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Much Ado about Link Baiting

There is a fairly new term being bounced around the web. This new term has a few people mystified, if they have even heard of it at all.

So I thought I would introduce you to the term (if you are not already familiar with it) and provide a description of what it is so that you too can understand the often misunderstood field of link baiting.

If you are like me one of the first things that comes to mind when you hear “link baiting” is fishing. That is because the term “bait” is usually associated with fishing. And in reality, link baiting is just that – getting content out there that will attract links.

When you fish, you must use the right bait on your hook to catch the type of fish you want. Usually a Salmon will go for different bait than a Trout. And the same goes for link baiting. The goal is to attract links to your website and you do this through the content you create and distribute online.

So how does link baiting work?

Performancing has a really good summary of what link baiting is. Essentially, you use a “hook” to attract links to your site. And there are 5 types of “hooks” or pages built to encourage links. They are: News, Contrary, Attack, Resource and Humor.

A News hook is one where you report on industry news. But it is not just a rehashing of someone else’s post. It should be unique – either a scoop that no one else has caught, or it could even be a summary of various viewpoints. A news hook could also be comprised of a story you have proved to be false.

Contrary hooks are when you contradict what someone else says. It should be someone prominent in the industry and it should be controversial. Political statements are often used as contrary hooks. All to often a politician says something that others disagree with. That disagreement becomes the hook.

Attack hooks take the contrary hooks a step further, by launching personal attacks on people taking the debunking of theories to the next level. For example, rather than merely disagreeing with something the politician says, the attack hook goes further, criticizing the politicians personal belief system, or how they live their life outside of the public spotlight.

Finally, A Resource hook is more of an informational page. It is one that aggregates a bunch of information and distills it for visitors. A good resource hook would be the Wikipedia, however individual pages can also be resource hooks.

So you know what a hook is. What is next?

Well, if you have decided how you are going to capture the link, you now need to write the content to do so. Because that is what link baiting is all about – writing content to encourage links back to your site.

Really, link baiting takes the concept of blogging to the next level. Rather than merely writing content for the sake of writing, you are now writing your content with the express purpose of capturing links.

Now think about that for a second. You are writing content for links. How is that going to work?

Well, if you have decided on your angle – the type of hook you will use – you next need to write the content BUT it needs to be compelling enough for someone else on the web to sit up, take notice and say “that's worth me linking to.”

And that is sometimes the hard part – crafting an article or blog post to be so compelling that others will notice it and link to it.

Think about it. There is so much content being generated on the web on a daily basis, how is one supposed to make their content stand out among the rest?

Making your link bait stand out among the crowd

It may not be as difficult as you think. Sure it is one thing to write a link worthy piece, but it is an entirely different animal to get it found.

Take this article, for example, how did you come across it?

Well there could be many avenues through which your article gets found, but right now some of the best ways to capture links is to use services such as Netscape, Digg and Reddit.

These are sites which allow visitors to post their own content. Other users then vote on the content. The more votes you receive, the higher up your page will rank in their system. But more importantly, the more votes you receive, the more reads you receive. That alone should result in more links.

Keep in mind, however, that this article is over simplifying the process. While what I've said is true – that you can figure out a topic and a hook, and then write it and submit it to Digg, in reality this is where the hard part begins.

That is because sites like Digg get thousands of submissions per day. So yes, it can be difficult to get noticed here.

How to get noticed in Digg and the others

There are many ways sites get noticed (and ultimately linked to) but it all starts with your submission's title. It has to be eye catching. It has to be something that makes someone who is merely scanning the recent listings stop and say to themselves “I need to read that.”

That is because most Digg (and other aggregation sites) are scanners. They scan through the most recent posts and only read what interests them.

Knowing that, here's what I've found works:

Lists – many times you will see things like “top 5 (insert term here)...” or “10 things (insert person's name here) can do better” and so on. People like to read lists and reviews.

Current news – often, the most visited posts are those that convey the most recent news. That means news that is not found somewhere else on the web. This goes back to the news hook – it has to be timely and relevant, but it also has to be first.

Contrary posts – also highly read and rated. This usually ties in to current news, but also takes advantage of lists (for example “top 10 things George Bush can do to end the war in Iraq.” Such a post as this takes advantage of all three of these types of things that work. First, it has a list, second, it takes advantage of current news and third, it is contrary in that is contradicts what some people believe.

But if you can't get Dugg, what next?

While getting “Dugg” (the term used when your listing gets high rankings in Digg) is the ideal situation, in that it can bring you many links quickly, these should not be your only avenue.

You can still use blog submission services such as Google Blog Search, Yahoo, Technorati and others. These services will also index your new content quickly, however they do not offer a ratings system like Digg and others do.

Just the same, however, others will find your articles this way and could link to them if they are compelling enough.

So there you have it – a quick run down on link baiting: From what it is, to how to do it. Keep in mind this is only an introduction to link baiting. Usually link baiting takes practice, however if you think you can do it, why not give it a shot?

Rob Sullivan
Search Engine Marketing and Brand Development Strategist
Get In Position

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