What Is Link Bait?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen
Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Link bait is a term that people often use to describe web content that compels people to link back to it. This can be important, because links from other websites are sometimes a key factor in search engine rankings. Many blogs and other website masters deliberately create content that is designed to inspire people to create links, and they may produce several pieces of this type of content in the hope that a few of them work. Sometimes link bait includes obvious things like web apps, but it can also be something more unconventional, like a joke article, or something highly controversial.

In some ways, link baiting is essentially an attempt at viral marketing. In theory, the content sells itself, and people may spread it around without the webmaster having to do any additional work. Usually, the creator has other content that’s more important to him than the link bait, and he’s mainly just link baiting to attract more people and raise engine rankings. In this sense, creating link bait is kind of an indirect advertising strategy.

One of the most common kinds of link bait is content that’s immensely useful to people, so much so that they feel compelled to share it. For example, a how-to guide can be a kind of link bait, especially if it deals with something that isn’t well-covered by other sites around the web. Also, if someone creates a huge list of useful links related to a particular topic, that can work as link bait because people will sometimes show it to friends who share the same interests. Another example of this approach would be to create some kind of software tool and share it with people.

Some people often create link bait that’s meant to be deliberately controversial. They might even purposely look to get into a scholarly debate on their chosen subject with another major figure on the Internet. Interested bystanders on both sides of the issue can become emotionally involved when their beliefs are questioned and, eventually, a webmaster who gets into this sort of debate may even gain new followers during the process among the people who shared his position.

There are also cases where people take this tactic a little bit further by actually getting into a personal public argument with another person on the Internet. The big advantage with this sort of tactic is that, hopefully, the person will actually mention the attacker on his blog or website, and this leads to notoriety and often several links. Some people would consider this sort of tactic somewhat unethical, while others think it is acceptable as long as the motives are genuine.

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