How to Create Predictably Popular Link Bait Posts
Link building can become a time-consuming process. Sometimes you spend hours exhausting all of your strategies and still fall short of your benchmark target.
This can be extremely frustrating.
Yet other times, certain pieces of content seem to effortlessly attract links. Before you know it, you might have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of backlinks for one post without even putting in too much effort.
Wouldn’t it be great if that was the case for all of your content? Fortunately, the possibility is more realistic than you might realize. That’s why you need to learn how to create link bait posts.
What is link bait?
Some of you might have created link bait in the past by accident, without fully understanding what you were doing. Don’t worry; this is a good thing.
In short, link bait is content that’s specifically designed to build links. The idea here is that any blogger, journalist, or influencer in your industry would feel obligated to share your link because the information is so valuable.
Creating link bait content will do wonders for your website.
First of all, this will benefit your website visitors by providing them with high-quality content. But once you start building links at scale with link bait, your site traffic will continue to rise and your search ranking will skyrocket as well.
Here’s something else to keep in mind. If you spend more time creating link bait content, you can spend less time trying to build links. All of your links will start to come organically.
This is much better than producing mediocre or sub-par content and then wasting your efforts trying to build links that nobody wants. I’ll show you everything you need to know about creating predictably popular link bait posts in this guide.
Link bait best practices
In my experience, all link bait content typically has certain characteristics in common.
With that said, you don’t necessarily need to apply all of these best practices to each post. But you can use these elements as a reference to help you come up with ideas and decide which direction you’re going to take whenever you produce new content.
Why should someone view or read your post?
If it’s nothing but fluff and long blocks of text that’s stuffed with keywords and designed strictly for SEO purposes, it’s not actually providing value to anyone. This type of content won’t go viral or become link bait.
Instead, you need to ask yourself two questions before you create anything.
- Who benefits from this content?
- How will this content help those people?
If you’re unable to answer these questions, then it’s probably not worth continuing in that direction. But when you’re able to use these questions to guide you throughout the process, it adds great value to the audience.
Value means going the extra mile. Don’t just tell someone why a certain idea works. Show them by using a case study with statistics and examples.
Then other websites will be able to use those figures a reference. Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about.
Here’s a backlink for Quick Sprout.
The article above talks about the best times to post on Facebook. So the author used a study from one of my old posts to validate their point.
My original content was valuable because it included statistics and research. If I just said, “I think you should post to Facebook on Wednesdays,” it doesn’t provide any value.
But since I took the time to create a link bait post, other sites used it as a reference without me having to go out and ask for the link.
This is common with the majority of the posts here at Quick Sprout. Just look at what happens when you search the web for “according to Quick Sprout.”
I get links like this all of the time.
For those of you who are still unconvinced, just take a look at these metrics from the backlink checker tool at Ahrefs.
Quick Sprout has more than 2.2 million backlinks from over 24,000 referring domains.
Trust me, I didn’t go out there and ask webmasters for backlinks 2 million times. The majority of this happened organically with link bait because all of the content on our blog provides so much value.
Even if you’re a blogger and a master with words, you still need to use visuals to spice up your content.
Here’s the thing. Large blocks of text in paragraph form just won’t get read. In fact, 73% of readers skim through articles as opposed to thoroughly reading them.
So if your posts aren’t reader-friendly, nobody has a reason to link to them.
But adding visuals breaks up the content and makes it easier for people to skim. Plus, visuals grab attention and add value.
Take a look at this research about blog posts from Orbit Media.
Images ranked highest as the most common element found in blog posts for the past five years in a row.
That’s because people are more drawn to visuals.
According to HubSpot, 32% of marketing professionals say that visuals are the most important type of content for their brands, which was the number one response in the survey.
Furthermore, content with visuals gets up to 94% more views compared to posts with just text.
This is definitely a recipe for increasing your chances of creating content that will ultimately turn into link bait. There are plenty of ways to add visuals to your posts.
- Original photos
These are a handful of ideas to get you started in the right direction. You can check out my full guide on how to use visual elements to enhance your blogs for more information on this.
Create content that will make people feel a certain type of way.
Write a “feel good” post that will make readers jump for joy. Or go the other way and tell a sad story of pain and agony.
Create content funny. Share something sexy. Be inspirational. Make a claim that raises some eyebrows.
Don’t be afraid to bring up topics that are controversial. Just make sure that you’re not offending anyone or doing something that will damage your brand image.
I usually recommend staying away from topics that involve politics, religion, race, and things of that nature.
But with that said, controversial content tends to go viral. Just look at this research from Backlinko.
These are some analytics from a post about racial tolerance in America. The article has been linked to more than 6,000 times.
This is a great example because the post itself doesn’t make any racist claims or anything like that.
Instead, it analyzes data, which refers back to one of our previous points about adding value. The study examined derogatory language from state to state based on Twitter locations. All of the data is shown in graphs, which adds visuals to the piece.
Based on everything we’ve discussed so far, this is a recipe for a predictably popular post.
