Even if you’re only casually acquainted with the world of search engine optimisation, there’s no doubt you will have come across the expression ‘linkbait’. Compared to a flashy term like ‘hyperlinking’ it may sound slightly seedy, but what exactly is it?
In a nutshell, it’s a method of getting lots of websites to provide a link to your own. Like lots of SEO techniques, there’s good and bad ways of doing it.
The best and most natural way is to provide popular content on your site. This can fall into several categories:
News – If you can generate novel content – maybe industry news covering breaking stories – it can generate a huge amount of traffic. A good example is gossip site TMZ breaking the news of Michael Jackson’s death. TMZ generated tens of thousands of links in a few hours from that one piece of news content.
Resource – Aggregating information for visitors to your site can encourage lots of activity. This could be anything – news and reviews to recipes or advice on DIY.
Humour – This is a constant temptation for anyone who has to spend time productively on the internet, sites featuring viral videos, ‘fails’ or other rib-tickling stuff can see a lot of traffic as content is spread on social networking sites.
Antagonistic – Content that flies in the face of popular opinion can bring lots of visitors, even if it’s just to give a piece of their mind if they disagree.
Of course, there is a darker side to linkbait. With link exchanging, a website may provide lots of links to another site in return for links, but this is generally frowned upon by search engines and can result in a website being penalised. Less obvious is ‘multi-way linking’, or having three or more sites providing one way links all to each other.
With search algorithms from Google becoming more sophisticated, and therefore more difficult to second guess, there’s no doubt that high quality content and cunning SEO are excellent tools for capturing visitors to your site.