Link Bait Can Transform Your Approach to Link Building
Are you fed up with pouring hours of time into creating content only for it not to earn links? Maybe you are looking for a tactic that can help you to build quality backlinks at scale?
Link building isn’t easy. In fact, there has never been this much competition from other marketers trying to land links from the same places that you are.
But what if things were different?
What if you could confidently launch content that earned authoritative links every time, and that people actually want to link to? Content that adds so much value to an article or web page that your outreach prospect would be crazy not to link!
That is what link bait can help you to do, and in this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about the tactic, as well as gain an insight into 8 awesome examples that have successfully earned great links. Here are the main concepts I will cover:
What is Link Bait?
Link bait is all about creating content that is so awesome and valuable that journalists, bloggers, and other content publishers want to link to it.
And we are not just talking one or two links. Often, this type of content can result in hundreds of earned links, just like this example below, that we will be sharing shortly, that saw a single study earn links from 847 referring domains:
It is the process of creating linkable content that would be hard not to link to when someone is presented with it. When done right, link bait makes it easy to earn authority links at scale, and these links can have a huge impact on organic search visibility.
In fact, let's not forget that Google's Webmaster Guidelines' link schemes document confirms that:
The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.
Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
Link bait is exactly this, creating content that gains popularity, and that gets linked to because of how valuable it is to readers.
And while we can explain link bait as 'awesome content that people actually want to link to' at a very top level, there is more to it than that because not all content can be positioned as link bait.
Far from it. In fact, the majority of link bait falls into a few different content formats, including:
- Interactive assets
- Data-driven studies and other assets
- Long-form guides
- Controversial or talking-point content
There are, of course, exceptions to this, but these formats typically make up the majority of link bait pieces, which are a powerful way to get backlinks for your site; you just need to understand how to use it effectively.
Why Link Bait Is An Effective Link Building Tactic
Link bait is an effective link building tactic for the simple reason that it is one of the few that you can use to earn authority links at scale, as well as one that you can scale.
Take a tactic such as broken link building, in comparison, that relies on opportunities being available for you to take advantage of (in this case, dead links on other people's websites).
With link bait, you're in full control. You just need to create link-worthy content; how you scale this tactic up is in your full control.
And that is why it is so effective for the reason that it is one of the few tactics that you can scale without sacrificing quality.
It is important to note that these links don't just help the page that is earning them to rank on the SERPs. These links also increase the overall authority of your website through the PageRank that is passed from your link bait content, helping all your pages to rank for increasingly competitive terms.
What Makes Great Link Bait?
There are many different things that go into great link bait, but some of the most successful pieces launched by marketers share several common traits.
Let's look at the most common similarities between successful pieces:
- Appeal to a wide enough audience that they can earn links at scale from quality publications.
- Can be cited by a journalist or content creator to back up stats, quotes, or comments that they include in their articles.
- Elicit an emotional response by a reader.
- Solves problems or answer questions.
- May be controversial or hook into a hot topic that is being aggressively covered by the media.
- Are executed in a way that linking to the content makes sense and needs to be in place to add value to an article.
High quality, link bait content that meets a need or provides value to a wide audience is what will help you earn the links you want; keep this in mind when creating content.
8 Link Bait Examples You Can Learn From
Perhaps the best way to learn about the impact link bait can have, and understand just what makes a successful piece of content, is to be inspired by examples.
And below, we have selected 8 link bait examples that we think you can learn a lot from. We will look at each one of them and collect insights from the SEMrush backlink analytics tool to showcase what made them so successful.
1. JustPark's Emergency Stop Game
This piece of link bait earned 6.5K backlinks from 542 referring domains.
Interactive content often creates great link bait, and games are no exception, just as we can see from this innovative game launched by JustPark.
It is a highly effective game that allows you to test your reaction times and see just what age these compare with, and it is harder than you might think.
But that is what makes it so linkable and sharable, the fact that we are compelled to share our own results with other people.
This content elicits an emotional response as well as making a link a vital part of any coverage; how could a publisher write about the game without linking out to it? It just wouldn't make sense.
By creating something that content creators will want to send their traffic to helps you land links, not just brand mentions.
2. Comparisun's 'Trillion Dollar Club' Study
This piece of link bait earned 3K backlinks from 847 referring domains.
On the forefront, this study projects forward the net worth of the world's richest billionaires to estimate when we are likely to see the world's first trillionaire, and who that might be.
It is a clever and very simple data study, yet one which is incredibly accessible to publishers looking to cite a stat or reference a talking point within their articles. And that is why this single piece of content has earned links from 847 domains.
When you dive deep into the coverage and the hook that this piece of link bait took, we can clearly see that it has been used to cause a little controversy around Jeff Bezos and his accelerated earnings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
This simple study continues to earn links almost weekly, likely on autopilot.
It is a fantastic example of a data study that journalists can cite as a source with statistics, and it can hook into current news time and time again.
