My Link Baiting Idea Generation Process

14 Dec

We all know that link baiting can be one of the efficient ways of getting more websites to link to yours (if you don’t, please go read these articles first). However, there’s a huge difference between knowing that it could work, and actually being successful with it.
idea

In my opinion, there are five important success determining factors for a link bait, and you’ll have to score at least 4/5 in order to reach the results you’re after;

  • The idea
  • The title/ headline
  • The content
  • The promotion
  • Luck

In this article, I’ll try to give you some directions for finding good ideas that match your situation. That leaves you with only having to fill in the other four :)

Everything starts with having a goal

Before you even start thinking about link baiting, you should have some goals prepared. These goals usually come from your marketing or business plan, and should be followed up by an evaluation of your current situation (or the other way around, depending on your business process).  During this evaluation, you’ll take look at where you’re at right now, if your goals are still achievable, and what you’d have to do in order to achieve those goals.

If the goals seem to be within reach, you’ll have to decide what kind of link building strategy would probably be the most effective in your situation. And if it turns out that link baiting is the appropriate weapon of choice, you usually have three options.

Single target link bait

This is where you create a piece of highly targeted content, in order to obtain a link from just one or two -very valuable- websites. In case you’re desperately looking for high authority websites, it might be worth it to devote some extra time to getting your dream site to link to yours. Writing guest content for high authority websites in your niche is single target link bait as well, in my opinion. If your site doesn’t seem to be trusted enough in the eyes of Google, make obtaining a few highly authoritative links your main goal.

Best matching link baiting hook: Education & information.

Limited target link bait

Another option is to create a piece of content which is targeted at a relatively small group of very relevant websites. A great example of this is the recently re-launched ‘Top 100 Online Marketers‘, which is well-targeted at the egos of 100 online marketers and their followers. With a specific audience of high profile internet marketers, the result of this campaign is probably quite some awareness amongst (and links from) a relevant group of people and websites. If your link profile lacks relevance, a limited target link bait is your friend.

Best matching link baiting hook: Resources.

Mass link bait

The most well know version of link baiting is the mass version, where a piece of content is created that is supposed to reach a very large audience. You can see examples, including 20 amazing facts about beer or this amazing shark pic, waiting for at you at Digg or Reddit’s front page every single day. Although the average relevance and/ or the quality of the links that a mass link bait campaign can result in is usually relatively low, the amount of links can be very high. If you’re mainly looking for plain numbers, a mass link bait is probably the way to go.

Best matching link baiting hook: Entertainment, widgets.

Know, and understand your audience

Each of these three link baiting options requires a different approach, because you’re dealing with different audiences. Your audience is not only the people who end up visiting your website, but also the people who link to you and (either directly or indirectly) help you to promote your content. If these people think your content is good enough, they’ll spread the word – it’s as simple as that. But how do you know if your audience will like it?

Define who your audience is

First, you’ll have to know who your audience is, and this depends on the type of link bait you’ll be using. It’s relatively easy with a single target link bait, but it can be more difficult for the other types of link bait. Once you’ve identified your audience, write it down on a piece of paper, so it’ll remain clear for you in the future as well.

Know what moves your audience (into linking to external sources)

Now that you know who your audience is, you can try to find out what you can do to make them link to you. Find out why they have linked to other websites before, find out which of the principles of persuasion they are most likely sensitive to, etcetera. When it comes to mass link baiting, try to find out what moves the larger groups you want to reach (and their influencers), for example by learning more about them.

Analyzing for new ideas

Now it’s time to move on to the part where you can actually try to come up with good ideas. Finally.

I have explained a few brainstorming methods earlier, but here are a few additional tips.

Single target link bait brainstorming

This is the easiest to do. During your situation analysis, you have (hopefully) identified a few ‘link building must-haves’; websites that are highly authoritative in your niche, and which would be really valuable to add to your link profile. These websites should be worth it to put in some extra effort for, otherwise you’d have to target them either via a limited target link bait or a mass link bait.

Try to find out:

  • What the most relevant pages on their website are.
  • What kind of websites they’re currently linking to, and from what pages they link to them (for example via Bing’s linkfromdomain: command).
  • What kind of content they’re missing, or which content is incomplete or incorrect.
  • What kind of content is popular on relevant social media platforms, such as Delicious.

Mix these things up, match it with your audience, and try to come up with an idea.

Let’s do this with an example – let’s say you’re in internet marketing :). It shouldn’t be hard to find a few key influencers and websites that get linked to a lot in our industry. Like I mentioned before, guest posting would be an option, but you could also try a Cuttbait.

