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How To Write Great Link Bait

1. What is link bait and Why Would I Want to Make it?

Link bait is any media that gets people excited, in any capacity, about the content of that media, and inspires them to link back to it so their discourse on the subject is relevant.

Depending on how you leverage the link bait, your site might get lots of traffic that you can monetize, you may receive lots of back links that will boost your rankings, or you may gain brand recognition by simply putting your brand or product in front of lots of people. There is no limit to HOW you can leverage link bait, you’re only limited by your creativity.

2. Is it disingenuous to Link bait?

No. Link bait comes in many shapes and forms. Just because something is interesting or controversial doesn’t mean it’s fake of disingenuous. Historically, there has been more success leveraging ridiculous things for link bait, but by no means should you feel that in creating link bait you have to put your brand, product, or image at risk by creating something fake or misleading. You could simply take an unpopular stance on a subject, or come up with a novel new approach to solving a problem. These would all qualify as link bait, and will only help your image. However, in my personal endeavor for traffic, I happen to think that there is no such thing as bad publicity, or too much traffic.

3. But my niche is BORING…

HOGWASH. There is no such thing as a boring niche, and there is no such thing as an ‘unbaitable’ audience. You’ve got to follow one simple rule. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. If the majority of your readers are basketball fans, you’re not going to rile anyone up by being controversial about NASCAR. By the same token, no NASCAR fan is going to get riled up about you talking smack about Lebron. The truth of the matter is that if you don’t KNOW your audience, link bait isn’t going to help you. You might be successful in getting some people to your site, but if you don’t know them, you won’t be able to convert them into leads or email addresses , and you should start looking for a tall ledge in which to jump from, it’ll be easier than trying to bait a crowd you know nothing about.

3.5 But My Niche Isn’t Controversial….
HOGWASH.
I’m going to out one of my niches here and talk about kitchen knives. “How Boring” you might think. Why would I give half a shit about kitchen knives? You wouldn’t. That’s where creativity comes in. You’ve got to take something we care about and appropriate it to kitchen knives. Perhaps make a small video of you chopping up a house fly to put in your girlfriends soup, using a REALLY sharp knife. Maybe you do a “Top 10 Knives Used By Serial Killers” article where you show which killers dismembered people with a machete, which with a hatchet, and which with a Japanese steak knife. My point here is that you can’t expect these things to write themselves or you’ll be left with boring dribble about double edged serration. You’ve got to take peoples feelings and mold them to care about something you want them to link to. Let me say that again. THIS IS ABOUT FEELINGS. You’ve got to reach through the screen and give people a reason to care.

Another example that comes to mind was on an SEO chat I was in this past Friday. A gentleman asked me how he could promote some kind of male jewelry site. How the hell do you get someone to give a crap about a ring? For a guy nonetheless. I’m not talking about a “3 Months Salary” deal here, I’m talking just a metallic ring. I thought a video would be the best way to draw people in. The perspective is that of a security camera. Duct tape a flip cam into the corner of a room, and make it black and white in post production. WHATEVER. BEG BORROW AND STEAL TO MAKE IDEAS HAPPEN. That’s another post though… The premise is that you’ve got an industrial room with a non-descript machine in it with a big sign on it that warns of it’s magnetism. It’s a GIANT electric magnet. Enter our guy wearing a ring. Behind the video, there is the funny banter of people watching the security video.

“Haha there he is. Ok call him”
*DTMF TONES and Giggling*
*Guy picks up Phone*
“Hello?”
*Quieted Laughter*
“ok now turn it on now”
*GUYS ARM WITH CELL PHONE FLIES INTO ELECTRO MAGNET BOX AS IF HE GAVE IT A HUGE UNINTENTIONAL HIGH FIVE DUE TO MAGNETISM PULLING THE RING IN*
*Laughter ensues*
“ok turn if off”
*HIS ARM RETURNS TO NORMAL*

Now really, what did that have to do with rings? Nothing. But you can title the video “Man gets ring sucked into electro magnet”. Now you’ll have anchor texts all over with “Ring” in it and a lot of people getting a laugh.

4. How Can I Make Sure My Idea Blows Up?

This is where we separate the men from the boys. Making good content is just half the battle. Without the resources to promote your content, you’re McScrewed. Spend time on Digg. There is a community of people there who digg each others stuff. I can prattle on about this, but Rob_TID has a nice post on Wickedfire in his thread about how to leverage Digg. Read that.

