Links are the holy grail of any website with aspirations of being ranked in the top 20 results on Google, both in terms of quantity and quality. How you go about getting those links is the area of SEO that sets one site apart from another. Bought, traded or mutual links can only get you so far, eventually you need to take it to the next level and have sites linking to you because you do something so awesome that they want to, with nothing asked in return.

To encourage sites to link to them, savvy site owners create content that is known as ‘link bait’. These are stories, articles, tools, freebies, comment etc that have been created pretty much with the sole aim of other sites linking to them and are so useful, controversial, funny, original or insightful that another website refers back to it and says ‘go here to have a read’. Below are my top 6 examples of link bait (if you know of some other good examples, leave a link below):

1. www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
Their whole site is littered with link bait (although they are an SEO company, so you would expect that), but this piece stands out for me. An in depth and comprehensive analysis of SEO factors from the industry’s leading voices. You could charge for this and people would buy it.

2. www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html
A great example of a site offering a scaled down version of it’s tool for free. Even this version is good enough for most small to medium sized sites.

3. http://www.carling.com/ipint_details.html
I own an iPhone and this was one of the first apps I downloaded. By offering something quirky and original (although the makers of iBeer might question that) with the wow factor, Carling has created a great link bait generator off the back of a branding exercise.

4. www.designerstoolbox.com
A great resource for anyone writing creative briefs or designing for the web, I would argue at least 90% of this site is link worthy because it offers so much useful content for free.

5. www.useit.com
This site breaks quite a few rules. For example, it looks ugly and the content is updated irregularly, however, when it is updated, more often than not it has something new to say about website usability that anyone can apply to their website, and it is free.

6. http://www.123-reg.co.uk/blog/archives/chris-anderson-free-long-tail
I couldn’t resist adding this one , but I honestly believe it is a good example of using an interview with an industry insider/ leading voice to generate interest, traffic and links. It worked for us!

Do you have any other examples of great link bait? Has anything on your website brought you a ton of traffic? Leave a comment to let us know.

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6 Responses

  • John G Smith

    My professional interests are finance and accounting. I have recently written an autobiography about my exciting life as a Management Consultant.

    Naturally I would like people to find out about my book, equally though I`m trying to pass on useful tips and information to others that might be interested in learning more about the profession.

    By updating my Website daily with news and articles about topical things financial (very topical as it happens!!) Google is picking up my content and ranking me highly on many valuable key words and phrases.

    November 17, 2008 at 6:28 pm
  • MillionaireAdventure

    I think the best thing you can do is write good content first and think about ‘link bait’ and SEO second. There is too much on the internet already designed to be read by search engines, it’s about time us humans had something good to read too!

    November 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm
  • John G Smith

    Well said MillionaireAdventure… Users & Google will always find their way to original and quality content…

    I`m not entirely certain that “optimising” to “beat” Google is much of a plan as even if people do visit such a site they don`t hang around.

    A well written and rich content site is automatically SEO optimised by default.

    November 17, 2008 at 11:19 pm
  • Hemorrhoids and more Hemroids

    I tend to disagree. I run very content rich web sites, of which the hemorrhoids one is an example, and although very well received by visitors, it is real hard to get one way or even reciprocal links from other sites.

    Having search bait is probably more important, now that Google has devalued most links that webmasters can conceivably manipulate.

    The question is coming up with good link bait. For example, with hemorrhoids, coming with link bait is not so easy.

    The other side of the coin, if I come up with a good link bait, then everyone learns of it and does the same thing. There are a smorgasboard of websites offering website tools now, free ebooks and so on, competitions. It’s becoming very ho hum.

    November 18, 2008 at 12:50 am
  • Synchronium

    Here’s an idea. Create a link directory for your niche. You can encourage (relevant) reciprocal linking by offering extra features if listed sites do so, while creating a valuable resource worthy of linking to in its own right by anyone else.

    November 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm
  • Paul Mitchell

    Yes, I must agree that well written, relevant and topical content is what sorts out the wheat from the chaff as far as creating link popularity is concerned. When you think about quality and relevancy must be the 2 key factors which Google puts most store by when determining page rank etc.
    If you were running Google and could only place 10 sites on the 1st page for each keyword or phrase how else would you determine which sites occupied those 1st 10 places.I have been article writing for just 2 months now and I am pleasantly surprised at the very positive effect which the links back to my site are having.

    November 29, 2008 at 5:50 pm