Limited target link bait brainstorming

Now you have to broaden your view a little bit. In stead of taking a look at just one target, you’ll have to look at multiple different targets at the same time, and look for commonalities. With relatively small groups, ego baiting (such as the earlier mentioned Top 100 list) can be very successful.

Try to find out:

  • What the most important influencers in your target group are. When one starts, the rest usually follows.
  • What (kind of) pages the majority of the target group links to.
  • What kind of content is popular on relevant social media platforms, preferably social niche websites.
  • What kind of websites the most important influencers in your target group currently are linking to, and from what pages they link to them.

Let’s use the same example again. Websites like Sphinn can help you to find even more important influencers, and you can keep an eye on link posts to find important websites and inspiring content. Asking people to help with research or creating an industry award could be good options. A quiz might work as well, but you’d be targeting a much bigger group with something like that.

Mass target link bait brainstorming

This is the easiest to do. During your situation analysis, you have (hopefully) identified a few ‘link building must-haves’; websites that are highly authoritative in your niche, and which would be really valuable to add to your link profile. These websites should be worth it to put in some extra effort for, otherwise you’d have to target them either via a limited target link bait or a mass link bait.

Try to find out:

  • What the most important influencers in your target group are. When one starts, the rest usually follows.
  • What pages/ websites the majority of these influencers links to.
  • What kind of content is popular on relevant social media platforms, such as Digg or StumbleUpon.
  • What kind of content, which is relevant to yours, has made it to leading news/ entertainment/ etc. websites.

Back to the example; broaden your view, and take a look at the tech section of the Guardian or WSJ, and find out what kind of content gets mentioned. Besides news related stuff, creating a bunch of useful tools, a much more general award, or developing a dozen or so great plugins could work perfectly also. Still not big enough? How about a layoff tracker?

Conclusion

Coming up with good ideas isn’t difficult, but finding the right idea that perfectly matches your situation can be pretty hard sometimes. Knowing what you need (authority, relevance or quantity) is important in this process. Not with getting more creative, but with helping you focusing on the right type of ideas, and therefore finding the right solution.

Please note: Just like with nearly anything related to marketing, there is no ‘scientifically proven method’; this is just how I look at things and try to get links. Do you have additions, or do you use an other approach? The comment entry field is down below ;)

16 Responses to “My Link Baiting Idea Generation Process”

  1. Ide December 15, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    Nice post! What gave you this idea ;)

  2. Wiep December 15, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    Thanks! I was just cleaning out the drafts, and this one had been waiting there to get finished & published for a few weeks ;)

  3. Curtis December 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm #

    These are great ideas! I’m constantly looking for new ideas. Keep them coming! By the way, you have one of the best blogs on link building I’ve seen in a long time. It’s really helped me in narrowing down the best strategies for my clients.

  4. freearticleforyou December 15, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    Very nice post and great idea’s. I think each strategy works different based on your site…actually doing it and trying it out can help you determine which strategy works best for your audience.

  5. G.weber | link building services December 16, 2009 at 1:56 am #

    Thank you for the excellent ideas that you shared. The directions are useful to me in dealing and trying to improve my strategies and ways of getting more websites to link mine.

  6. ll-tech December 16, 2009 at 4:22 am #

    Every success begins with a goal. The attainment of one’s success depends on the different strategies employed in the process. As such, mass link bait is considered the most important tool to reach many powerful audiences and a numerous website to link to yours. Thus, increasing popularity to your website.

  7. Wiep December 16, 2009 at 8:35 am #

    Thanks, I’m glad you all liked it :)

  8. iKnowBase December 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Hi. I liked what you wrote about “defining your audience” and “know what moves your audience”
    These are after my opinion two factors that website owners doens’t work too much with :)
    Great article!

  9. Jen December 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Another great post. I love that you talked about single target link bait. I think that it’s possible to become so consumed with quantity, that it’s easy to overlook the benefits of creating something specifically for a single target. With that approach, relationships also become much more of a factor which can increase the likelihood of actually getting the links your after.

  10. Oliver December 18, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    article writing and guest posting are great and easy link baiting techniques and my favorite! Great post.

  11. polar s625x heart rate monitor December 22, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    Without goals we are just wandering aimlessly without a destination where we want to reach. Is it not so?

  12. jillkocher January 29, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    Good explanation of the single, limited and mass targets for link bait. I haven’t seen it spelled out like that before and paired up with the hooks that work best for each.

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