What Is “Linkbaiting”?

Darren Franks - January 16, 2009

Defining the term “linkbaiting” is not an easy task. It can encompass many different techniques for many different practices, ranging from running contests to antagonizing other bloggers in the hope of gaining some sort of retaliation so they will link back to you. You can also provide other webmasters with tools (with embedded links back to your own site) that they can put on their site.

There are many types of linkbaiting. As outlined above, being controversial will always get your blog post or online article noticed and inspire someone to link to you from their site. Getting attention this way is not new. People have been doing this for years. Howard Stern isn’t popular just because he has a good radio voice. People take notice when he says something outrageous. This is a great business model and something that could be applied to your site. Controversial posts can get immediate and strong reactions. YouTube has gained notoriety for its plethora of wacky videos that people love posting on their MySpace profiles and showing to their friends.

People also love linking to “lists”. People seem to latch onto them and enjoy reading them because of their simplicity. They can also be very persuasive when all of the items get straight to the point and summarize each point succinctly. Using humor in your blog post or article can be great linkbait as people tend to enjoy funny observations and like passing them on.

Even though the term “linkbaiting” seems negative, it is really just a technique to get people to naturally link to you and get your site or blog noticed. The negative connotations associated with linkbaiting have arisen because of the various forms of “Blackhat” SEOs using unethical ways to get people to link to their content. Examples of Blackhat linkbaiting include over antagonizing a popular blogger in a comment just so he will engage in conversation with you and link back to your site. This is sometimes referred to as “comment spamming”. Also, using bizarre headlines to gain notice and then just copying and pasting someone else’s article is another example of shady linkbaiting. Blackhat linkbaiting is not just bad for your reputation, it can also get you penalized by the search engines and that is something you never want to risk.

All in all, having a purely informational website with dull content just doesn’t cut it anymore. When trying to vie for web supremacy, it is always a good practice to be as creative as possible. There really isn’t a definitive list or technique for baiting links, but people seem to be creating new forms of linkbait all the time.

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