3. Superdrug's 'Perceptions of Perfection' Visuals
This piece of link bait earned 1.7K backlinks from 548 referring domains.
This is another example of a link bait piece that could be seen as slightly controversial in some ways but is inevitably a phenomenal piece of content that has picked up links from 548 domains.
But why is it so successful?
This content was accessible by so many different publications in a number of countries around the world due to the fact that the visuals showcase how designers across different locations view perfection — it also shows the unrealistic expectations and stereotypes forced on women.
With one starting photo, designers were asked to photoshop this to portray perfection in their country and culture, and the end result certainly creates a talking point and showcases the cultural differences across the globe.
It has been covered by national and international newspapers, lifestyle magazines, blogs, and more, and its accessibility combined with talking-point content is what has made it perform so well.
4. Fundera's 'What Percentage of Small Businesses Fail' Stats
This piece of link bait earned 9.5K backlinks from 1.4K referring domains.
If you have never seen stats pages used as link bait, you have been missing out on a really effective link building tactic. Now, it might seem boring to produce a piece of content that is often a nicely designed list of stats and facts, but there is a reason why these often earn hundreds, if not thousands, of links.
And this is because journalists, bloggers, and other content creators are actively looking for statistics to include in their articles to back up their claims.
But where do they find these? Google.
Most people simply go to the search engine and run a search to find the stats they are looking for and link out to cite their source.
That means that if you have created an awesome asset that ranks at the top of the SERPs for related terms, you stand a good chance that it will be your page that is linked to and referenced, even if you just curated stats from other sources yourself.
The above piece from Fundera is optimized for 'what percentage of small businesses fail?', rather than the typical 'stats' headline.
They chose this because that is what people are looking for, primarily, and we can see that this piece ranks prominently on Google, meaning it likely earns links almost on autopilot.
It is successful because it answers a question that publishers are looking to answer, and makes it easy to be cited (and linked to) as a source.
5. Canva's 'Colour Palette Generator' Tool
This piece of link bait earned 938 backlinks from 434 referring domains.
When can provide something truly useful, it can be used as the perfect piece of link bait, just like this tool from Canva demonstrates.
Canva identified an active audience of searchers looking for a simple solution to grab a color palette from a photo. Granted, it can be done in Photoshop, but this takes time, and that is a paid tool that isn't accessible for most people. So there was a market for a simple and effective solution.
It works, and people love it.
But the reason why it has earned links from 434 domains is that it is helpful and adds value. And when a tool like this adds value, people want to mention it (and link to it) in their own content.
If you can solve people's problems or answer their questions, you are often onto a winner.
6. NerdWallet's 'Millennial Homebuying Myths' Study
This piece of link bait earned 2.2K backlinks from 1.1K referring domains.
This piece of content has performed so well for one single reason; it debunks a common myth that most of us would have believed to be true.
There is a common belief that "Millennials are renting longer, living with their parents, and are saddled with student loan debt. In short, it would seem they aren’t interested in homeownership."
But this study by NerdWallet proves that this isn't the case, using data from authoritative sources and that a majority of millennials would prefer owning to renting, they just can't afford it.
When you are able to debunk a common myth and change people's train of thought, people want to cover it. And when there is a wealth of data available, they also want to link to it.
It is controversial in a different way to some of our other examples, but in so much that it challenges people's thoughts and opinions. And when it comes to creating a talking point, it works wonders.
7. Veygo's 'The World's Most Desired Motors' Map
This piece of link bait earned 191 backlinks from 102 referring domains.
Maps and other static visuals can be a great way to build links, for the simple reason that they are easy to share. For this type of link bait to be successful, people actually have to want to share and link to it.
And this example from Veygo takes a really simple piece of data — Google searches — and compares the most desired car manufacturers in every country around the world.
It is successful because it has been made accessible to publishers right across the world, yet answering questions that each can relate to.
As an example, did you really believe that Toyota was the USA's most searched automotive manufacturer?
Probably not. But that is what makes it a great headline, and when there is a great headline and hook, content creators want to jump onto it and share it with their audience.
Being relatable and surprising at the same time work really well, and are approaches that you should consider when creating your own content.
8. Reviews.org's 'Disney+ Dream Job'
This piece of link bait earned 2.1K backlinks from 803 referring domains.
This piece is a competition, but at first glance, it doesn't look like a competition.
It is simple and effective link bait at its finest, and this is an awesome example of a well thought out piece of content that has earned over two thousand links.
This competition was dressed up as a dream job, one where you will get paid to do nothing but watch Disney+. It is relatable and it creates a talking point. After all, who wouldn't want to get paid to watch movies all day long?
It is also the perfect example to showcase that success is all about the idea and that packaging something up in a press-worthy way can work wonders.
To Sum Up
Link bait can help you build authority links at scale, and that is the goal that many link builders and SEOs set out to achieve. You just need to research and understand how to create content that everyone wants to talk about, and you will inevitably see success from this tactic.