We’ve already established that linkbait is not a dirty word. But how can you make it work for you? More specifically, how can you create successful linkbait for your blog or website when it seems that everyone on the Web is doing it these days? After all, isn’t the point to stand out?
Yes. Yes it is.
Fortunately linkbait can still be very effective, and it’s still possible to stand out amongst the crowd. It’s all in how you look at it.
The Two Types of Linkbait
Linkbait is often talked about in a negative light because of one type of linkbait — the sensationalist variety. These are articles and blog posts that use very hyped up headlines to get your attention and attract almost automatic links and sharing (because let’s face it, sometimes people really don’t read past the headline). For example you might see a post called “Facebook Now Commands 41% of Social Media Traffic.” The key with these types of posts is that the content rarely backs up the title’s claim (and you can see a more detailed breakdown of that issue in the post linked above).
But hold on. Before you judge linkbait too harshly in general, remember that there’s another type — a more effective type in the long run. That type of linkbait is the good old standby of “quality content.” Let’s focus on that for a bit.
What Makes Quality Content Linkbait Material?
The idea of linkbait is actually much older than the name. There have always been two sides to the content game, both competing for eyes (and usually ad dollars). Think of the differences between a serious newspaper and your favorite gossip rag. “Linkbait” is just the same thing taken to the Web. Can the sensationalist variety work? No doubt. But for most sites, getting a reputation for hyped up headlines that you don’t deliver on means it won’t work for long.
At the same time, simply writing decent content isn’t enough. A lot of people are producing quality content. To make linkbait effective, you have to go beyond that basic “high quality” status.
Here are some things you can do to turn your quality content into successful linkbait, no matter how much competition you have:
- Take a new approach. — Want to write a piece on a hot topic for your blog, but you’re afraid it will just get lost in the mix? Make it stand out by taking a different approach. Find a new twist to the story, or try covering the topic from a different angle or perspective, even if it’s controversial (especially if it’s controversial).
- Make people laugh. — People love to be amused. Take a normally serious topic and find a way to make it funny. If you put a smile on people’s faces, you’ll have a better chance of having them pass it around.
- Back up your claims. — In more serious linkbait posts where humor isn’t really appropriate, make them fact and source-heavy. Don’t just make a serious claim. Link to a lot of other reputable sources to help prove your point. Not only does it make your own piece more authoritative (and therefore more worthy of links), but you might get the attention of people you cited, and they might help spread the word by tweeting about or linking to your post as well.
- Add visual elements. — The Web is full of text-based content, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to cover a topic where that’s all people can find, do something different with your presentation. Create a video. Design an interesting infographic (people love these things — just put your stats or other information into a visual display that helps to make your point).
These are just a few things you can do to make your already high quality content work more effectively as linkbait. Worry less about the competition and the fact that everyone is out there trying to get links. Worry more about finding ways to keep your audience’s interest and in the long run they’ll stand by you, link to you, and share your site with their own networks and audiences.
What’s your favorite type of linkbait? Do you intentionally focus on linkbait creation, or does it happen more organically for you because you’ve always focused on quality and making your site stand out? Share your thoughts in the comments below.