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In my humble opinion the three most important factors in SEO are:

1) Fixing technical issues

2) Writing great SEO copy

3) Increasing the number of links to your site

This article focuses on the last of those three factors, outlining a number of ways you can generate links to your pages or ‘link juice’. Put simply, the more links you have (especially from well-linked sites) the greater your visibility and Search Engine rankings become.

So how do you lure users to your site? You can generate your own links by submitting to sites like Digg, Reddit and Buzz but then you have to get other users to recommend you so that your profile grows.  Alternatively you can approach other sites individually and ask for links, or visit related blogs and offer comments.

But the best way to generate links is to create link-worthy content or Link Bait.

Link-worthy content

When attempting to create the most link-worthy content it’s important to think outside the box and create something that is truly different, unique or revolutionary.

A single, exciting piece of content can be worth a small fortune in terms of traffic and exposure. Better still, the links you earn with an exciting piece of content stay with your site for a long time, providing search visibility long after the event itself has been forgotten.

Here are two examples of Link Bait from my own site:

–       No I won’t pay $3.99 to use Facebook, but I might pay $3.95

This editorial article responded to a topic that was current and controversial and as a result my site received a boost in traffic. The article has so far recorded over 2000 unique page views.

–       How to write a copy deck in five easy steps

This ‘How to’ article offers a concise overview of copy deck creation and has achieved over 4000 unique visits. It was so successful that to this day if you type ‘copy deck’ into Google this article will appear in the first three listings.

My Top Nine Link Bait ideas

Here are some ideas to help build the content you need to generate great links.

  • Top Ten lists
    Numbered lists of tips, links, resources, etc. are a great way to generate buzz. They’re succinct, easy to digest and often prompt debate. If you can’t think of ten things to include in your list, try nine.
  • Contests and competitions
    Giving away prizes or public awards can get a lot of users interested and linking. Having worked on a number of competition sites I’ve found the smaller the price the bigger the uptake, probably due to the perception that smaller prizes are more ‘winnable’.
  • Free tools
    Automated tools that query data sources, combine information or conduct useful calculations are very link worthy. Examples include mortgage calculators, BMI calculators and site-checking tools.
  • Link resources
    If you can’t develop your own tools then the next best thing is linking to tools that already exist. If your site becomes known as a hub for information about your chosen area, users will visit again and again
  • Reviews
    Industry gatherings – from pubcrawls to conferences to speeches and seminars – can all generate great links with a well-done review. Write professionally as a journalist, and attempt to use as many full names as possible. It’s also wise to link out to anyone you mention as they will see the links in their referral logs and possibly visit your site.
  • Interviews with industry insiders
    Anyone in an industry whose name frequently appears in that industry’s press is a great candidate for an interview. Even if it’s a few short questions over email, a revealing interview can be a great source of links. In addition, when a user searches for that individual your site could rank.
  • Surveys
    Offering large collections of data culled from polling individuals, an online survey, or simply researching and aggregating data can provide a very link-worthy resource.
  • Be controversial
    If you post a blog that evokes a response (whether it is positive or negative) you can see a great boost in traffic. The number of comments a blog receives adds to a site’s overall SEO score, so try to write content that prompts debate.
  • Be current
    If you can jump on a particular bandwagon quickly you can reap the rewards. If your industry is a buzz with stories about a new product or service, your related blog story could win some of the traffic.

There are of course dozens of other great ways to get bloggers, writers, and website editors to add links to your site. Just look at your content with a critical eye. Is it self indulgent waffle that only your mum would read or a useful, current, interesting, well researched piece of content? If you can answer yes to the second question, it qualifies as link-bait

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