This guest post is by Jacob of BlogRevolter.com.
One of the most basic things that we can do to understand how Google functions is to understand how they determine which pages are considered strong and which are not. At the very core of its algorithm is the reliance on linksóthe connection from one website to the other.
In Google’s eyes, if website A is linking to website B, that must mean that website A trusts website B. That trusts passes what is known as authority. The more authority that a website and a page have, the more power that it is going to have in the SERPs. And, the stronger the link is from website A to website B, the more authority you’re going to get.
It’s because of this that those “Get 5,000 links in directory submission” offers that are seen on webmaster forums are pretty useless. Google looks at these links and determines that, in reality, very few of them have authority. However, getting a link from a blog that is updated often and has grown its authority will, without a doubt, help you greatly in developing your own authority.
The only problem with getting links is that it is dry. You could always email people for the links, but the success rate for that is low. I used to have to do that at a job. We’d email websites and nearly beg for links… It didn’t work.
All SEOs that are worth their salt will tell you that the best links are those that come naturally. This makes sense because Google is looking to see if you’re willingly passing that authority to someone else. So, if you get a link naturally, that must be great.
The best way to get a natural link is through what is known as link bait. In other words, you’re baiting people into giving you links. Most people will automatically go to ìList postsî as the best type of link bait, but I want to present you with a series of other methods of link bait that are equal to, if not better, than list posts.
Types of link bait
As I mentioned above, there are numerous different types of link bait that are really quite effective at giving your site the links it needs to rise in the search rankings. And as I said above, the common one is the list post, so, I felt it might be prudent to get that one out of the way so we could focus on the good stuff.
People love numbers. A list article is something like “Top 10 Ways in Which Lindsey Lohan Snorts…” and just leave it blank. People will link to that article like it’s the last thing they can do. Why? Because it’s funny. It’s got numbers. People want to see the top ten ways someone can do something like that.
Darren writes these often. 5 Ways I’m Using LinkedIn and 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Worry About the Competition are two examples of list posts that naturally get linked to. They provide value in list form rather than just long, bulky paragraphs. So, it’s easy to understand and therefore, easy to link to.
Okay. Now that weíre done with this one, let’s move on to some lesser known methods.
An infographic is a graphic that contains a slew of information. For example, SearchEngineLand.com released a Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors. This infographic is a period table of elements, except instead of having C, O and H, it has Cq, Ht, and V—content quality, title tags, and keyword stuffing, which is a violation.
What the infographic does is take all of this information that you might write and put it into a nice, simple graphic that looks really nice. And it’s because it looks so nice that people begin to write about it and mention it on their sites. Naturally, when someone mentions something, they usually link back to you.
Another great thing about infographics is people print them out. I’ve got the above-mentioned infographic on my wall. Every time I look at it, I see that it was “Written by SearchEngineLand.com” and that makes me want to go back and check the site out. It’s a great way to start getting people to come back even after you’ve gotten that link.
What’s better than hearing controversy such as “Kim Kardashian Might Have Butt Implants?” You hear something controversial like that and you just want to read it. Why not? It’s Kim K. She’s like so cool.
But, all of that aside, controversy gets linked to. The reason is because so many people disagree with it that they have to write a blog post about how wrong that person is and, naturally, they link back to it so their readers can see how wrong that person is.
My favorite example of all of these is the link bait that says “SEO is garbage.” The funniest part is that it’s link bait. That person is baiting you so much, trying to convince you to link to them by saying something outlandish. And it works. People write about how wrong that person is, and they link to them.
It’s so wrong, actually, that they are using SEO to back up their claim that SEO is garbage!
Spin the news
When something is trending in the news, people tend to link to it more because itís very fashionable. Unfortunately, unless you’re in the political or entertainment niche, most news is specific to niches and it’s hard to get any sort of movement. There’s a way around that.
Let’s talk about American debt for a second. You’ve got a situation where the American government almost defaulted—whether that’s true or not can be saved for another article—and that would’ve meant borrowing money would have been more difficult.
How could a blogger like Darren or myself ever cover something like that and get some of the juicy “debt news” traffic?
Well, the best way to do it might be like this: because it will be more expensive to borrow money, short-term funds that would normally be allocated to advertising are now going to have to go to paying employees because companies can’t afford to get short term loans.
