Written by Anastasia Kurmakaeva
Table of contents
Link baiting is the creation of quality content, with the purpose of getting third-party websites to link it of their own accord, because they find it interesting, they like it and they want to do it, and not because you asked them to or because you requested a link in exchange for a sum of money. It’s the most natural and effective way of link building, as it will be the most advantageous technique, providing valuable results in the long term.It's the most natural and effective way of #LinkBuilding, as it will be the most advantageous technique, providing valuable results in the long term.Click To Tweet
It can be any type of content, as long as it’s original, contributes value, and it’s interesting to the audience it is aimed at: video tutorials, eBooks, infographics, blog articles, guides… It can take many shapes and formats, which will be more or less appropriate depending on the business and the industry it belongs to.
Creating exceptionally valuable content that people will want to link and promote on a large scale is not easy. There isn’t a ‘formula’ or specific steps you can take to get there. You can dedicate an infinite amount of time to the creation of something, and then just see it go by completely unnoticed and ignored. Meanwhile, your competitor will post the simplest of ideas, in which they seemingly didn’t invest any effort or time whatsoever, all while getting tons of compliments in the shape of backlinks in return. This is extremely frustrating to behold, and we know it, we’ve all been there. So you need to ask yourself: what went wrong?
In this post we are going to try and list the types of content that have proved to be the most successful in terms of link baiting, so that you can at least get an idea of the direction you need to take for your own strategy.
Types of content based on their lifespan
Before we get into it, you need to learn to distinguish between two content categories that can bring you links, and those are:
- Breaking news, or latest news. The relevance of this type of content is time-limited, pretty much for as long as an event or recent development is considered news. Once the “boom” is over, users lose their interest, and consequently, we stop receiving new links. Therefore, in cases like these time is an essential factor, and it’s crucial that we publish and share our content all over the Internet before the event becomes irrelevant for our audience. A clear example of this type of content is the launch of new electronic devices, namely smartphones. Prior to their official presentation or arrival on the market, we’ll always find a vast amount of posts, comparisons, analyses, videos, leaks, etc. Then, once they’re launched, we’ll see the first reviews, comments, unboxing videos, criticism, first impressions… After a few weeks, all this buzz will start to die down, and the device that previously caused all this fuss will stop being news altogether, giving up the podium to the next generation of mobile devices.
- Evergreen content. It’s the type of content that doesn’t expire, and neither it has a set expiration date. Evidently, depending on the field, some information or resources can get obsolete relatively fast, but here we are talking about content that never loses its value or gets out of fashion, and as such, never stops producing links for our website. To name a simple example of evergreen content: a basic dog training guide. How many people out there have or think about having a dog? Tons. How many of these people have any idea on how to train the dog? Not so many. But we all want to have a trained, well-behaved and obedient pet, in any situation we might encounter. Perhaps in a few years’ time we’ll discover new and better methods for training dogs, but the basics will most likely remain the same. And in any case, we can always update our content if we consider it necessary and we have something new to add.
There are some specific types of content, which can usually bring us some very good results. Obviously, we have to really know our industry, in order to establish what type of content and topics will prove to be more successful, which is why we are going to give as much variety of examples as possible.
In that sense, tests, quizzes, polls, games, etc. win. If they are well-made and are minimally original, they usually generate lots of links, because Internet users love to take part in this type of things, and we’re all suckers for the occasional light entertainment. If, on top of it, the user gets some sort of feedback –a result or otherwise– after making a test or playing a game, all the better. Here we can use Buzzfeed quizzes as the key example, which at some point were all the fuss. Users absolutely loved being told which character from the A Song of Ice and Fire saga they were, or in which country they should’ve really been born. All of it was based on some seemingly unrelated questions with the subject at hand.
Polls and surveys prior to some important events at a national or international level, for example, are also an interesting theme to explore. General election, referendums, strikes, demonstrations and protests… We are social beings, we love to be part of something bigger and voice our opinion publicly. Polls are an interesting way to do this, and to some degree, it’s like giving a voice to our audience and allow them to be heard.
In this category we can put an extremely high variety of resources.
- Widgets, which can be integrated on a website. For example, imagine you have a media outlet, and you’ve created a useful widget for the weather forecast. Besides using it on your own site, you could offer it up for free, so that anyone can use it on their website, too. While in this case it’s recommended to use a nofollow attribute for links like these, as they can generate a huge amount of referrals and get a little bit out of hand, accomplishing the opposite effect of what we were aiming for.
