March 29, 2007
Link bait (n): Link bait is any content put on a website with the primary function of attracting links to that page or to another page on the site.
The purpose of link baiting is pretty obvious, to develop incoming links to your website. One thing that may not be clear however is how links to internal pages on your site helps you rank highly. The benefits are divided into two parts:
1. You will rank for more phrases. Building links to internal pages is a great way to get those pages ranking for related terms. For example, if you run a real estate site and you put out some great content on how to get a mortgage in yourtown, somestate and who your visitors should use and provide a few useful tools to help your visitors you can attract links to this page for mortgage-related phrases. This will then help you rank for phrases such as “mortgages yourtown somestate”, which in turn is going to drive traffic to your site.
2. You will boost the overall strength of your domain. Building links to internal pages helps build the link strength of your overall site. The internal links from the linked page to your other pages will be stronger and so, in turn, those pages become stronger. Stronger pages rank higher.
So we understand what link baiting is and what its purpose is however, how do you build it? This is a difficult question to answer as what makes good link bait can vary from site to site and industry to industry. In short though, you need to create something that others in your industry will find important, useful, or even humorous enough to link to.
Let’s use an example we all know, YouTube. If you view any given video on YouTube you’re going to find two ways to put that content on your site, link to it or embed it. The link provides the link bait benefits, embedding it provides the branding. They win either way. Now they have content to meet any persons’ needs/wants, but what do those of us with fairly fixed site topics do?
Here are the steps for building link bait:
- Figure out what appeals to those you want linking to you. This is not necessarily the same as what might appeal to your target market. When you’re doing this try to think about the types of people they are (likely very similar to you). Are they funny? Do they just want quick solutions to their problems? What do the people who own websites related to your topic want to provide for their visitors?
- Build it. If you want to provide a solution to an information gap, write up a great article. If you want to provide something humorous, do that. If you want to provide a useful tool on your site, write up your specs, hire a good developer and get it made.
- Test it. If you’re unsure as to how your new link bait will be received, test it. If you’ve written a great article on a subject you know people are interested in, try visiting a few forums and posting a link to it and see what the reaction is. You can do the same for humorous content and tools as well. Find out how they’re going to be received by your site visitors and site owners you are hoping will link to it.
- Launch it. Now it’s time to add it to your site. In the Testing stage we put it up on the site but didn’t link to it internally. Now it’s time to link to it from inside your site. If you feel your potential clients will enjoy it, why not add it to your navigation? If you feel it’s better for the people you want to link to you but not as useful for your potential clients then perhaps you’d be better of to build a resources page and link to it from there. Or, if you have a blog you can simply announce its launch on your blog.
- Promote it. Now it’s time to get the word out. There are a wide variety of methods for doing so and the most effective will vary by site category and who you want to reach. Here are some of the methods we have found most effective across a wide array of subjects:
– promotion on your site: large buttons on the homepage, in the navigation or other prominent spots
– press releases: if it’s a service or information that a wide variety of people will be interested in a press release is a great way to get the news out quickly
– forum posts: if what you are offering will help then why not tell them about it in related forums. Chances are there are people looking for the solution you are providing – post a link to it for them, and others, to see. This will provide you with a link from the forum and potentially many more as people find the information and feel it may help their visitors too
– newsletters: take out an add in an industry newsletter
- Monitor it. Now all that’s left is to watch your stats and backlink counts to monitor the success. If you find you’re getting solid traffic, or backlinks, or both it’s a sign you just might want to do more of the same. If the results aren’t as spectacular as you were hoping then you’d do well to consider how well you performed the five steps above, how they might be adjusted, and what else you can do.
It’s important to note that building link bait is not a “one off”. A successful site will continue to develop greater and greater numbers of incoming links through a variety of methods. Once you determine how to successfully link bait in your industry you’ll want to reproduce it periodically. Fortunately, with the results you’ll see if done properly – you’ll be happy to take the time to do so.
Author: Dave Davies is the CEO of Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Inc. Beanstalk provides search engine optimization services that are guaranteed to get results or your money back. For more information on how they can help you develop your link popularity through link baiting and other tactics visit their link popularity services and keep updated on the latest goings-on in the link popularity and SEO world on their blog.