If you want to learn more about the right emotions to invoke when you’re creating content, I recommend this post on how to guide people’s emotions to drive sales. The same concepts can be applied to link bait content.
Keep it relevant
Link bait needs to be relevant in two ways.
First and foremost, every piece of content that you produce needs to related to your niche. If you’re a fashion blogger, you shouldn’t be posting video tutorials about how to surf.
The timing of your posts needs to be relevant as well. Nobody is interested in hearing the same news story that broke six months ago. If you’re too late to the party, then sites won’t have a reason to use your link as a reference unless you find some type of new and valuable information.
On the flip side, if you’re the first to report something, then you essentially become the source. This is one of the best ways to create link bait.
Here’s an example from Forbes Magazine.
On March 5, 2019, Forbes announced that Kylie Jenner became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.
The content is relevant to their site, but more importantly, the timing was everything.
They were the first major publication to report this story. Since Kylie Jenner is such a well-known public figure, everyone seemed to have an opinion on the topic.
Bloggers and journalists needed to weigh in. But it would be an injustice to readers if they didn’t cite their sources.
So what did they do? Everyone used Forbes as a reference.
That’s why this link has more than 34,000 backlinks in just two months. This is a great example of how to create timely content that’s highly relevant.
Types of link bait content
Now that you know what your link bait posts should include, it’s time to show you some examples of the types of posts you can create using this formula.
- Videos and images
- Interactive content
We’ll go through each one of these to give you a better grasp on how these posts can attract links.
One of the reasons why list posts can be great for link bait is because they provide value.
Lists give you the opportunity to outperform everyone else on the web who has covered a certain topic.
Plus, headlines with numbers are preferred over other types of posts.
Check out my guide on tips for getting more conversions with headlines.
To get the most value out of your list posts, you can curate content from other sources. Let’s say you want to create a list of the best software for something in your industry.
Google that term and see how long other lists are. You might see lists of five, eight, ten, or twelve. This is your chance to create something that’s better than all of them.
Your list post can be the top 25 or 30 software systems. This can become the ultimate reference for people, which will quickly turn into link bait.
Comprehensive guides are popular link bait sources because they are so thorough.
Take this post you’re reading right now as an example. I could have just defined link bait and then used bullet points for best practices and wrapped up the whole thing in less than 500 words.
But that doesn’t add any value, and nobody is going to read it. Instead, I go into lots of detail in each section, using plenty of visuals and statistics to back up my claims.
So teach people how to do something.
Here’s another example of the beginner’s guide to online marketing that was previously published on Quick Sprout.
As you can see, this post is approaching 4,000 backlinks.
Comprehensive guides will always perform well because it’s easier for you to include all of the common features in a link bait post.
In addition to the value and visuals, you can also find ways to stimulate certain emotions while prioritizing relevance and timing.
We briefly talked about infographics earlier when we covered visual content. But it’s definitely worth mentioning again on its own.
As we previously discussed, images are the most popular element included in blog posts.
This means that bloggers and journalists need to find images on the web. Most of them aren’t going to take the time to create original content. It’s much easier to just find an infographic online and cite the source with a backlink.
So if you can create infographics that people will use to enhance their own content, you’ll be able to build tons of backlinks at scale.
Just make sure that your information is always accurate and up to date, which is when the relevancy factor comes into play.
If you’re using a study from 2011 to create an infographic in 2019, it’s not going to become link bait. But if you update your study and infographics each year, you’ll become an authoritative source for information.
Videos, images, and gifs
Again, these are more examples of visual content.
Depending on the type of website you have, some of these formats will be more beneficial to you than others.
For example, if you’re a photographer, you’ll definitely want to share your original photos. Then other sites can use them as a reference (similar to infographics) which will build backlinks.
Some of you could use humor to your advantage and create viral GIFs.
But that’s not necessarily a winning strategy for everyone.
Let’s say your website is more serious and professional, you’d be better off creating video tutorials of how to do something that’s related to your niche.
This isn’t necessarily the most common type of link bait, and it won’t be something that’s relevant for all of you.
But with that said, you can build tons of backlinks with interactive posts like a quiz or calculator.
For example, let’s say your website is in the real estate industry. You could create a home mortgage calculator tool. Now other websites can use your tool as a reference since it’s much easier than building their own.
Here’s another example of an emotional intelligence test.
Any post discussing emotional intelligence can link to the test for people to take. That’s why this particular test has over 1,800 backlinks.
Creating link bait content is arguably the best way to build backlinks. As discussed earlier, we’ve built more than 2.2 million backlinks here at Quick Sprout using this strategy.
While link bait usually sells itself, it doesn’t mean you should sit back and do absolutely nothing once your content has been published.
You still need to take steps to increase its exposure and boost the chances of it going viral.
Email the post to your email subscribers. Share it on social media. Incorporate it with your other link building strategies.
If you follow the best practices that I’ve outlined above, it will much easier for you to create link bait posts.