Because of a drop in advertising, bloggers are now finding that they are making less money on their websites, which demonstrates the spread of the economic woes to the Internet. In other words, we can’t default because if we default, bloggers will hurt too. There—you’ve put a spin on the news.
This is probably the sleaziest way of getting links, but it still works. Create what is known as an “expert post.” This is a post where you suck up to every big blog in the niche.
If I was making this type of post, I’d probably link to Darren and Glen from Viper Chill and the nameless dude from Blog Tyrant, because they’re experts. The hope then would be for them to link back to me because I touched their egos.
The only problem with this is that you’re sucking up and almost begging. It’s not really all that creative. However, if you can find the right people, you might get mentioned for it.
The best link bait content really is just well-written content. If you are helping people with your content and providing a service, people are going to link to it.
I know this is sort of avoiding the overall purpose of this post, but it’s true. So many bloggers focus entirely on creating a ton of content rather than creating great content. All of that content won’t get linked to if it isn’t great, so it makes more sense to create great content.
Give people something they want to link to and they will.
Link bait is one of the best ways to get links. People naturally decide to link to you, which, in the eyes of Google, is great. And, more importantly, you’re not wasting time trying to build links in any way considered “black hat.” Google loves natural links and link bait is content that gets natural links.
Have you ever used link bait? What methods have you used to encourage people to link to you? I’d love to hear your opinions below.
Jacob is the owner of BlogRevolter.com where he talks about topics such as building your social empire and WordPress SEO. Be sure to check him out on Twitter and Facebook.
yea yea yea, links are all we bloggers care about. Nicely explained though, the one with the “expert post” is hilarious.
Not at all. Creating great content should be what we bloggers care about. However, it is important, if you’re looking to get some search traffic, to have links.
People underestimate the importance of building links, especially here on Problogger.
It’s funny how you mention BlackHat tactics, because at least those people know tend to know that links do indeed matter.
Sorry folks, but nobody is going to come and read your great content if you aren’t ranking in search engines for at least a few phrases, it’s what gets the ball rolling.
That’s not entirely true, Gregory. I could just as easily write a great piece of link bait and then e-mail people about it. Or, better yet, you could create a great piece of link bait and then write a guest post on a bigger blog. And that traffic will get you the necessary rush to get things flowing. Even a brand new blog that isn’t ranking at all could still benefit greatly from the link bait.
I’m a link-builder, or was, trained by freelance clients galore at Elance a couple of years ago. I’m no longer a freelancer, but it’s a hard habit to break to tell you the truth.
What you’re writing about here, Jacob, is true (for the most part) – and it’s such a foreign concept to the link-building mentality that you’re going to run into resistant pockets like Gregory…
But he’s right, too. If you build links – even if they’re cheap – it works like mad to get you ranking. It’s an unfortunate design of Google that they’re hoping to fight against, since gaming rankings isn’t something they approve of (clearly).
Anyhow, I said you’re ‘mostly’ right. You mentioned directory links. Sadly, again – they work. Are they going to be ‘great’ links? No – but the way the algorithm stands today, plenty of links equates to plenty of rankings.
Your link bait strategy is more up their alley at Google, and it works – but link-builders don’t want to do the hard lifting because mashing out links is so easy to do.
I just wrote a book on the issue of SEO, and largely because I’m shocked at how WELL this sort of thing works (link bait, I mean).
At the end of the day, the question is really what sort of brand are you building? Or are you trying to build one to begin with? Link spam doesn’t build much of a brand.
Jacob – I agree with you, Content is King. I created a new poll and a forum for New Bloggers. If you are interested to provide some expert advise on How To Blog, take a look at – http://www.dailymorningcoffee.com/calling-new-bloggers/.
I’m sure it’s hilarious, but there is evidence it works.
I made an export posting myself, without realising it. They’re all websites I actually use that got me motivated and started in blogging/internet marketing.
@ Jacob, great content is king, and will always be. Giving value, that’s the name of the game.
Nice Article Tacob. Thanks for sharing – Manickam
Thanks a lot, Manickam. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have you ever used link bait to get links to your site?
True Jacob. As you have pointed at last section, CONTENT is the king. How much you write doesn’t make sense rather how you make use of it for others is the trump card. I tried in my previous post as Top 10 suggestions for effective blog post – http://www.mediacrayon.com/blogging
Way to go. Thanks Jacob. – Manickam
I couldn’t agree more. We rely on linkbait quite a bit and it works wonders.
