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
Isn’t what you’re doing with submitting yourself to social media sites just traffic-bait though?
Good question. The difference is, I do not lure anybody just for the sake of traffic. As you see this blog is made just for fun, not even for the ad money.
OK, if you deem any action to make your blog, website or content known unethical you can close your site down, somebody might read it. Make sure then not to link it anywhere!
If you fulfill the wishes of your (potential) readers your readers will read your site ;-)
It’s a myth that good content will spead by itsself. If nobody knows you you have to make the first step.
Interesting read, thanks. This has given me some ideas on different ways to implement “link bait” then I would normally consider.
i think this post is kind a link bait only
[…] In my opinion, using link-baiting (in most cases) is like giving someone $100 just so he can give you $10 back. […]
This is the third post on your SEO 2.0 blog I’ve read. I’d been clicking around for about an hour here, reading posts and sometimes hundreds of comments. I really liked the recent (Dec 2010) post about the issue of UTM’s in URL’s!
I am not trying to pander or be obsequious, but you should consider a subheading: “Ethical SEO” or “SEO with Compassion”. The nice, no- banner, no-ad style is so soothing. I like your user feedback heading “This thing has X Comments” or trackbacks. No BackType reaction stream from the Twitterati either! I love Twitter, so I’m not knocking it in general.
And you know what? The evidence that “one receives in equal measure what one gives” is apparent in the comments. That’s partly due to your willingness to acknowledge mistakes, and your good etiquette! But I noticed that comments are generally polite, even when critical. You respond to those that aren’t so polite. And surprise surprise! The person replies to your reply in an agreeable or conciliatory way!
A few comments have URL’s, but only about services or resources directly relevant to your post. They’re mostly for free or open source sites/ projects too!
You mention this is a hobby blog only. I DO hope this style of SEO, or whatever you do for a living, yields a good income. You deserve it!
P.S. I had the impression from one of the comments back in 2008 that you are either bi-lingual, or English is not your first language. That makes this site doubly impressive! I have not noticed grammar, spelling nor even usage errors. You posts are very clean, better than most English language blog sites, regardless of whether the author speaks English as a first or secondary language!
May you have much luck and prosperity in 2011!
thank you for the kind and very specific feedback. I moderate my comments quite closely so that only the useful comments stay online but I also try not to quarrel in the comment section.
Also indeed I live off SEO and business blogging.
Last but not least I’m in fact bilingual or rather tri, as I’m a Pole living in Germany but writing in English.