You’re going to have failures. If you guys know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m absolutely unafraid to fail. I post up everything without fear of reprisal. WickedFire.com is a tough audience. However, the flames and criticism make me better at what I do. I see it like throwing spaghetti at a wall. You’ve got to learn what sticks. On this note, if you don’t feel you have the creative, or writing capacity to accomplish this, but have ideas, by all means hire a content writer. Their job is to take your ideas and put them into print.

Above all, be unafraid of reprisal. TRY OUT DIFFERENT THINGS. If I had told you I had an idea for a horse playing a piano and a man talking about sweet lemonade you’d probably think I was retarded or high. However, we all know how well that creative vision worked out for someone. Sweet lemonade.

5. Exercises

I’ve designed these to help myself and others come up with original ideas that you can use to create narrative around. Read them, try them. I’ll do my best to give examples.

A. The Downfall – Think carefully about your niche, and what would absolutely devastate it. What would take the world as you know it and turn it upside down? I wrote this as an RIAA executive in 1999…

“I’ve seen it. The future. It’s grim for music sales as we know them today. Last week a friend invited me over to his house, he’s an “internets” genius of one sort or another, and he showed me an MT3. It’s music on the computer, and it’s small enough that you could download one in about 25 minutes using a dialup connection. I said to him, ‘This is ridiculous. Who’d wait 25 minutes for a song?!’. That’s when he asked if I had seen the commercials for High Speed Internet touting speed 100x faster than dial-up. I went home, poured a glass of scotch, and started putting my resume together…”

B. The Savant – The idea here is to take a normal person (or child) and make them really good at something related to your niche. For those unaware, a Savant is a person good at or knowledgeable about one specific thing, but terrible at everything else. I suspect were in the company of a few here on WF. This author may have been referred to as one on occasion.

“I spent a few summers working pit crew for various race teams, and enjoyed my souped up street car. I’ve done my fair share of racing, and felt like I had a good handle on the concepts employed. This is why I was so hurt as I watched little 12 year Jannie Somegirl drift by me on her Go-Kart. The world of professional kart racing isn’t unlike the world of professional real-car-racing, and I was being schooled. For the last 3 years Jannie has been dominating the Stock modified class nationwide against men twice her age. ”

C. The Wetdream – Simply think of something that you wish existed in your niche, and make it exist. If it doesn’t fake or make it. If it does, brand it and sell it. If it sort of does, change it. If it exists somewhere else, but could apply to you, rebrand that bitch. This example is of the last one.

“I’d only been able to overclock my Dual Celeron board to 533Mhz, but when I saw my friend Tim nitrogen cooling his car, I knew I’d found my answer. Using his license, we bought 5 liters of compressed liquid nitrogen and set off to my garage with a bad ass pair of gloves, a case of Jolt, and hopes of breaking the “gigahertz” barrier.”

D. The Hero – Be the hero. Make the hero. Or Make the hero look like a douche. This is popular no matter what niche. Reddit often loves these kinds of submissions. Hint.

“The girl behind the counter told me ‘I, like, have never heard of a plasma that cheap before. I think the internet lied to you dude.’ I insisted, showing her the newspaper advertisement from her store, and pointing at it. She said, “Well, whatevs, I don’t think it’s here, but I mean, you can totally try looking. Damnit Tanya, FML! Seriously…” She was staring to lose her focus. Feeling an impending sneeze coming on, I found myself with a heavy hand. Perhaps because I was afraid I’d hit her if I lifted up that hand. Whatever the reason, I sneezed on this bitch. Not just like a little guy. I blew her away hurricane style. Parts of her hair came out of the pony tail I blasted her so bad. Worse yet, her mouth was gaping wide open since she was such a dumb mouth breathing bitch, she tasted my anger.”

5. Do I need a large budget?

No. You don’t really need any budget at all. However, I’ve found that with videos and such, the higher the production value of the video, the easier it is for people to feel good about promoting it. Also, most good link bait ideas can be put together relatively quickly. If you find yourself spending lots of time on something REALLY complex take a step back and ask yourself if this is the best way to go about solving the problem.

6. Where do I submit too?

Well, if you know your audience this question should answer itself. However, as a matter of principal, I carpet bomb. Submit everywhere that will take your submission. Digg, Reddit, Slashdot, TUAW, Engadget, Tweet it, Retweet it, Facebook it, MySpace it, Blog it, get your friends to blog it. BE RESOURCEFUL. I think people have more contacts than they realize. OPEN YOUR “ROLODEX” and don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to people. Most people are open to ideas and diggs. They want to be able to reach out to your for the same thing later. And don’t be a douche and dick them when they do. You get only what you give.

Any Questions?

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