Linkbait – Chumming for Traffic on Social Media Sites

After a quick break, Danny Sullivan is moderating with speakers Brent Csutoras (, Jane Copland (SEOmoz) and Cameron Olthuis (Factive Media). I almost want to misspell Jane’s last name as “Copeland” because I know everyone else does. I guess I’ll spell it right. Jane is my favorite Mozzer, after all, but don’t tell Rebecca, okay?

We’re getting a demo of SocialSpark. I’m not blogging this.

Danny asks how many people read Search Engine Land. How many use Sphinn? How many have been to SMX before? And how many read SEOmoz? Um, hello? Which one of those doesn’t belong? Sigh.

Up first is my buddy Jane Copland. Danny calls her Jane Copeland. See!

Linkbait is Web-based content created for the purpose of attracting attention and links. It achieves increased visibility, brand recognition, returning visitors, brand association and increased links. Linkbait posts can rank very well for their targeted terms. Links to just one page can help strengthen an entire site.

“Traditional” linkbait is quite easy to produce. She talks about the winners of the I Look Like My Dog contest and In Case of Zombies, Break Glass. The real trick is to create highly-relevant, link-worthy content. Relevant subject matter, nicely presented and that uses a traditional linkbait format.

Why do social media sites pick up linkbait content so easily? Because it’s easy to digest.

Tactics for Creative Relevant linkbait

  1. Envision potential industry oddities.
  2. Consider the issues faced by your potential customers
  3. Subtly encourage the use of keywords and people will link to you with the “right” anchor text.
  4. Present your regular content, but in a creative, unique way

Want to “hide” your linkbait from regular users but still reap its benefits? You don’t need to link to the bait from the site’s home page, but make sure to link to the home page from the bait (hee). One “danger”: Your bait becoming an indented result in the SERPs.

Real life examples: got smart with some linkbait featuring 9 “geeky” weddings. The site sells a range of wedding invitations and everyone linking to this page will want to use the words “wedding” or “weddings”.’s “Are you a Rebel or a Yankee?” speech test should have included a results badge that people could display. Instead, they opted for the very 1.0 “Send to Friend” option.

And before Jane goes, you should know.

  1. Linkbait’s goal is to attract attention and not all attention is positive.
  2. Of her dozen “real life” examples, seven of them were found by surfing Reddit and StumbleUpon.
  3. Great linkbait will usually get the attention it deserves, but if it doesn’t, it still serves as fresh, unique content.

Brent Csutoras is up next.

All other things come with links – branding, traffic, sales, etc.

Categories of Linkbait

  • Top 10 Lists: Extremely effective. They’re starting to get a cliché where the “top 10” tends to be negative. You won’t have as much success as you could have 6 months ago. He suggests mixing it up. You can get the same point across by saying the Ten Best Ways To Do X instead of the Top Ten Ways To Do X.
  • How-To Baits: Be helpful. Make sure it is easy to read and visually appealing. It has to be worthwhile. It’s only effective if people care about what you’re explaining.
  • Current Events: You have to act fast and be accurate. You don’t have time to run it through your PR department. Bad information will get your content killed.
  • Offbeat or Extreme: There’s nothing more effective. Everyone loves something that’s weird. It’s also the hardest to get approved by your company. You also have to make sure you’re not breaking the social site’s Terms of Service. Violating that can get you banned.
  • Image/Video: Images and video engage your audience. Use them within posts and be unique. Images posts will jump twice as fast to the front page as text content because they’re less intimidating.

Crafting a Social Linkbait

Research: Content creation is the most important part of your linkbait campaign. Your content has to perform. It has to get the links. Use Google to search Digg and Reddit by using a site search. It helps you dig (heh) into the content a little deeper.

Title and Description: The most important thing you can do with your content is title it appropriately. You can create titles that have the keywords in there even if they’re not necessarily related to what you’re trying to push. Don’t get too clever or crafty with your titles. Make it short and sweet and to the point. It should be focused and have a point so that it tells people what your content is about immediately. Capitalizing the first letter of each word can help it stand out from the crowd and get someone to click on it.

Interact and Share: Once you create the content, you’re going to submit it to a social community. You’re going to think you’re done but you’re not. You have to follow your piece and interact with it. If someone comes in and buries it, you have to make sure that doesn’t start a trend of others doing the same thing. Follow the comments, participate. Get your friends to leave positive comments. Once you actually submit to a social media site, you’re no longer worried about anything but votes. If you have to throw in a link to more information to get users excited, do it. The social news site all say they hate gaming, but they provide options that allow the activity. Like Diggs, “shout” feature, for example. These features are in place for a purpose. Use them.