It’s one of my favorite ways. If you can get a good piece of link bait going, you’re golden.
Building back links is definitely the most important part of gaining traffic to your site and getting recognized by the search engines. If you don’t have high PR pages linking back to your site with do follow links, you’ll have a tough time in this blogging business.
There are so many different ways to build back links and many of them border on unethical. But, if you don’t break the rules a bit by getting into the gray area, it’s a long slow road to success in this business.
I think a lot of people are really breaking the rules out there and they will never admit it.
I will share one cool secret about building back links from high ranking do follow pages that’s helped tremendously. I look for high ranking pages on forums that allow do follow text links and I get a post on those pages. The higher the PR the better.
It’s not just about building back links. It’s about building many different keyword back links that are relevant to your blog. You can work on getting one keyword back link and only get rated for that keyword phrase. To compete, you need to go after 20 to 30 great keyword phrases and build a steady stream of back links with all of those keyword phrases.
If you’re relying on getting back links from other people, you might not get the keyword phrases in those back links that will help you any. The keyword phrases are always better than just a URL back link.
The other problem is that you need to have traffic in the first place before you can get people to link to your pages. It’s a tough game to play.
Totally agree with you here. To get back links you first have to prove that your blog is worth linking to. Unless you have supporters ready, it’s tough to get a great PR from links.
Your forum method sounds like a winner here. Thanks for sharing. Nothing good comes easy.
I like spin the news. If you can spin the news into your blog the traffic will follow.
Exactly. It’s especially useful if you’re a part of Google news. More people will automatically find you because they’re searching for the latest news and then they’re more likely to link to you. But, even without being a part of G news, you’ll still probably get a bunch of links within your niche.
Nice piece Jacob, and glad you ended on the “great content”- that should be the ultimate goal. When I was helping managed a telecom blog, we’d often go out and find the “top five blogs of the month” and highlight them, linking to them. On ave 3 of the 5 would mention of link back to us. But in the end it’s about creating compelling content. thanks for pulling this together.
People love to have their egos stroked. If you’re going in and writing a post that says, “By the way person, you rock,” they are more likely to link back to you. If nothing else, they come and check out your site and that creates the opportunity for them to see your great content to link back to.
The idea about the List articles is both obvious and an eye opener. But it’s absolutely true, the topics that have “10 Best…”, “Top 5” etc. phrases in them always seem to have the edge over more traditional titles. Thanks a lot for the tips!
List articles and top ten articles are easy for readers to understand. They don’t have to read long paragraphs. So, naturally, they like it more. When someone likes something, they’re more likely going to share it.
So I do a expert post and mention you Jacob, will you link to me? ;)
We’ll just have to wait and see. If I find value in your site, you might just get that link after all. Thanks for the comment! ;)
‘an’ expert post – wish we could edit our posts to get rid of the peskly typos
Great SEO post I’ve read till now. Link baiting looks like the favorite to Google.
I have a question here “if website A is linking to website B, that must mean that website A trusts website B. That trusts passes what is known as authority. The more authority that a website and a page have, the more power that it is going to have in the SERPs. And, the stronger the link is from website A to website B, the more authority you’re going to get.”
How can website A highlight that it has more authority than B?
Website A highlights that it has more authority than B by having more links/quality links that are pointing to it. It works like this…
Website A is linked to from one hundred really high ranking websites. That means that website A has, say, 100 points of link juice. By linking to site B, some of that link juice flows to site B. So, Site 1-100 link to site A and all of that link juice flows to A. And then the strength and authority from A flows to B via a link.
Link baiting is a great idea! Thanks for the tips. I’m go link fishing soon :D
I hope you catch a really big one, Ling.
Great post Jacob.
Getting natural back-links appears hard, but it is definitely worth the effort. I have played down on this in a while now. Thanks for refreshing my memory.
The thing about natural backlinks is that it’s natural. People want to link to great content. People don’t want to link to garbage. If you’re providing great content, that’s naturally link bait.
Managing linkbait campaigns is my job and we focus on writing topical/trending content that is of excellent quality and is funny and interesting. We are definitely known for producing quality stuff which is key. Natural listings all the way I say but it is hard work!
