Marketers and SEOs have been using linkbaiting since before the term was invented. It’s a great way to lure people to visit a site, but some SEO authorities are claiming it’s dangerous to content. So who’s right?
Linkbait is any feature or content within a website intended to attract attention or encourage others to link to that website. When you use the right words, images and placement, linkbaiting can be a very powerful marketing tool.
But when does link baiting become bad?
Disadvantages of Linkbaiting
The term “linkbaiting” itself sounds dubious. Anyone new to the concept might think it’s an unscrupulous tactic. Link baiting conjures images of tricking an innocent Internet user to open a link without their understanding.
However, we can’t say that everyone who falls prey to creatively-written content clicked through without their understanding. It’s hard not to click a compelling headline like “How to be a Billionaire in 10 Years” “15 Secrets Your Dentist isn’t Telling You” or “[Insert famous female celebrity]‘s Most Embarrassing Moments.”
The danger lies in how marketers tend to abuse content tactics:
• Email marketing started to go out of control, so email services had to create spam filters
• Content farms began taking advantage of link building, forcing Google to change its algorithm and main ranking factors
• Pop-up ads became so annoying that browsers had to create pop-up blockers
Who’s to say that linkbaiting isn’t next?
If content creators aren’t careful, content marketing could fall into the same spiral, and looks like it’s already happening.
If you look around, you’re sure to find promoted headlines and features that turn out to be false facts, misleading information or media sensationalism. Daily Mail, for instance, published an article titled “Chocolate and fizzy drinks could be used as cancer detectors because malignant tumors feed off sugar,” which is an inaccurate representation of a scientific experimental research.
Another example of bad linkbaiting is a Reddit post that angers readers but is actually a ploy by the OP to get traffic and links to their blog, or a blog post that defames a celebrity simply because the writer wants more hits for their website.
Content marketing is widely practiced because it works. People share content and purchase products from a brand mainly because of its content, not its advertisements. Linkbaiting isn’t always evil, but it can be abused. If you have to do something negative to get attention, that is the worst way to market yourself.
Always Give Your Audience Valuable Content
Negative link baiting may get you traffic and links over the short term, but it can hurt your reputation. Remember that a damaged reputation is more difficult to fix than a drop in search engine rankings, and it can take months or years to gain people’s trust but it will take just a few minutes to destroy that trust.
Here are guidelines content creators should follow to preserve quality.
1. Meet academic writing standards
Academic writing is all about accuracy, research, and carefully choosing the right words. This is the writing model that content creators should follow to exhibit authority and quality. Provide citations in the form of links, conduct deep research, develop unique arguments, and create a convincing effect. You don’t necessarily have to write all articles in a formal, professional tone.
There are generally two main factors that determine a piece of content’s quality: the writing standard and the level of understanding displayed. When you’re an established leader in the industry doesn’t immediately follow that you’ll be able to communicate concepts in written format. Conversely, a talented wordsmith needs proper guidance and research to communicate concepts in written format.
2. Check your facts
Making sure facts are accurate doesn’t really increase traffic or shares, but inaccurate facts will ruin content quality and your brand’s credibility. Accurate information should be seen by your readers as one of your standard facets.
Check your facts before clicking the Publish button; read what you’ve written slowly and verify every piece of information.
A lot of information online are believed to be true by some people but are actually just rumors. Don’t publish information unless you’re 100% sure they’re factual. If someone says your content missed something, make the right corrections and thank the person.
3. Quote experts or reference supporting data
Content creation also requires covering topics you barely know about. Quality can be compromised if you lack a good grasp of the topic. By reaching out to subject matter experts, you can share their knowledge and raise the content’s authority.
The more real-world examples and supporting data you use to back up your assertions, the more persuasive they become. Also, it’s easier to understand abstract ideas if you apply real-world examples.
4. Know what your audience wants
Before creating a piece of content meant for linkbaiting, ask yourself if your audience will find it valuable. They subscribe and go back to your blog because they expect to get the kind of content they signed up for.
Think of your audience as restaurant regulars – they come back every day because of your specialties. If your food has changed for the worse, they’ll stop returning and look for another eating joint.
Consider both the customers and the brand’s needs to maintain that connection between content creator and audience.
5. Go easy on SEO
On-page optimization is crucial for your website, but bad if misused or practiced too extremely. If you unnaturally sprinkle keywords all over a page to have a top listing, it will backfire. Content written by machines for machines will not resonate with human readers.
Good content creators can maintain good keyword density while weaving key terms in a sensible way. The technique is to have an integrated strategy and incorporating SEO principles without harming quality.
Making Your Content Stand Out
Some of the most successful SEO blogs have hundreds of thousands of regular visitors because they give a unique, fresh spin to already-known topics. Take Search Engine Watch and QuickSprout, for example.
Experts can present new insights about a topic in their area of expertise, even if that topic is well-discussed. When you have vast knowledge about your field and if you constantly monitor trends and updates in your niche, it’s easier to find new ways of presenting ideas and discover things no one has talked about yet.
Search a topic on Google before writing about it to check if there’s already content about it. Subscribe to RSS feeds of popular blogs to get content ideas from their stream of posts.
After generating topic ideas, create a case study, infographic or white paper about it. You may even advertise your own ebook. This is a great way to try different techniques and distribute a variety of content.
There are various things you can do to improve your content and make it stand out without engaging in dodgy linkbaiting techniques. There’s no need to go down the road of deception and controversy.