Link baiting is a somewhat archaic term for a link building tactic that’s very much alive and well. The web project paints the bigger picture then drills-down to some ‘tried and tested’ link baiting techniques that are guaranteed to net you some quality links.

Link baiting takes a creative approach to marketing, whereby you develop content specifically to attract links from webmasters and bloggers. Your bait could be something useful, entertaining, insightful, funny or even contentious; but above all it’s got to be tasty.

Fishing for links is as much as a science as it is an art. Rather than casting wildly for any old links; you’re trying to hook relevant links, so you need to choose your bait carefully. You also need to make sure that you are fishing in the right pond.

A well-crafted piece of link bait can attract hundreds of links and thousands of visitors, so all those hours spent on the riverbank perfecting your technique aren’t wasted.

And what do link anglers dream of at night? They dream of a linking frenzy which starts to feed on itself. They dream of their link bait turning viral.

Once you are aware of link bait, you soon begin to recognise it all over the Web. Link bait can come in all shapes and sizes, but the following always insure a good catch:

Six link baiting strategies and techniques that really work

One: Write something newsworthy

As in the world of print media, whoever gets the scoop also gets the readers. Breaking a news story on your website can generate some serious link love. And if you haven’t got any news, get out there and find some.

Arranging an interview with a ‘talking head’ or industry pundit is much easier that you might think. After all, it is what they do for a living. Or how about taking an existing story and digging a little deeper, or tackling it from a different angle?

However, perhaps the most effective way of creating newsworthy link bait is by running an online survey. As a webmaster you should already have access to a targeted database, or failing that an email contact book. There’s plenty of online software that’s easy to use (Survey Monkey is a good starting point) and you’re ideally placed to know what questions ‘industry types’ want answering.

Send the survey to a good-sized sample and ‘bingo’, you’ve got a news headline generating machine… ‘36% of motorists admit to having slept in their car after an argument with a partner’… ‘One in five teenagers regrets having a tattoo after just seven days’… ‘A quarter of pilots surveyed claim to have seen a UFO’…

Two: Write something irresistible

No matter what business you are involved in, you can find an angle that has a wider appeal. Take something as grey as the insurance industry for example: who could resist picking up an article detailing the most unusual things that you’ve been asked to insure?

And if you work in a more colourful consumer market – so much the better: just think of the number of lifestyle pages which are filled every week with ‘Fashion Disasters’‘Culinary Catastrophes’ and ‘Gardening Gems’.

Three: Give something away

Everyone loves a freebie. Go to any conference and you’ll come away with a bag stuffed with brochures, pens and mouse mats (although quite why they still exist nobody knows!). And the lure of the online freebie is no less potent. If you don’t have anything physical to give away: offer an ‘online discount’, provide free advice or give access to information that you have to pay for elsewhere.

Few examples of the power of the online giveaway are more illustrative than when Radiohead announced that fans could download their ‘In Rainbows’ album for free (way back in 2007) or however much they chose to donate. Besides making a small fortune Radiohead made headline news and links poured into their website.

Four: Create something useful

Online tools and resources are a great way of attracting links. Of course you’ll have to spend time and money developing a tool, or making a better version of one that already exists, but it is effort well spent.

The key is to make something that’s genuinely useful.  And while this might sound a bit of a ‘no brainer’ it’s surprising how many big companies slip up.

Take the following real world example of one of the UK’s leading ‘home insurance’ companies: How many links do you expect to attract with a two dimensional ‘game’ whereby your mission is to prevent a burglars from entering a bungalow by clicking the windows and doors closed? How much buzz are you likely to create with something that wouldn’t hold the attention of a three-year-old? And anyhow, isn’t the game’s target audience a little young to be thinking about taking out home insurance?

It’s difficult to think of many ways in which their marketing department would have seen a worse return on their investment. Surely it would have been better to develop some zeitgeisty software which tapped into the nation’s economic situation, such as Brexit Budgeting Tool….or maybe just rehash the nation’s favourite as Angry Underinsured Birds.

Five: Do something offline

Offline publicity stunts and marketing campaigns can make serious waves on the Web.  Can you remember (or more appropriately who can forget) that Cadburys’ advert which consisted of nothing more than a gorilla playing the drums along to the dulcet tones of Phil Collins. It still haunts me to this day, and that’s the point.

A casual observer would be forgiven for thinking the entire campaign had been dreamed-up on the back of a fag packet. The advert was annoying, but not that annoying; and it was weird, but not that weird. In fact, it wasn’t really anything.

However, rather than misfiring the marketing men’s aim had been spot-on. Within a fortnight the advert has 70 dedicated Facebook groups and more than six million YouTube views.

Six: Award, reward and flatter

There’s nothing quite like flattery to generate inbound links. Also known in SEO circles as ‘egobait’, you’ll be surprised by the number of webmasters who are willing to promote your site if you endorse their site.

Think: ‘[X] online finalist’, ‘as seen on [X]’ or ‘recommended by [X]’. Create a smart graphic which points back to your site and wait for the link love flow.

In summary: the only limit to effective link bait is your imagination. Other tried and tested techniques include: making people laugh, sharing your expertise, sponsoring charitable causes or even running regular competitions.

The point is that link baiting works (and should be part of every link building campaign) and why shouldn’t it? After all it’s really just marketing by another name.