A successful linkbait is one of the fastest and most inexpensive ways to build thousands of good quality backlinks pointing to your site. But here is the best part: it is the way Google wants you to build links.
Let us start by describing the concept of linkbait for those who are not familiar with it. Linkbait referes to the art of creating content with the main purpose of attracting links to your site.
Nothing new, you may be thinking. Linkbait is basically good content, right?
Well in a way it is, but there is more to it than that. Let me start by telling you why linkbait is so popular nowdays among Search Engine Optimizers (also known as SEOs.)
A few years ago when SEO professionals wanted to promote a website in the search engines that would do what was working at the moment: reciprocal link exchanges. An SEO would set up a website, put some content on it, and start sending emails to webmasters offering a reciprocal link exchange. If the webmaster accepted both sites would display a link back to the other site.
This used to work well until Google and the rest of the search engines realized that the technique was getting abused and reciprocal links were not any an indication of one site's popularity.
At this time most SEO practitioners agreed that the best way to achieve Search Engine Rankings was to get one way links pointing to their sites. A one way link was worth a lot more than reciprocal link exchanges. This is when the link buying market boomed, using the Page Rank metric as the main market arbitrager.
So basically all an SEO did was open her wallet and buy as many links as she needed to rank for certain keywords. This worked well for a while but of course it did not take Google long to figure out that these type of links were not an accurate indication of a website's popularity.
So Google is now penalizing sites that buy and sell links. Many SEOs and webmasters are complaining about this because they are left without ideas. They think this is unfair.
I personally think that Google has every right to decide what is the best way to decide what a site popularity is. I also agree on the fact that paid links are not an indication of site popularity. So instead of complaining about what does not work anymore, why do not we talk about what does work?
What works now is Linkbait., So how do you create a linkbait?
1. Visit Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Propeller and other popular social media sites and research for stories related to your niche that have become popular in the past.
2. Analyze all these stories and use them as the basis of your brainstorming. You want to understand why these stories were popular among these communities.
3. Write your article. Some article formats have better chances of becoming popular in social media sites. For example, Top Ten Listings and How To Articles have proven to work in many different contexts. Often images are also very popular in these sites. You could write something useful, something polemic, something funny, something weird. It does not matter which angle you pick your article needs to have a special something that will appeal to the audience you are writing to. This is why you need to go through step 1 and 2 very carefully: to know what the audience is looking for, and deliver exactly that.
4. Write a magnetic headline. You can have the best article in the world but no one will even look at it if you do not grab their attention. Social media users have a very short attention span and you are lucky if they give you half a second while scanning through your heading. Some examples of magnetic titles would be: "The Secret Of [your topic]", or "How To Build [something related to your niche] In 10 Easy Steps".
5. Write a magnetic description. If you wrote your headline well enough your users might spare you a few more seconds and read at the description of the article. This can be a sentence or two but you need to write it intelligently. It needs to provoke an action. Ultimately you want the user to vote for your story and also click through and read the full article.
6. Network. Ask a friend to submit the article for you in these sites. Ask your friends to vote for it. All submissions need an initial kickstart in these social media sites to become visible enough so that the rest of the users can decide whether to vote for it or not. Alternately you can take the time to become very involved in these communities and become a power user. Power user submissions tend to perform a lot better in these network sites than submissions made by unknown users.
That is the backbone of a successful linkbait launch. If your story becomes popular on Digg, it can send up to 100,000 visits to your site in the period of a few hours, so make sure your site and your server are optimized to handle this kind of spiky traffic.
Keep in mind, this traffic usually does not click on ads. In fact, they do not like ads. So make sure your pages are not stuffed with advertising or it will not become popular at all in social media sites.
This also means that you will not make much money from all this traffic. The real benefit of this is the visibility and exposure that your site acquires when it becomes popular in one of these social media communities. Many users bookmark your site and this means you will end up getting links from many webmasters out there who are now familiar with your site.
A successful linkbait launch can get thousands of good quality editorial links that would have cost thousands of dollars to obtain in the link buying market.
Furthermore, Google is absolutely happy with the way you acquired them and it will not result in ranking penalies.