Linkbait is online content specifically designed to encourage others to organically link back to a particular page or website. Effective linkbaiting can prove a powerful tool in SEO with the quantity and quality of inbound links being assessed by search engine algorithms when ranking websites.

The primary focus of linkbait is to increase the number of high-quality, relevant links to a website by producing content that people will talk about on forums, blogs, social media sites etc.  Social media specifically offers huge potential in generating a substantial amount of links to a particular web page. After this naturally comes the ultimate goal of driving more traffic to the site which will hopefully incur increased revenue.

Defined by Matt Cutts as anything “interesting enough to catch people’s attention”  linkbait comes in many forms and is accomplished through a variety of approaches including articles, blogs, infographics, videos, quizzes, reviews, widgets, information, news, humour, controversy, lists, statistics, shocking and unique content.

With its viral nature linkbait can prove a powerful tool in online marketing and often includes the formulation of a mini PR campaign around the content itself in order to make bloggers and social media users aware of it in order to promote the linkbait.

Ethical linkbait

The term ‘linkbait’ or ‘linkbaiting’ is relatively new, although the practice itself has been endured by webmasters for years. People often react to the practice with suspicion, largely due to the negative connotations that come with the word ‘bait’ or ‘baiting’. There is a lot of debate around linkbaiting with people arguing that the technique, alongside linkbuilding is just glorified spamming. However, more and more SEO agencies are offering linkbaiting services, reflecting its powerful nature.

The differences between spam and effective linkbaiting and linkbuilding lie in the content itself. If a piece of content has been produced purely for linkbait purposes with no real relevance or substance then it can expect to fall under the category of spam. However, if the content has relevance and purpose beyond linkbait, then it is more likely to be successful in generating inbound links as well as lying safely in the ‘white-hat’ category, steering well clear of any spam accusations. Below I have listed a few things to consider for effective linkbaiting:

1 – Relevance – make sure you know the brand, product, industry and target market

2 – Research – when writing any content, linkbait or not you can never conduct enough research, an in-depth knowledge around the subject area is paramount

3 – Fresh content, or failing this, ensure your content is better than what’s already been done – people don’t want to see stuff that’s been done before, particularly if it’s not as entertaining

4 – Layout – consider the layout of your linkbait with relevance to the platform, product, target market and industry

5 – Imagery and videos – visuals stimulate the brain so back up your content with entertaining, relevant visuals wherever possible

Linkbait is not alone with the controversial opinions that are inflicted upon it. A number of other online marketing techniques are viewed in this way due to black-hat webmasters using the practice unethically. Linkbaiting can prove a powerful element of your search engine marketing strategy if used ethically and appropriately.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO and content are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user interaction and PR, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels. Where could a 4Ps content marketing strategy take your brand?