What the heck is Link Baiting?

A few days ago, in conversation with one of the senior partners in our company, I heard the term “link baiting”.
My immediate reaction was, “what’s that?” “It’s the latest buzzword in Search Engine Optimization. Actually, we’ve been doing it for years now, in fact, it harks back to our days in advertising”, said my senior partner, with a smile.

“Then how come I haven’t heard about it”, I replied.

Years now, back to our days in advertising. I thought for a few seconds.

“The only thing I remember bringing from my advertising days was how to communicate effectively”, I said.

“That’s exactly what it is”, he answered, his face brightening up. “Remember, those punchy headlines you write?”

I nodded.

“That’s what link baiting is all about – gaining attention and engaging people with your brand, online somewhat ingeniously”, he continued.

“Now, there are two ways of doing it. Both the routes involve using catchy headlines and good content.

One is, using the teaser headline route like ‘Holy Cow, 859 Content Management Systems and counting’.

And the other way to do it is by creating controversy, for instance, ‘The Open Source Movement is a load of crap’.

The idea here is to say something that invites a lot of attention, comments, etc and laugh your way to the page rankings table. The attack can be on things, or for better effect, on people too.

“Man, it’s so simple!” I said.

“Yes, it is”, he replied, “provided you do it correctly. For even when you’re trying to generate a controversy, you must be able to support it with a suitable argument. Not merely create a controversy that dies out in a few days. The important thing is to keep people engaged in a conversation with your brand.

There’s another way of developing online publicity, it’s called drink baiting”, he went on.

“Drink baiting? Does that mean inviting people over for a drink?” I asked.

“In a way, yes. But remember, back in our days in advertising we went out with colleagues and friends for a drink and discussed ads that we liked or hated? In the same way, a website’s content can be discussed by people in the same geography who contribute to the blog discussion over drinks, offline. Like in a local pub etc. So you see, it’s Social Networking and online promotion at work?”

“Great!” I blurted. “This is something we’ve been doing for years, now. The only thing, thanks to the WWW, the word spreads over geographies and people from across the world engage in your brand.”

“Now how about an article on this?” he winked.

To learn more about link baiting, I suggest you go here.

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