The unseen problem with Mr. Wright’s quote above is that those who actually know how to fish and those standing there on the shore like idiots both believe they are doing the exact same thing… fishing. However, they are not fishing in the same way. The success of an actual experienced fisherman will undoubtedly be much higher than the mere novice. Seasoned anglers know the best spots where to cast, they know the best time of day to fish, but most importantly, they know the perfect lures and bait to use that will entice fish to bite.
This is the exact same problem for people that perform SEO. Yeah, we are all trying to fish; we are all casting our lines of link bait hoping to catch something worthwhile. But just as fishermen should be concerned, marketers need to focus on not just casting any line with any bait into any old water. You need to cast into the right spot, at the right time, with the right bait. Otherwise you’ll soon find that you don’t get many bites, and those you do, are nothing more than cruddy bottom feeders making all your efforts and patience hardly worth it.
So what can novice marketers do to increase their chances of creating great link bait? Thankfully, there is a lot. A person who has never fished before won’t likely buy a pole and just go try it out. They’ll likely research the best areas, the types of fish that exist there, best times of the season, they’ll learn how to attach weights, bobbers, lures, and bait well before they first attempt to cast off. They may even take fishing classes or speak to friends and family members that do it as well. In essence, they will attempt to fully understand the undertaking they are about to perform. How else can success be expected? You will rarely hit the bulls-eye when shooting in the dark, and that is the most important aspect of successful marketing. So with that said, let’s go over exactly what link bait is, what it shouldn’t be, and why it’s worth so much effort to do right.
Forms of Link Bait
There are two forms of link bait, one is some form of content on-site that you hope will attract viewers to link to and share or perhaps engage with. The other is some form of content that you hope to post to another website in order to receive a link in return for (typically this can be found in the form of Guest Blogs).
Beyond these forms of link bait, there are many more types of link bait to be aware of which can be used for both on and off-site use. These include, but are not limited to: Infographics, pictures, videos, audio clips, contests, lotteries, and regular blog entries. Evergreen content is one of the most sought after types of link bait; this is content that over time doesn’t necessarily become wrong or outdated. Because of that, Evergreen content has the greatest longevity and value over any other form. Mainly because in the end, it doesn’t go “stale” even though it may need slight updates over time. Generally Evergreen content is usually educational or informational.
This is different in comparison to topical content which obviously won’t garner much attention once the event has passed. Humorous content which can often initially attract a great number of viewers, but as a “fad” can eventually die off. Personal/business news/updates which only a select few people might actually care about or be interested in are the same. Now this is certainly not to say that these types of link bait aren’t worthy, but simply you have to have a plan a purpose for what you create. If rather than creating a single humorous, topical, or newsy piece, perhaps creating a reoccurring segment may continue to garner viewers. Now the remaining difference here between these types and Evergreen content is that you have to continually create these other forms, where Evergreen content is more of a set it and forget it type. Both have their benefits and negative aspects, and it’s up to you to design your overall marketing plan.
As a rule of thumb, any information that is valuable, for instance certain industry insights or knowledge you may have, should always be added on-site. After all, you don’t want to give your best information away to another site. Be greedy when you need to be and keep the best or funniest pieces for yourself. You’ll quickly become upset and kick yourself if an awesome piece you’ve created goes viral, and all that traffic is sent to another website.
For reference a few other valuable types of proper Link Bait include:
Tools: People love tools, so if you are able to create something that helps them in their daily lives, that can generally go a long way.
Creative Assets: People, beyond having their lives made easier, love beauty. Anything that can be made which is also visually appealing has it’s own set value. If there were two vehicles, both entirely the same except one looks like Aston Martin while the other a Ford Focus? Remember, both vehicles are the same but they merely look different. Both go the same speed, same gas mileage, same amount of space in trunk and cabin. Most will choose the Aston Martin because well… it just looks so slick.
Data Sharing: Business people, analysts, marketers, and nowadays even consumers themselves love data. The more you have, the more meaningful that data is, the better. People are also happy you are willing to share that data which helps to give your brand a few extra kudos as well. Information used to be the most prized possession on the planet, but now with it being so widely available, the only way to gain additional value from it, besides using the data yourself, is to give it to others. Its more appreciated than you may well assume.
Forms of Bad Link Bait
There can be any number of terrible forms of link bait, but the main thing to keep in mind is that if you create something, you have to question whether there are people out there that might actually enjoy it or find it useful. In essence, bad link bait is content that attracts viewers and links without actually adding any additional value. The worst forms of all are pieces that scrape existing content, downright copy others, or reword something what already exists. Lesser forms of bad link bait can be creating things you have no speciality or authority in. For instance, if you own a pet store and create an infographic on the Top Ten Teflon Cooking Wear Items of 2014. Why would that be on a pet store website? It shouldn’t… be sure to write about what you want to be viewed as an authority in. Stick to that and leave Martha Stewart’s blog to write about Sauce Pans.
More than anything, and this needs to be drilled in, you want to create content that is practical, useful, emotional, engaging, and humorous all the while keeping it in line with your business or points of interest the website focuses on. You want your website to be specialized… not hogwash of random pieces with no central focus. Certain websites are able to be successful with this, but generally, they are strictly entertaining websites. And even then, most of them have some central theme they keep in mind.
Why Using the Right Link Bait is Important
There are a number of reasons why you should use proper link bait, but the most important three are: Time, Money, and Customer Perception. Good content takes a lot of time to create, so there is no reason to do anything that wastes it. Beyond wasting time, you are also losing out on the time that would have been positively spent had you done it correctly to start with. Then, there is also the time that has to go into correcting or redoing something worthwhile. Overall, as far as SEO goes and even life in general, use the carpenters rule: Measure twice and cut once. This means that before you start creating something, double check that what you are making is going to be useful or profitable. Otherwise your wasting time, energy, and as a result, money.
Finally you should well worry about Customer Perception of your business or website. After all, it doesn’t matter how you view it, you’re not the one using it. This is where the idea of “the customer is always right” comes into play. Of course they are not all knowing, but what they do know is if they don’t spend their time or money with you, they can well go somewhere else. People are bombarded with options nowadays, and if you think you’re so good that customers/viewers won’t go anywhere else, just imagine how many large businesses made that same mistake and have subsequently failed, lost much of their market share, or in the least have lost once loyal customers for good. For a slew of examples, check out this Reddit thread.
Hopefully this piece helped to set a few things straight for any novice marketers out there wanting to create link bait for their website. In the end you have to remember that it isn’t all that hard. Simply create quality content, that you have the authority to speak over, don’t copy or steal from other places, and rinse and repeat. There’s really no “special sauce” to it, which in part may frustrate a few people who simply want the easy way out. But just like it is for fishing, if where, when, or what you offer isn’t wanted… then you won’t receive a single bite from any number of bait lures you cast into the water.