Link Bait Sucks – People Are Not Fish


Are you trying to hook people to make them link to your site? You suck! OK, link bait sucks predominantly as a term but not completely as a tactic.

There are certain aspects of link bait that really make this technique obnoxious in some cases.

Therefore I will introduce other terms instead of link baiting, that get you links without treating people like fish.

Let me explain first what link bait is. Then I will show what the problem is and the actual alternative approaches. See below!

What is Link Bait?

The definition of link bait is, when you don’t like it:

“manipulating people to link to you against their will”.

In case you like the concept you probably will explain it along the line

“creating killer content so people link to you”.

Of course it depends! The truth lies in-between. It’s more or less 50/50.

Respect the People

When you create killer content link bait people will link to you. In case you or someone else refers to it as link bait you might expect a backlash though.

People do not like being treated as fish you want to eat for lunch.

Respect your audience and create killer content! In order not to fool people to link to you you have to change your mindset.

Do not solely aim for the links. Try to make people happy as well. Be helpful when you want to get links!

Better Ways to Get Links

Drop the bait concept altogether ideally and replace it with some of the following:

  • attracting links
  • linkable assets
  • link magnets

The last two might sound strange at first at first and they are very similar nevertheless there are shades of grey that differentiate those three terms.

Attracting links is easily explained: It’s anything you do right away and directly to earn or get links, for instance

  • “win an iPhone
  • “the first 5 bloggers who mention this will get a free ebook
  • “the ultimate guide to xyz”

Linkable assets sounds very frivolous and but it’s not about “asses”, don’t forget the “t”, it’s assets!

  • breakings news
  • unique surveys
  • actionable tutorials

Linkable assets are valuable by themselves. You won’t get them everywhere an thus their sources get links.

A link magnet is the next logical step, something that is so controversial, spectacular or innovative that people are magnetically drawn to it.

It can be a huge linkable asset, an egobait hailing a list of people as experts or one-of-kind study with extremely insightful data.

As you might suspect it’s not easy to create such a link magnet but in the past I succeeded a few times. Some posts of mine magnetically attracted links. Why?

It’s because they voiced radically new opinions, debunked common myths or were contrary to popular belief. Do not mistake link magnets with flaming or pure provocation though.

Moreover, it’s not provocation for provocations or the links sake. It’s about being yourself and provoking your unique take on things.

Nowadays Brian Dean of Backlinko is a master when it comes to link magnets. That’s why I link him all the time.

Link Magnets Are for Insiders

Link magnets means always at least 50% agreeing with the status quo and changing it from within. I agree that link bait is a working SEO tactic to get links.

I agree that link bait works in many if not most cases. I want to optimize the concept of link bait and elaborate on it with other more specific or even better terms.

You might argue that out of my many link magnets few have worked out.

Personally I was just exercising and filling my empty new blog. I wanted to get noticed. The three terms and concepts have one thing in common:

you do not manipulate anybody and you do not treat humans like fish. You can make people link to you without tricking them!

You’re Not Fooling Anybody

Attracting links is so straightforward that people of course notice what you are up to and they decide consciously whether they support you or not.

With linkable assets you meet people’s demand for things they really want. Thus they are thankful that they get them.

Link magnets are all about being yourself and not just following the leaders.

Nobody likes people that just parrot the elite without adding any new thoughts or value. By being yourself with everything that annoys you, you will reach people.

Many of them will dislike you for not agreeing with them and their idols. Many other people will like and support you realizing that you are yourself and thus authentic.

Making People Link Ethically

Now you might argue: this article just rephrases what link bait is about anyway replacing the term with three new ones.

No, that’s not really true. I’m not just nitpicking. My post also does not fool anybody into linking to me.

  • Either the people receive a present (attracting links)
  • or I fulfill their needs (linkable assets)
  • or I just say what I want to say without flattering people just for the sake of being friends with everybody (link magnets).

At the end of the day the main difference may be the ethics, link bait is a gray area while attracting links, linable asstes and link magnets are about respect for the users.

* (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons image by Damian Gadal