Monday, December 17, 2007

How to Linkbait

There are lots of ways to go out and get other people to link to you. You can ask for it, you can promise a return link, and in some cases, you can even buy them.

An even better way of getting the links is by having something on your site that’s worth linking to. Nick Wilson over at refers to these things as “hooks” in a process called “linkbaiting”. The idea is to have something that people want. Then, when other bloggers and site owners see it, they write about it, and link back to it, or, at least, tell other people about it.

It can sometimes be tricky to think of something that is good enough to draw in traffic, and make others want to act on it.

It all starts with that hook. The hook is that idea or that thought that can capture people’s attention. In songwriting, the hook is that part, usually in the chorus, where the song’s title repeats. It’s what makes you say, “I can’t get that *&*#^! song out of my head!” In linkbaiting, you can pull from a number of categories to get your hook-y ideas.

  1. Resource Hook

This is a hook that’s based on some sort of information or resource at your site. Always relevant to your audience, your site’s niche, and your products, of course. Make a big huge list of other websites and blogs that are relevant to your niche. People will find your list of links resourceful. Also, those that are on the list are likely to link back to you.

A really good How-To article can be a great draw. Make sure that it’s clearly written and has some good tips and insights. Others will link to you. A few weeks ago, I needed to learn how to make sourdough bread. When I found a page that described it in clear and simple detail, I bookmarked it. When I blogged about my own experience making the bread, I referenced the original article.

Make it be more than just a list of a few tips.

  1. News Hook

If you can find some news in your subject area, and can be one of the first to mention it, that’s a great linkbait hook. That can be tricky, since, of course, most of us get our news from the web. So, if you find it on the web, it’s very likely that you’re not going to be the one to scoop it. Still, if it’s fresh enough, you can still get in the early waves of it.

Also, if you get a few angles on an existing story and synthesize them into a single commentary with a perspective that nobody has explored yet, you can still be early in an existing story. You can also be one of the first to point out an error in someone else’s analysis of a situation that’s developing.

  1. Contrary or Attack Hooks

These can be problematic. This is where you write about how wrong or bad someone or something else is. On the one hand, if this is well-written and well-presented, it can draw links like a bad burger draws flies. On the other hand, it can also get other people pretty upset at you pretty quickly. People like Howard Stern and other radio personalities have made careers out of this strategy.

  1. Humor Hook

Everybody loves to read something funny. Post a joke. Write a top ten list. Post a funny picture or video clip. “You know you’re a –fill in the blank- when…” All this stuff can work, especially if it’s truly original.

A long time ago, on a forum, someone posted the old “Ten reasons why a beer is better than a wife.” Someone else followed up with “Ten reasons why a cop of coffee is better than a husband.” I sat for a few minutes and made up “Ten reasons why my wife is better than a cup of coffee.” It had items like, “When my heart races, I know it’s not the caffeine!” The board was buzzing about that one for weeks afterward.

There are lots of possible hooks, and lots of possible reasons why people might link back to you. You just never know when someone will find you interesting. You can do some things to make it more likely to happen, though.

Also, always remember that when you write your link bait, make sure that you also make it bait the search engines by using strong and relevant search words. After all, if they can’t find it in the first place, they sure won’t link to it!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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