The number of inbound links to your website is a metric used by search engines for ranking the website. The more links a website has to it, the higher rank it will obtain. So, naturally, SEO incorporates link building, as it is essential to getting high rankings. Enter link baiting, Wikipedia defines link baiting as, “Any content or feature within a website that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites.” In other words, link baiting is a method to get links to your page so it ranks higher. There are many different hooks of link baiting and I will discuss a few of them further below.
This is the most legitimate hook. Sites using informational hooks provide the reader with useful information. Wikipedia is a fine example. This may include educational articles, guides, pamphlets, or other useful data that readers can utilize. This informational hook hopes that readers will blog or write about like topics and use their page as a reference. The only downside is that it takes a lot of effort and time to create a citable work of valid information, but the amount of links one could acquire is almost always worth the extra effort.
This is another very legitimate hook and rather self explanatory. Sites using news hooks rely on providing the freshest of information to readers. This hook aims to provide content other sites do not have. These sits are constantly updating and attempting to provide information relevant to current events. They too are hoping that bloggers and writers will link back to them so that their sites rank higher in search engine results. There a few important subsets of news hooks like impact, prominence, proximity, and magnitude that must be considered before hoping for links. News hooks have the same downside as informational hooks, as it takes a lot to get accurate news and it is quite time consuming to constantly update the information.
Humor hooks typically involve humor, personal funny stories, funny cartoons, or even strange or odd images to attract links. Top-ten-lists can also fall into this category. If your site provides odd enouhg or funny enough content, readers may want to spread the joy to their friends. Even the most serious of bloggers need to inject humor into their blogs, and they often do it through images or stories. Humorous hooks provide this data. One of my favorite sites that use humorous hooks is failblog.org. The downside to this tactic is that the site doesn’t get as many links as informational and news hooks. However it does not require the grand effort either.
These hooks take a side on issues, often the unpopular side. From abortion to gay marriage to space aliens on Earth, these hooks want the reader to know an opinion based upon facts and want the reader to cite them as a source. These hooks could also include attacks on competitors. One needs a very strong brand if planning to use this strategy though. You might get away with a public rant or an against-the-grain opinion, but publicly attacking a competitor or an opinion held by many could potentially cost more than gain in the end.
There are other hooks too, but these four are the most commonly used amongst white hat SEO workers. Link baiting is a powerful technique for marketing especially since there is the potential for going viral. Look for a way to provide the reader with something interesting, resourceful, funny, or contrary and more and more sites will link to it. I am reminded of an old Kevin Costner film and it’s famous line, “If you build it, they will come.”