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How To Turn Link Posts Into Linkbait

Darren at ProBlogger has pointed out an insight from Andrew Garrett (no relation); “No-one links to the linkers”.

By deluding myself that being a human news filter I was adding value, I
was avoiding doing ‘real’ writing. Sure, I was writing a
bit here and there. but not enough to be a draw card.

Audiences are like governments – you get the one you deserve. I haven’t yet deserved an audience.

How ironic that I am using  this link as as a starting point for a post, hah. While I do agree with the sentiment I think it is worth digging into the subject a little further to add some insights I think I have learned about it from our experience here at Performancing but also Threadwatch where Nick and I had conversations about link posts before.

I actually follow one of Andrews blogs, Digital Shot, and I had noticed his link style of posting. If you look in his archives most of his posts are like this one; “here is something you might be interested in, here is what I think about it”. On other blogs I follow a similar pattern and for the most part Threadwatch was like that too. What is different about Andrews blogs where he feels they are not as successful as they could be?

There are quite a few reasons for Threadwatches success, primary I think is the knowledgeable and outspoken audience that Nick managed to attract, the comments were a draw as much or more than the post. So that is the first insight you can take away and it dovetails nicely with Andrews comment that you need an audience first, to a point. Only Threadwatch was like that from the start so there must be another element missing.

The second element I think must be is the link the content or is the commentary the content? If all you are doing is sending people away, as Andrew suspects, then you need to tweak your style somewhat.

At Threadwatch many of the posts were

  • informative
  • inflammatory
  • funny
  • unique
  • useful

Think about this for a bit then figure out how they follow Nicks “Linkbait hooks”. You can link to news, you can link to something just to complain or make fun of it, you can point to something useful or point to something people should be aware of. You can do these things and make a linkable post providing the link is just the start, the rest needs to come from you and that part is the Linkbait.

Many of the useful posts were formed in a “here is some news, here is a tip about it” way. By taking a piece of news and imparting some valuable advice the posts became doubly informative; something you didn’t know that was happening AND what to do about it. These sorts of posts gave the audience a competitive advantage.

Unique is an important one; if you are the original source of the link you will get linked to as a “via”, well, by ethical bloggers anyway. Look at BoingBoing, no shortage of inbound links there right? That is because every day you can count on them to link to great stuff before anyone else. If they do link to something already being linked to I don’t care, I can just read one blog and see everything worth seeing. People link to the blog probably as much as individual posts.

If you can’t find unique content to link to then you need to make your post unique content. Rather than “go look at this” have more of “this gave me an idea, here it is”. I hope that is evident in the post you are reading! Another related approach is instead of linking to one resource create a page full on the same topic, gather together all the content you can on the subject so your post becomes the definitive launch point for it.

My final piece of advice is about your motivation for using this style and I don’t think I really need to spell out my thinking. Are you posting this way to save time or because you believe your posts will be useful?

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Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

7 thoughts on “How To Turn Link Posts Into Linkbait

  1. I am curious industrywide if the term “linkbait” has a positive or negative connotation. I have heard people scoff at “linkbaiting” while others praise it as long as the information is good content. Is “linkbaiting” bad?

  2. Well indeed that is very true,you sure need an audience! The higher number of comments and higher the pressure to bring quality next time. But how to attract such mass audience, not always back links will do it for you,, you need to make people read your content and how viral things can get with word of mouth there is no comparison. Therefore quality content is a must.

    Altaf
    Clog Blog

  3. Well I for one would like to see you keep it going Andrew and I think you have worked out how to do linkbait now, you managed to get a couple of good links, hah

  4. Hi Chris – nice to know that we’re reading each other’s photography sites

    Thanks for building on my post – your additions have given me some food for thought on the subject.

    I think the core idea that it took me so long to learn was that I had to be visibly adding value, or it wasn’t worth posting. There’s nothing wrong, as you suggest, with getting the kernel of an idea from someone else, and building that out (or disagreeing with it, or making a joke about it, or whatever) into a real post. There’s also value that can be realised in aggregating ‘best of’ information – I tend to do that on Digital Shot when a new DSLR has just been released – aggregate the various reviews (under the rationale that my readers are better served by me doing that, than just regurgitating them in my own words).

    Anyhow – this sort of stuff is still a work in progress in my slow-moving brain – more to come on the subject, I’m sure.

  5. If you can’t find unique content to link to then you need to make your post unique content. Rather than “go look at this” have more of “this gave me an idea, here it is”… Another related approach is instead of linking to one resource create a page full on the same topic, gather together all the content you can on the subject so your post becomes the definitive launch point for it.

    Both of the above methods lead to types of blog posts I like to read. I also like to write them. Not because they’re easy, but because they allow me to both inform, provide unique commentary, and give props. They still take research – a lot of research.

    As a former print reviewer, I had material (books, CDs) in my hand to review and discuss. When it comes to the Internet, it’s not as easy to get merch to review. It is, however, legitimate to use one of the above methods to provide your UNIQUE take on topics and gadgets and software that everyone and their hamster is already writing about.

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