- Programming libraries and features other developers can include in their app or the website they are currently working on, to avoid having to code it from scratch themselves.
- Calculators, if your website is related in any way to economy and finances, and you want for your users to be able to convert international currency values, directly from a feature you’ve installed on your site.
- Plugins, like the well-known WordPress ones, which build on and help to extend the content management system’s default features, so that we can customise our website –when based on this platform– to the max.
- Themes, templates and layouts for websites.
- Any other sort of templates. For example, a job-hunt related site can provide its users with CV templates to create their own, and not have to design it themselves.
There are many reusable resources you can give to your community, and then be rewarded for it with backlinks, especially if what you’re offering is high-quality and in demand.Being familiar with our industry is essential to knowing what type of content and topics will succeed with our audience.Click To Tweet
Educational/informative content and resources
Video tutorials, guides, studies, eBooks, webinars, courses, interviews… There are so many content types we can contribute with and be linked thanks to them…! Albeit you have to keep in mind that there is also a vast amount of resources other people have already shared and contributed to the community, too. For that reason, first we should find out whether our idea has potential by asking ourselves:
- Do people need it or search for it? If the answer is yes, proceed to step 2.
- Has it been done previously by someone else? If the answer is yes, go to step 3. If the answer is no, get to it! Now!
- Are you capable of making a better and more comprehensive version? If the answer is yes, go for it.
Now, imagine you website is dedicated to DIY (Do it yourself) projects. You can create videos and write posts, explaining the making of process for some cool handicraft, with a step-by-step guide. Or, if your business is dedicated to selling and/or repairing musical instruments, you can create content explaining aspects regarding their maintenance (for example, how to change guitar strings), or to teach music theory basic principles, amongst many other possible ideas.
This way, not only you’ll be creating potentially “linkable” content, but you will also promote your shop and your products or services.
It’s commonly said that a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and sometimes it’s a bang-on expression.
In this category we can include images, graphics, infographics, diagrams, sketches, and other visual content, as well as videos (not necessarily educational). Certain fields pretty much require you to generate content in a graphic format. Why? Because some things are hard to explain by written word, without a visual demo supporting the explanation.Some things are hard to explain by written word, without a visual demo supporting the explanation.Click To Tweet
Giveaways, draws and competitions
Highly-effective technique to get backlinks. I mean, who doesn’t like winning free stuff? If you put up popular things for your audience to win, they’ll take care of promoting it themselves. You’ll just have to give it the initial push.
All the more interesting are competitions with a user-generated content (UGC) component, where the winner is chosen based on the votes they receive. This encourages users to share their entry with their friends and family, so that they get voted by as much people as possible, which results in backlinks and shares in social media.
What should we take into consideration in terms of SEO? First, giveaways and competitions should have their own directory on our website.
On the other hand, once the competition is over, there’s that whole issue of: what should I do with this page? and it’s actually a really good question. If we deindex it, we lose the popularity it may have achieved through the links it got throughout the duration of the competition. If we remove it, the user is going to run into a 404 error, or a redirect, and this scenario is far from being the ideal solution. So, the best thing we can do is to let the page “die”, without deindexing it or removing it. Once over, we can update the page with a clear and visible message that the competition has come to and end, both within the main content of the page, as well as the meta description tag, if need be, so that there’s no doubt or confusion. This way, we can preserve the links this page would have generated.
There are also other types of contests to get links, more effective, but also more dangerous. We’ll talk about it some other time.
There are some common characteristics any content aiming to generate link baiting should have, and these are:
- Attractive presentation. Take care of the image you project with your content. Be clear, make it appealing, work on making your writing correct and coherent, provide an original, professional and usable design…
- Appropriate marketing and promotion. You content’s quality won’t matter if you passively wait for it to get shared and spread around on its own, and then suddenly become viral. That’s just not how it works. You have to give it the appropriate promotion, via channels your target audience are present in (social media, forums, blogs, etc.) so that it becomes more visible and reaches more people.
- Use the correct tone. Your style and ways of communicating or doing things also has a bearing on your popularity. While universally speaking, humour can take you far, depending on the industry your business belongs to it can be severely inappropriate. You’ll also have to decide whether your audience type should be spoken to using a more formal or informal register. If you’re too formal with a topic and content that doesn’t call for it, you could be seen as boring. If you’re too informal, you could be transmitting a lack of seriousness. It’s important to find where your line is, and to adapt your tone to your industry’s special characteristics.