Links are still a major ranking factor for search engine optimization.

The more high-quality links you can get to your website, the better your chances of ranking higher in SERPS.

But, how do you go about getting those backlinks?

Here’s where link baiting comes into play.

By producing content that is specifically designed to attract links, you can improve your SEO efforts without breaking a sweat.

In today’s guide, we’ll tell you all about link baiting, why it works so well, and give you 5 brilliant examples of how to do it.

Let’s start with the basics.

Link baiting is the process of drawing in and engaging potential linkers through link-worthy material.

Essentially, you’re creating something that is so useful or entertaining, or thought-provoking that people can’t help but share it with their audience.

By creating content that people want to share, you can significantly increase your chances of gaining backlinks.

For instance, let’s say you own a pet shop and want to attract some links.

You may create a viral video of the most popular dog breeds in each state, share some fun facts about dogs, or simply interview a famous dog owner.

Anything that will catch your reader’s eye and make them want to share it with their audience.

This will make them more likely to share and link to your content.

Why Does Link Baiting Work So Well?

Link baiting content attracts links by design. It’s all about producing content that’s inherently “linkable.” Thus, getting the link is the natural aftermath of the process.

Instead of playing a numbers game and hoping someone links to your content, you’re going straight for the jugular.

You design the strategy before even creating the content, so you know exactly what to create and who to share it with.

It’s a far more targeted and efficient approach to link building.

For example, take a look at Canva’s Color Palette Generator. 

Canva's color palette generator

This page alone has racked up 938 backlinks from over 400 unique domains.

Instead of just creating a piece of content, Canva built a helpful tool.

Better yet, this tool is free.

This is link baiting in its purest expression. 

By creating assets that are inherently linkable, you’re more likely to attract the attention of your audience, leading to more links, more clicks, and more sales. 

Successful Link bait will help you improve your rankings on Google, and drive more organic traffic – so it’s highly important.

This will happen in a few ways. 

Firstly, links are still an extremely important ranking factor, and as Semrush’s 2024 ranking study found even though content quality should be your north star – your overall domain authority plays a large role in determining ranking ability. 

Secondly, link bait is a good way of acquiring (and naturally earning) links at scale. If you are solely relying on more time consuming link building tactics like guest posting, it does make the process less efficient. It may be necessary if you need to get links to commercial pages. However, when you can leverage a really good link bait piece, you can get a higher volume in a shorter period of time, because of how much audience interest and editorial value is attached to it. And some link bait pieces tend to just attach links naturally, without you doing outreach. Outreach can help increase the velocity of link acquisition though.

Thirdly, even if the link bair piece is quite top of the funnel, you can still squeeze out a bit more benefit from it. If you internally link to other pages (like your medium or bottom of funnel content), that link equity can pass from the link bait page, down to those other pages. And then the rankings of those pages will improve.

Rank boring pages with smart internal linking

Now that you understand what link baiting is, let’s get to the fun part.

I’ve put together 5 brilliant examples of link bait that you can use as inspiration and reference.

1. Industry Awards

Running industry awards and creating a badge for winners can help you attract quality backlinks.

Backlinko founder, Brian Dean, coined this strategy as “Ego bait” because it appeals to people’s egos.

People are inherently selfish.

They enjoy being recognized for their achievements.

Thus, when you hold an award ceremony and include a badge that they can share on their website, it makes them look good.

They will want to share this badge with their audience.

This way, you can build valuable, high-quality links to your site.

NerdWallet’s Best awards are a great example of this strategy in action.

NerdWallet and other publications in the sector, regularly name the best credit cards that offer cash back bonuses.

best credit cards of 2024

If you win one of these awards, you get a badge you can share with your audience.

They are a well-known brand in the finance space. That’s why winners are eager to share their badges with their readers.

Active cash card rewards

Now, keep in mind that industry awards don’t always work, especially if you’re in a competitive industry, like finance.

If you’re a single blogger running a personal finance blog, you probably won’t get the same results as NerdWallet.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to get people excited about your work.

For instance, if you own a blog for freelance writers, you may want to run a contest.

Give out awards like “The best blog post about saving money” or “Most original resource for freelancers.”

These kinds of awards allow you to build relationships and prove your expertise in the industry.

Similarly, if you run a dog training blog, you can create an award like “most influential dog trainer.”

People will want to show off their badges on their websites and social profiles.

The idea is to create a contest that taps into people’s sense of self-worth but also reinforces your authority.

