If you’ve been reading up on ways to increase the number of links to your website, you’ve probably stumbled across the term “link bait.” As deceptive as that term sounds, link bait actually refers to any content you create, such as videos, copy, or images, that sparks others to start talking about and linking to this content.
Link bait includes creating YouTube videos, top 10 lists, and “how-to” articles and posting images, comics, inspiring stories, and more. While not easy, the time spent creating content is worthwhile. You can scrutinize the 10 most popular YouTube videos, top voted articles on social bookmarking sites, and trending topics on Twitter, or just read on to learn the secret to successful link bait:
- Make Them Laugh. These days we can all use a laugh. Have an online pet store and some furry friends of your own? Create a YouTube video, with your logo in the corner, of your pets doing their usual adorably cute and ridiculous antics. Post a contest on your blog, call for entries, and video the whole event! Creating humorous videos and top 10 lists are some of the most popular forms of link bait, but imagination is a must.
- Make Them Cry. Did you read that news story on how the family dog somehow dialed 911 and saved the small child? Did you tell your friends and post about it on Twitter or your blog? We’re not recommending you weave a sad, gut-wrenching tale, but those heartwarming stories on how your business raised money and invested time to help a charitable organization, or how you struggled against all odds to make your business a success are stories that you should share. Tell your story simply and honestly, syndicate a press release, blog about it, or post a snippet on your Twitter and Facebook pages.
- Make Them Think. There’s a reason why talk radio is so popular: we want to hear what people have to say, whether it’s right on or ridiculous. Is there a news story that’s relevant to your industry? Post your opinion on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter, and ask others to comment on how they feel about it. Check out possible topics related to your industry on Twitter’s trending topics, in national news stories, and on Google™ Trends to see what people are chatting about. Just remember to keep it real and consistent with the personality of your website.
- Make Them Yearn. As a business owner, you have hopes and dreams, and your customers do too. Give your audience a taste of what they yearn for, whether it’s a road trip across the U.S., cooking scrumptious dishes, or simply making office life a bit easier. If you’re a national hotel chain, for example, post photos of the cities where you’re located and “must-see” lists for each city on your website. Sell gourmet-cooking accessories? Create a YouTube video on how to whip up spectacular dishes. Is your business centered on office supplies? Post daily “how to survive office life” blog posts and tips on Twitter and Facebook. Help your audience experience their dreams and they’ll reward you by sharing it with their friends, family, and co-workers with similar hopes.
- Make Them Understand. Think about the products or services you sell and how they’re used. YouTube videos, blog posts, and top 10 lists are great tools for increasing understanding. Sell wine cellars? Create a video on the top five steps to becoming a wine aficionado. Or maybe you sell fishing nets. Perfect—make a video on the most common fly-fishing errors and how to overcome them, and write a top 10 list on what a fisher(wo)man must have before he or she can brag about the one that got away!
Link bait doesn’t “go viral” by itself. Before posting on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or your website, be sure you’re interacting on social media sites, have regular traffic coming to your blog, and are actively marketing your website and attracting visitors. Don’t see much of an increase in links after your first link bait attempt? Think about what you could do differently next time, and get to it! Stirring up emotion, whether it’s laughter or awe, sparks action, and will help make your link bait a success.