Link building post-Penguin – 10 top link bait tips!

January 25, 2016

Backlinks are as important as ever when it comes to ranking criteria. A domain which boasts a high number of high quality external backlinks doesn’t just benefit from an increased traffic flow but also from greater domain popularity. One of the most tried and tested methods to guarantee a positive effect on rankings is link bait. Here, with the help of examples, we present some simple link bait ideas which you can implement into your link building strategies.

Competitions and prizes

Particularly effective on social media, competitions and prizes encourage users to interact with your brand and provide links to your domain. Attractive prizes help to draw in new visitors and increase partcipation in the competition. The easier it is to take part, the more new users will be happy to get involved. The more people get involved, the more the competition is shared and the more valuable links you receive. The most important step however is retaining your new users’ attention once the competition has ended.

Example: Travel agent Interpid travel launched a photo competition and asked holidaymakers to send in photos of their trip. In order to attract as many partcipants as possible, the company made it clar that users didn’t have to be professional photogaphers in order to take part!

Studies, opinion polls and customer surveys

The storage of various customer details can also be used as link bait in the form of studies, opinion polls and customer surveys. Survey results can be of particular interest to specialist magazines who are likely to take up these results and share them in the form of links. When conducting such surveys however, make sure that data can be evaluated using standard mesaures so that external sources can easily check and verify them.

Scientific studies can be expensive but they benefit from increased trust and believability, enabling them to generate high quality links. However the opposite can be true for data which you collect yourself. Such data is of course cheaper but is more difficult for external users to verify and may be considered less objective. The most effective, but also most expensive, method is to commission a reputable survey company to conduct a representative poll. Their reputation is sure to have a positive effect on links.

Example: German car dealer AutoScout24 launched a large survey in which they asked their customers what they would most like to see in the car of the future. The results were published online for free download.

Tools, generators and calculators

Useful tools such as online generators and calculators which solve a user’s problem have long been used as link bait. The key is to ensure that these tools fit as naturally and organically as possible, functioning not just as link bait but perhaps also as tool bait to encourage users to sign up for a more comprehensive software. The best tool baits are easy-to-use, helpful calculators and generators which offer the user a quick and clear benefit. Pay particular attention to the embedding code. Often, helpful tools use a standard embedding code which can lead to unnatural looking link structures, so make sure that the backlink is never placed directly in a tool. External users who want to embed the calculator on their own site should be asked for a seperate link instead. These manual links help to generate a future-proof link structure which will survive any forthcoming Google updates.

Example: Many banks and lenders offer free tools which calculate how much money a customer can borrow and how much interest they will pay. Such tools are often accompanied by FAQ’s amswering common queries, for instance whether users are even eligible for the loan.

Interactive graphics

A multimedia depiction of a relevant or current topic has the power to animate the masses – moving images and sound always attract a larger audience. Professional implementation of graphics increases both interaction and sharing of an app.

It’s important to ensure that a common multimedia format is used which functions without the use of any additional tools or scripts. Users should be able to intereract immediately with a graphic which should also be self-explanatory. Interactive graphics allow even more complex messages to be communicated in a playful and simple way, making them easier to grasp. Furthermore, they enable concepts to be viewed through a different lense, as viewers experience the message in a more lively manner thanks to the images and sounds.

Example: The Hungry Tech Giants graphic from SimplyBusiness depicts the acquisition strategies of 5 technology giants over the past 15 years. Each individual point displays the company or brand aquired and the price of the acquisition with a simple mouseover, whilst a single click takes users directly to the official announcement containing further information about the takeover.

Scandal and exlusives

One of the oldest link bait tricks used in the media is the reporting of scandal, spectacle, gossip and current affairs – all of which are gleefully shared and spread by curious users. True to the saying that “all publicity is good publicity”, the most effective news bait contains exlusive revelations or scandalous accusations. A brand which offers exclusive content backed up by serious sources is just as interesting for nosy users as it is for journalists. Vital for any good news bait is the cooperation of journalists whose standing as social sharers convey the appropriate relevance and seriousness of the story. It’s a good idea to combine news bait with classic PR to guarantee maximum value.