2. Debunk Popular Beliefs

By debunking a popular belief, especially if you do it with data, you can create controversy and attract lots of attention.

Think about it: when Stephen Colbert started his satirical show, “The Colbert Report,” he was looking to stand out.

He decided to create a character that would upset the status quo.

The rest, as they say, is history.  “The Colbert Report” ended up being one of the most successful shows in the history of Comedy Central.

When you debunk popular beliefs, you’re tapping into people’s emotions.  It can be controversial and angry, or humorous and lighthearted.

But it always gets attention because people are interested in hearing the other side of the story.

This “other side” doesn’t have to be 100% accurate.

But you can use statistics, research studies, and evidence to bring the other side of the story to life.

To give you an idea, check out this post from Social Triggers. It’s called “The content is king myth debunked.”

The post is just over 300 words long.

Still, it has racked up 500+ backlinks from 198 referring domains.

Ahrefs dashboard screenshot of Social Triggers post on "Content is King Myth"

That’s a pretty good page-level backlink profile for such a small piece of content.

Derek Halpern understood that people crave information that challenges the status quo.

So he created a piece of content that would get people talking and sharing.

The idea of “content is king” was so prevalent in the marketing industry that it was considered gospel.

Halpern’s post took people by surprise because it completely challenged everything they knew about marketing.

The post was both controversial and provocative. That’s why it generated so much buzz and landed tons of backlinks.

Next time you need to generate attention, ask yourself:

  • What myths does my audience believe?
  • How can I use data, research, and evidence to prove them wrong?
  • What’s the other side of the story?
  • How can I bring this story to life in a way that surprises people and creates controversy?

By answering these questions, you can create content that’s original, surprising, and linkworthy.

3. Publish Original Research

Publishing surveys, stats, and research that taps into what people care about can be a great way to attract backlinks.

The key is to create data that’s useful, actionable, and compelling.

For instance, if you run a parenting blog, you might want to collect data about the best child care centers in your area.

You can then publish this data in an infographic. Or you can turn it into a survey and ask people to vote for their favorite child care center.

In either case, you’ll have a map of your area’s best child care centers, which can be a useful resource for parents.

If you own an SEO agency, you can publish data about the most effective SEO strategies for local businesses.

You might even attract links from other marketing blogs.

For example, Brian Dean published a research study called “We Analyzed 2.6 Billion Articles. Here’s What We Learned About Evergreen Content.

The report was packed with original research, revealed industry secrets, and provided actionable tips.

As a result, Brian has 291 backlinks from 165 referring domains.

Ahrefs dashboard screenshot of Backlinko's post on "Evergreen content"

Here’s another example from Monday.com

In this case, monday.com’s team just collated and organized data that was already available.

But even this straightforward approach led to over 620 backlinks from 203 referring domains— not bad for a simple list post.

Ahrefs screenshot showing backlink profile of Monday's post on project management statistics

Data-driven lists can be a great way to attract backlinks if you’re sharing helpful information that people love.

The point is to find data that’s relevant to your industry.

Then, present that information in a way that’s easy to navigate, share, and reference.

4. Create the Most Complete Guide Ever

People love guides.

They’re easy to read and understand, and they usually contain a lot of actionable tips.

If you can create the most thorough and up-to-date resource around a particular topic, you’ll definitely attract attention.

The best way to do this is by creating a monster guide that covers every possible question and use case you can think of.

This guide must be so good that people will reference it instead of writing their own blog posts.

Now, selecting your topic is just half the battle.

You also need to choose the right audience.

Instead of targeting everyone in your niche, you should select a specific group of people and speak directly to them.

This is also known as “linkable audience.”

For instance, if you run a travel blog, you might want to write a guide that targets newbie backpackers.

Or if you manage a food blog, you could write the ultimate guide for people who are passionate about gourmet cooking.

The more specific your audience is, the easier it will be to convince them of your authority.

Once you’ve selected your group, you’ll need to find out what questions they have about the topic.

Then, simply write down the answers in a guide.

You can turn this guide into an epic blog post or even a monster ebook.

The point is to be the only resource that people trust for information on your chosen topic.

For example, take a look at this guide named “The Big List of Hot Peppers”.

This was a very comprehensive guide to different types of peppers, their Scoville ratings and tips about how each one tastes – and attracted over 305 backlinks from 171 unique domains.

