5 Tips for Linkbait

Search optimization is not an automated, technical task. You can’t, as your local SEO consultant might suggest, build an XML sitemap, submit your site to Google, and automatically rank high on search engines. You need sites willing to link to yours.

Each backlink builds your credibility in search engines’ eyes. It’s viewed as a vote of confidence from another site; you produced content that was worth discussing. The more sites that link to you, the more important or useful you are on the web.

However, you’re faced with a particular challenge with the fact that not all links all equal. A vote from CNN is likely to be worth more than a vote from JoeBlowNews.biz. It’s a vicious cycle where the more important sites are linked to more often (by virtue of being at the top of results) and their links hold more and more weight.

Aside from activist strategies that consist of going out and finding people willing to link to you, you can have some success by producing unique content that people will want to discuss on other sites. Here are five tips you can use to persuade people to link to your content:

1. Be Consistent.

Writing one or two really informative articles helps your site be seen as an authority in a particular field, but it’s too easy for people to write off the occasional flash of genius as a fluke. You need to consistently publish noteworthy content. Do it for six months and you’ll see results. Too often business owners, bloggers, and other ambitious types want to be first on Google and expect it to happen tomorrow. Form a plan and stick to it for at least six months. Then start looking for results.

2. Be Controversial.

Take a stand on an issue. Pick a fight, even. Too often people publish articles online that dance around issues or offer almost groveling praise of a product or service. Make sure to avoid rampant negativity by discussing what you’d like to see done alongside the injustices you’re writing about, but make sure to take a clear stance. This kind of controversy will make you popular with people who agree with you – there’s always someone. Further, it will make you unpopular with the people who disagree. While conflict might not always be beneficial, it still generates backlinks as your opponents discuss your views online.

3. Be Honest.

Nobody’s perfect. Nobody is always the smiling face staring back at the reader in their profile picture. By including your human side in articles, you immediately become more personable and genuine. While the plastic persona that businesses put off has been successful for many, if you’re just starting out you will only come off as arrogant and aloof if you portray a purely artificial persona. You need to write almost as you speak and try to meet people on their own terms. Your honesty will win points – and links.

4. Publicize.

Especially if you’re being consistent, a strategy of publicizing your work will go a long way in gaining visibility online. Some of the best writers and business people I’ve met have also been the most modest. They build what they sell and post it on their websites, and assume that people will talk about it if it’s a good product. But these people overlook the challenge involved in getting people to see it. The internet houses trillions of pages, and an individual might travel through hundreds during a single session. Your site needs to be in front of them if you expect any positive feedback. The modest types will be bothered by explicit publicization efforts. Remind them or yourselves that people don’t click on or discuss links they think are boring. If you’re product isn’t any good, they won’t discuss it. But at least they’ll see it.

5. Learn.

The web is rife with regurgitated knowledge. If you’re familiar with a particular field, do some searches online about questions you’re asking. If nothing useful shows up, do some in depth research and write an article about it. Or, put another way, listen to Matt Cutts’ advice for people trying to optimize online. Write something really useful. Regurgitating old content or posting nonsense won’t generate any backlinks and will make the represented author or brand look like an idiot.