Over the past five years, link bait has made the transition from “guerilla tactic” to legitimate SEO strategy. In his article on Search Engine Journal, Neil Patel offers eight tips for generating link bait content that will “break through the clutter in today’s world and help you get the links you want.”
A picture is worth a thousand words, and an infographic that can convey relevant information quickly and easily (such as LinkedIn’s 100 Million Professionals) is worth its weight in virtual gold. It doesn’t matter what the infographic is about, as long as it’s entertaining and visually compelling. “Oatmeal’s 15ish Things Worth Knowing About Coffee… is really just an abbreviated summary of the history of coffee,” Patel writes. “Regardless, it went viral and did its job.”
Another great technique for bringing in the links is to appeal to someone’s ego. For example, the Ad Age Power 150 is a list of influential and widely-read marketing blogs, and odds are that most of them are linking back to Ad Age as a result.
“[A]n egobait gimmick doesn’t have to be limited to a single post,” writes Patel. “On a more global scale, Klout appeals to our ego by showing us how influential we are in social media.”
A compelling interview (whether it’s informative, poignant, or simply funny) is a great way to get links, build traffic, and grow your audience. Andrew Warner of Mixergy has had considerable success interviewing influential business leaders, while Gabby Dunn’s 100 Interviews features fascinating interviews with folks who aren’t necessarily well known (someone who cheated death, a commercial airline pilot, someone over the age of 100).
Patel cites The Anything Project as an example of a successful micro site. The website basically poses the question, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” and then invites users to submit their responses via webcam. The question is provocative, the results are entertaining, and the desire to share an opinion is pretty near universal.
“Building a micro site is hard work,” Patel writes. “Building one that goes viral… even harder. Make sure you spend a lot of time planning with your team before you actually begin investing major dollars.”
It doesn’t have to be great art, as long as the idea is fresh and engaging. As examples of drawings that have gone viral, Patel offers up Organizational Chart of Major Corporations (Bonkers World) and Minimum Viable Personality (Fake Grimlock), citing both as “two great examples of distilling an idea down to its essence.”
Production value isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for a popular video. A recording as simple as someone ranting into a webcam has the potential to go viral if the subject and the speaker are interesting enough. However, a clever video that’s constructed, performed, and produced well stands a better chance of bringing in the links. “[W]hen you put some effort behind a video,” Patel says, “it will have a longer shelf life.”
A clever and compelling quiz can be a great way to draw some links to your site. The Blog Verbosity Test compares the average word count of your blog posts to those of other bloggers, while The Moon Survival Challenge asks you to prioritize a list of items in order of importance, and then compares your answers with NASA’s.
If all else fails, you can always try writing a story to attract an audience (and some links). There are a lot of writers online, so competition for your audience’s attention is pretty fierce. And admittedly, crafting a story that’s so compelling that total strangers will want to read it (and recommend it to their friends) is daunting, to say the least. If you’re fortunate enough to already have a group of online followers, then you may find the going slightly easier. An intriguing title may draw them in, but the story itself needs to be well-written (and properly formatted) to keep them reading.