Cayenne Diane post on "Big list of hot peppers" getting 171 referring domains

This works because you’re still staying relevant to your target audience, and it establishes you as an authority  – giving your readers a massive shortcut to finding the information they’re looking for.

5. Create a Useful Tool and Give It Away

Sometimes, link building is about giving more than you take.

Instead of just asking for a link, you can work on building something that makes people’s lives easier.

For instance, Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is a keyword research platform you can use to find content ideas and SEO opportunities.

Ubersuggest SEO tool by Neil Patel

It’s free, easy to use, and saves people time.

At time of writing, Ubersuggest has collected 60,000 backlinks from ~20,000 unique domains.

Growth Tools is another great example.

Growth tools provide you with free tools to write copy, grow your list, create lead magnets, and more.

GoViral, a viral content distribution platform, is the latest project from the team at Growth Tools.

To date, it has collected more than 4,000 backlinks from more than 500 unique domains.

GoViral's backlink profile

So if you’re looking for an easy way to attract attention and build authority, try creating a free tool and giving it away.

After all, the more people you help, the more likely they are to mention you.

We’ve talked about some of the different types of link bait you can create. 

But regardless of what you create and what area it covers, it’s important to keep some (or all) of the following concepts in mind, if you want that link bait to actually be effective.

Link Bait that is Visually Appealing

If you want to stand a higher chance of the reader becoming a “linker”, you need them to land on the page, and have a good user experience.

Only if they have a good experience, will they be willing to link to it, knowing that their audience will likely have a good experience as well. 

Now, when it comes to ultimate guides, it could be as simple as breaking up the text with images and following good UX practice. 

But sometimes, if it’s a piece with a particularly large amount of information, you may want to display that info, in an easily consumable format. 

Here’s an example of an interactive map from Candystore.com – “Most Popular Halloween Candy”, which has over 1,500 referring domains.

Interactive map "Most popular halloween candy" by Candystore.com

Link Bait that is Newsworthy

Journalists are always looking for stories that are top of mind in the newsroom, so having a link bait piece that incorporates a newsworthy element will pay off, if you are particularly trying to earn links from the media.

ResumeBuilder ran a survey of 1,000 company decision-makers, to find out how many were planning to have all employees return to the office. 

ResumeBuilder survey of 1000 companies showing 90% of companies will return to office by end of 2024

This one page has over 500 sites linking to it, with many of it from top tier media sites.

500 referring domains pointing to the survey from ResumeBuilder

Link Bait that Tells a Story

It’s in our very nature as humans, to be empathic – and gravitate towards stories of other people. 

Upworthy told the story of Zach Sobiech, a 14 year old who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and who decided to embark on a journey as a musician – going on to release song that became the first independent hit to reach #1 on the iTunes music charts. 

Upworthy's post telling the story of Zach Sobiech
Zach Sobiech

It received over 200 referring domains at the time, including links from top tier media sites like Forbes, and thousands of social shares.

Link Bait that Evokes Emotions

If your link bait can evoke some kind of emotion – be it shock, surprise, happiness, deep reflection, anger – the more likely it’ll grab the attention of a large enough audience, and compel people to link to it. 

You may have heard of the article “13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful”. The original article was actually from someone called Zdravko Bato Cvijetic. 

13 Things you should give up if you want to be successful

Not only does it have a storytelling aspect to it – but it actually touches the emotions of the reader, as it describes points that they probably don’t like about themself. 

This became one of Medium’s most viral stories, gained over 200 referring domains – and added over 100,000 email subscribers to the authors list.

Link Bait that is Interactive or Practical

Having a link bait that the user can engage with, and even use practically, can really enhance the appeal further. 

In fact, if the piece has a broad enough practical use, and you can keep it updated – you’ll be able to leverage it for years to come, and probably pick up natural links quite easily as well. 

Here’s an interactive map created by WineCellarDoor.co.uk, which shows all the vineyards across England and Wales, and gives further information about each one when you click on it.

Interactive map created by WineCellarDoor.co.uk, showing all the vineyards across England and Wales

A modest, 23 referring domains at time of writing, but it’s likely to be a really practical tool that wine-loving tourists will be using for a long time.

Conclusion

Link baiting is a great way to attract attention and drive traffic, but it only works if you have something valuable to share.

Use these 5 brilliant link baiting ideas to make your posts more likely to attract links and encourage sharing.

If you need help creating a killer resource, we can help.

Seriously, just reach out and we’ll talk about how to attract links using content marketing.