E-books, white papers and digital brochures

The growing importance of digital information shows no sign of stopping, and official advice sheets and broschures are increasingly made available online. This has had the effect of promoting quality of content above format and layout. Brands which stand out with valuable content before even having provided their regular service exude a professionalism which encourages further questions and ultimately orders.

The key is professional presentation. Content should be composed by professional authors and graphics and design should be aethetically pleasing in order to guarantee long term value. This is of course time and cost intensive but the final product will be valid and current for years to come, whether as a print version to be sent to customers as part of a welcome pack or as a part of the brand’s dialogue marketing.

Example: San Francisco barristas Intelligentsia Coffee offer their online visitors various e-books instructing them on how to brew different types of coffee. Precise instructions are complemented by useful, aesthetically pleasing illustrations.

Infographics and charts

Visually presented content is easier to understand than pure text. And due to its visual character, it also reaches a much larger target audience. A brand which is able to identify relevant topics and present them clearly in informative graphics can use such images as link bait.

Information within an infographic must be presented clearly and comprehensively in order to reach the target audience as easily as possible. A short, consise caption should accompany the image and support the transmission of information. Don’t forget to include an embedding code in HTML. Only in this way will the infographic have the desired effect and maybe even go viral.

Example: German statistics portal Statista produced a Christmas infographic which presented information in such a way that was perfect for the time of year. It was freely available to download and could be embedded on users’ own domains.

Fake products

Products or services which at first glance may appear illegal can quickly which a large audience by being confusing and/or entertaining. Made-up products can make a nice change when it comes to increasing brand awareness. Fictional products should be unusual and shocking but also believable enough to be professionally presented.

To guarantee optimal link gain, a fake product should obviously fit the genuine products and services offered by a brand. Overly large exaggerations can puncture believability and brand awareness plumets as soon as the fictional aspect is exposed and wears off. In an ideal scenario, a fake product is so convincing and unique that it attracts so much attention so as to actually make a profit! Fake products are short term tactic to boost visibilty (they all get exposed in the end!) so they are best combined with more serious, long term content marketing measures.

Example: UK based DesirableBody advertised the genius “ToneFone” – an extra heavy iPhone case which doubles as a dumbbell to give you a work-out every time you send a text. Unfortunately, the ToneFone is no longer in stock, but you can still check out what might have been at

Web videos, webisodes and viral videos

Moving image formats are becoming ever more popular because they are able to speak to their target audience more emotionally. However, many brands make the mistake of using existing channels auch as YouTube or Vimeo to host their videos, which serve only to boost traffic to the video platform itself! When it comes to viral video, independent hosting is key and, just as with e-books and online manuals, so is quality. The most successful videos offer valuable content as well as that all-important entertainment factor, which combine to send them viral.

Video content can be spread and shared with the help of HTML and JavaScript codes. Quality video production requires substantial financial input but if done correctly can lead to viral sharing and top rankings on social media channels. Social networks also have the added advantage of being available to accurately measure the virality of a video through views, shares and likes.

Sponsorships and donations

Sponsorships and donations have taken on a new dynamic as link bait with the development of sharing on the internet. By sponsoring charitable organisations and promoting good causes which name their sponsors, brands can benefit from positive publicity and good will. This can translate into substantial reach via good communication. Make sure that the sponsor or donor is always linked from the charity, not just named.

Any sponsorship action must be focussed on a genuine value and benefit for the brand, in addition to thankyous and simple good. The latter are nice, but unfortunately don’t make money. The partner should also match the brand well so as to justify association ahead of purely commercial interests. Whilst these measures can be fairly expensive, they enable brands to present themselves as socially active and aware.

Author Fionn Kientzler

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