Spinning the news and the list posts are common use for me, but it’s good to have some diversity, I really want to have an infographic done, but like you mentioned, I want mine to stand out and be useful to people can print it, stay tuned ;)
Thanks Jacob for the thoughts.
It’s not a bad idea to have multiple methods of link bait going on at one time. Spin the news and release an infographic. Say SEO is bullshit and write about how the earthquake was so crazy on the east coast. Do whatever you want to create link bait. Thanks for your comment. :)
There’s an important step missing in the last one. You have to get it out in front of the right people. An average rage inducer post–like comparing Steve Jobs to Hitler–will get links and shares easily, but good content needs to land in front of someone who is willing to share it.
That’s harder to do if you don’t have much traffic. The closest I’ve come is ending up next to a story on Mediagzer (which is edited by people): http://mediagazer.com/110814/p3#a110814p3
And while the real and high authority link is nice, it didn’t send much traffic.
I have read up on loads of posts about Link Baiting!
You seem to give the best concise information, but yet I have tried to follow your advise and yet no one ever links to my articles etc.
But here’s the dilemma. How do you get the sites that you want to link to you to notice that you wrote an article? To give you an example, I have a new blog in a fairly small niche and I don’t really have any traffic at this point…unless you count my wife and my Mom. If nobody reads your posts, it really doesn’t matter how catchy the title is or how many times you mention them.
I’m working on the social media side and producing the best content that I can (although there is room for improvement and I’m still learning), but no real results. Any ideas?
Why not e-mail them? It’s one thing if you’re e-mailing people going, “Please please please please please link to me.” That’s annoying, boring and no one will pay attention. But, let’s say you e-mail them saying, “Hey, just had this great infographic released and I really think you might find it interesting…It’s about blah blah blah,” then they might check it out. Once you’ve piqued their interest, the rest is up to the quality of the infographic to determine if they link to it. Even with link bait, you’ve got to do a bit of marketing.
Such a good article, I was like getting enlightened as I kept reading this. I blog about Mental Health and Lifestyle and I use question marks in my post titles to spark a controversy, it does work sometimes. Thanks so much Jacob for this great article, will implement the techniques from now on! Great Work Again!
Similar to David Harrington, I’ve been blogging for about a year now and need some clarification on “linking to” another site. What exactly do you mean? My site is on Blogger so I don’t have the same tools as a WordPress site. Does it mean creating a link in a story with a link to another site or is there some other location on the post where you do it? I was so excited to find that my site jumped from a rock bottom zero on Google’s scale to a 1 of 10! Nearly had a party. Want to go higher!
“Linking to” another site simply means that you put a link in a post. So, if you wrote a post about the top five decluttering blogs, you would link to each one in the actual post.
As for going from 0 to 1 in PR. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s not really all that useful. Instead, look at how you’re ranking in the search engines for specific keywords. That’s a better way of gauging how well you’re doing.
i.e…what page of Google I show up on?
Yeah, for that specific keyword. For example, I am trying to rank for the keyword “WordPress SEO.” Right now, I am on page 4 for the keyword. However, over time, I am going to rise. Even if that page was a PR4, if I was not ranking high for it in the SERPs, it’d be totally useless.
Umm…what is ìList postsî? Thanks!
I used link bait with the Casey Anthony circus side show. I titled it “The Casey Anthony Trial: How did the Media Get it So Wrong? Experiment?”
And what were your results, Jay?
It seems that we all know this stuff, especially bloggers who have been at it for awhile, but we don’t always remember to do it. I know it takes a concious effort to think about a blog post, decide to make it link bait and then, using one of your examples, try to be controversial or “great content” I say that because I believe to be accepted your controversial post needs to have a ring of truth to it, and to be great content, well, sometimes that is decided by the readers, not the blogger.
One final point, you can be controversial, you can write great content, but you need people to find you and read it, otherwise it really doesn’t matter how great or how controversial you are.
PS I enjoy Problogger and consider it to be one of the most helpful blogs for bloggers. Keep up the good work.
I agree with most of your methods for building link baits in this post Jacob. It is so true about the list of articles and numbers. I am quite fond of lists myself. Thanks for the great post.
Jacob, thank you. I like the infographics idea, but sometimes to make a good diagram or graph requires more effort than writing a good text.