Social Media Tips

  • Relate to community
  • Check what worked before
  • Offer a summary
  • Use Images
  • Be link worthy
  • No spelling errors, jargon mistakes or bad information
  • Limit Ads – social media is not about conversions. It’s about links, branding and reach. Not converting.
  • Submit at the right time
  • Don’t dupe
  • Digg Effect

Be social. Get involved. Go out into the communities and learn from them.

Next up is Cameron Olthuis who is looking mighty tanned. I’m jealous.

He’s going to go over case studies. He speaks fast and kind of mumbles.

He talks about how he got Kevin Rose to link to him. Apparently it’s surfing related. Volcom put on a contest for anyone who could do a kick-flip on a surfboard. Cameron saw that no one had submitted that content to Digg. They blogged it and submitted it.

Cameron asks how many people are liveblogging this session. Seems like I’m the only one. Cameron gives me the link and anchor text he’d like me to use on his article. Hee! I was too busy laughing to write it down but you can find the volcom kick-flip article on Cam’s site. (Happy, Cameron?) He says he got the link from Kevin Rose when they talked about it on Digg Nation and linked to it later.

Batteries: They had a client who sold batteries and needed to get him links. They brainstormed how to come up with ideas. The first thing he did was to go to Delicious, Digg, etc and typed in his keyword to see what the social community has found appealing. He can go through a list and see which have the most bookmarks and get ideas for content based on that.

They decided to create an article called 20 Tips To Get More Juice From Your Laptop Battery. The content was successful because it was a list.

Tips on Submitting Content

  • Use a power account: This makes a huge difference.
  • Submit at optimal time: Tuesday – Thursday around 10:30am PST
  • Good title and description
  • Proper category
  • Use images or video
  • Leverage your network to get more Diggs: Keep it natural, don’t send people directly to Digg page, mix it up, only 1 Digg per IP, spread it out, have a few people comment and shout it if you have to. Almost nothing gets to the home page by itself anymore.


  • Come up with really good ideas that will be useful to your target audience
  • Format your content so its social media friendly
  • Properly submit with a good account
  • Leverage your network properly
  • Wash, rise, repeat
  • Collect links, smile

Cameron says every time he gets a good link he likes to smile. Hee.

Question and Answer

Danny calls me out and tells everyone that I’m liveblogging and name drops the URL. He says I twittered that Bruce Clay’s liveblogging wasn’t getting enough attention. I never said that! Lies! Blasphemy! [Thanks, Danny! –Susan]

How can you get your site in Yahoo Buzz?

Danny: You have to be special. You have to know someone.

How do you feel about Digg, Reddit, etc buttons on the post page?

Cameron: He does it on a case-by-case basis. He doesn’t include them on all the posts. He only puts them on article he’s really trying to push.

Jane: One of the saddest things you can see is a site that uses Digg buttons on every post when most of them have 0 or 1 Diggs. It gives the indication that the site really sucks. You have to choose on a case-by-case basis.

Brent: You don’t have to show a Digg user a Digg button. Digg has made a huge effort to start promoting the use of buttons on their sites. They’re very big right now about page views. He thinks that means they’re trying to sell. He believes the highest value Digg comes from someone who clicks on a Digg button.

How much do you charge to get content on a viral site?

Cameron: He hears people do a flat rate for a campaign, not per piece. He throws out a number: $5,000 and up (a month) for a social media campaign.

Brent seems to agree with that.

Linkbait for images: Are there any copyright issues?

Brent: He’s not a lawyer. He doesn’t know. If someone tells him that he stole their image and they want it taken down, he’ll do it. It’s hard to put ownership on an image. (Um, is it?) People do it until someone asks them to take it down.

Jane: Use it until you get asked to take it down. She’s never been asked to take anything down.

Danny adds a touch of common sense by saying just because you found it on Google doesn’t mean you can take it. Right on, Danny. [Yeah, I’m not a fan of the “it’s not stealing until you get caught” camp. Just use your own images or ask for permission, okay? –Susan]

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (3)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing
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3 Replies to “Linkbait – Chumming for Traffic on Social Media Sites”

Now, now, Brent, you’re all very pretty. :)

And quiet, Becs. You can’t tell me who to love.

You know her fav is Cameron. He is the only one got a link out of it. :(

Eff you. I’m your favorite SEOmozzer and you know it.


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