Steps to ...." - another checklist style
- "How to do .... in 24 hours" - sound interesting
- "Google Adwords (or other new products) Released." - should at least contain a link to the official site. Can attract visitor but hardly a link.
- "My first SEO website" - using the word "My", too personal, not related to reader at all.
- "「SEOの意外な裏技」" - good for Japanese readers only, readers confined geographically
- "SEO Professionals" - too generic, without clear description on contents.
3. Design the pageBaseline: From so many web pages that you have browsed, was there any good example of page layout that made you feel comfortable when reading?
So you may know from web design perspective, the followings matter:
- Title banner - should be eye catchy with professional fonts and color.
- Page Layout - can consider putting the main content in central or on the left with right sidebar.
- Line distant - not to be too tight and compact lest it becomes hard for reader to go through the whole page.
- Proper sub header - give readers a break from time to time, also to highlight the important parts.
- Font styles and color - not to use too sharp colors (eg. red), mild color makes readers' eye comfortable. No specific constraints on font styles, but Arial or Verdana are common good bets.
The good design of the page is to make sure the good contents are not wasted, we want our readers to read through the whole page and at last find it worthwhile to be linked to.
4. Submit it to social portalsBaseline: Do I know any of these sites, do I have accounts in them?
Do some homework, this one and the followings requires real hard work. We have to kickstart the initial promotion efforts before people to know about your page, however great the content is. Check out 50 Useful Links for Search Engine Optimization (Part 1) for the aggregation websites. Register accounts and submit your page:
- Yahoo buzz!
You may also consider to submit your links by:
- Actively reading and commenting on others' blog (Do NOT overdo it though, give real good comments)
- Participating in forums, use your website as signatures (in a professional way, don't just write two sentence and give a link)
5. Boost up the initial visitsBaseline: How to keep your page listed at the top of featured list and sustain its popularity?
Same as starting up anything new, you have to build the reputation yourself in a good way. If you are starting a newsgroup, you may need a group of people to keep discussing until it is vibrant enough to attract outsiders to join. After you submit the page to portals, it is no harm to digg it once yourself, or vote it yourself, but just once! Notify your friends or peers to vote for you, build up a few votes and it will stay on top of list for some time. The rest will depends on your true contents, if it is good enough for others as well, people will digg or vote it for you until it gets into the top / feature list. Trust the snowball effects, the more people votes for it, the higher the chance you can get linked, more links means higher authority in Technorati which in turns will draw another tide of visitors.
Good and everlasting contents will not fade out with time. An essay can still be popular after a year time, it is always good investment to spend some time on composing now.
6. Follow upBaseline: If you are posting on a forum, how to keep your thread on top of list all the time?
Visitors will have comments for your page, answer them. This will keep your page refreshed and active. New contents will tell search engines that your page is updated and get re-indexed. This in turn will give you a higher possible page rank. Your readers may love your site somehow, follow up with new related posts and keep your recurrent visitors.
Again, trust the snow ball effect, unless you slowly become a lousy writer again, or you actually abandon your web site, you can never expect how your visitor can draw new visitors (by sharing your page, social bookmark or whatever). But you have to pay in effort to sustain them.
7. Avoid the DON'Ts
Baseline: Is there any stupid things that I have done to fool the search engines before? Have I ever succeeded?
Be a good and ethical author. Your reputation is much more important than the traffic itself. Build good contents instead of taking shortcuts, the simple tricks that you can think of, search engines and social portals thought of that long time back and probably have ways to guard against them.
Try not to do the following:
- Link spamming
- Register a lot of accounts in digg and digg a lot of times (what about your IP)
- Comment spam others' blogs, say a few words and give a link (your comments can also be searched in search engines later on, readers will judge those also, demonstrate your substance)
- Spam the forum, same way
The last suggestion I have: Be Patient. You don't expect your readers to be linking to you over-night. Even for superb contents it will take some time to become popular. Just sit back and wait for good things to happen.