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Link bait is a simple concept. You place something on your site that acts as bait for links. It attracts links. People link to your site not because you want them to, but because they really want to. They want to tell people about whatever bait you place there. You place the bait, then let people know about it and wait for the links to roll in. These are the very best type of links you can have. In fact, when Matt Cutts, Google's liaison with the SEO world, fields questions about linking, link bait is one of the first things he mentions.
So what is link bait? It's simply something so interesting, or useful, or entertaining, or funny, or sexy, or intriguing, or perhaps even disgusting or evil that people will link to it because they just feel the need to tell their friends and colleagues about it. A classic example is, of course, YouTube, which at the end of the day is all about link bait. YouTube contains millions of videos and while it's true that many of them are most certainly not link bait, many are. And consequently, YouTube has more than a billion and a half incoming links.
Another example is Wikipedia, a site that contains around 18 million pages, each one of which could be regarded as link bait to someone. You may not be interested in the Beard Liberation Front, but apparently, hundreds of people are. Of course, we can't all be YouTube or Wikipedia, but that doesn't mean you can't create your own link bait on a more modest scale. So what can you do? Well, an obvious idea is hosting a blog on a subject related to the area you work in. Blogs are very easy to create, good blogs are much harder.
So don't jump into blogging until you are sure you can make it work. You need someone who can write, who wants to write, and who can write articles that people want to read. If you got what it takes, if you can create a really top-notch blog, a blog may provide great link bait. But what is a blog? It's really just a content management system. So whether you create content within a blog or using more traditional web development methods, it's all content at the end of the day. Perhaps you can provide useful tools of some sort.
Many mortgage websites provide mortgage calculators, for instance. Of course, if you have a mortgage company, adding a mortgage calculator today may be a little late in the game. Essentially, you're going to have to brainstorm this. Every business is different, of course, and the resources you have available will vary. Perhaps it's a glossary of some kind or a directory or a series of videos about using your products. Some outdoor stores now host videos on how to use the various types of equipment they sell, for instance.
Whatever your link bait is, the next step of course is to tell people about it. Obviously, you'll want to use SEO to make sure your link bait is easy to find, but you'll also want to get out there and let bloggers, for example, know about whatever it is you've posted. You'll want to do a basic PR campaign contacting bloggers, relevant newspapers, magazines sites, get listed in any directories that may be appropriate, and so on. Of course, you'll also want to place link invitations next to your bait. A little social networking icons and share buttons that you see so often.
A quick tip, think back to the first two examples I gave in this video, YouTube and Wikipedia. Apart from the fact that they contain huge amounts of link bait, what else do they have in common? The crowd created the link bait. The organizations that run YouTube and Wikipedia don't create any content. They simply created the infrastructure that allowed other people, the crowd, to create the link bait for them. In fact, many of the world's top websites do this. Think of sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Pinterest, Craigslist, and many more.
Sites that let other people create their content, they're link bait. If it's at all possible for you to do that, it's a powerful thing. An example would be a retail company that also managed to set up and run popular forums related to its products. Adobe, for instance, hosts community learning areas. Forums and music groups, for instance, in which content provided by Adobe customers act as link bait for many thousands of links. That's perhaps not why Adobe did it, but nonetheless, link bait it is.
Creating link bait is actually quite difficult for many companies, which is why so many people turn to other methods; methods that create less valuable links. Spend a little while thinking about this, though, and you may find a way to create something that people really want to link to.
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