By now, you should know about the benefits of building a strong link profile for your website.  But you should also know that there are good ways and bad ways to do it.  One of the ways to build links to your website is something called “link baiting.”  Even the name suggests something sinister, but before we delve into that, maybe we’d better first define what link bait is. A good example is a photo or news story that’s shared by a large group of people across a social network such as Facebook.

Link bait is content on the Web that generates links. It can be a photo, blog, news story, video, or anything else for that matter. But link bait is online content that gathers attention by being linked to by users. For example, if you read or see something that you find interesting and you share it on your social networks, you make that content link bait.

Link bait is one of the biggest motivators in social media activity. It’s what makes people want to share interesting online tidbits with their friends, family, coworkers and other online connections. But the deal with link bait is that there are two different kinds: Good link bait and Bad link bait.

First, let’s talk about Good link bait. Good link bait is original content that the creator can not only be proud of, but willing to share with others. This is work that cannot be found anywhere else on the internet, unless plagiarized. An example of good link bait would be a concert review. That article is about a specific event that is specific to a time and place. And if it gains a lot of attention by people linking to it from various platforms, it is link bait … the right kind of link bait … the good kind.

Good link bait is usually helped by a steady following. Content like this may be uniquely creative, but without a following, it might not go anywhere. Developing an online following is a great step in ensuring that users link back to specific content.

Now, let’s discuss Bad link bait. This is where things get a little foggy because sometimes it’s hard to tell what bad link bait is but we’re here to help! Bad link bait is when someone creates something or does something intentionally to get a community to link back to them. This can be something as simple as someone posting a comment in a Reddit thread that not only is attempting to anger the thread’s readers, but also linking back to the writer’s own personal blog. In short, bad link bait links attention by doing something negative to get those results.

A specific example of bad link bait would be if someone wrote, published, and promoted a blatantly libelous blog about a celebrity just to get their site more hits. This is the worst way to market yourself.

Caution: There is also good link bait that looks like bad link bait. Take the Reddit thread example again, but instead of someone deliberately angering the thread’s readers, a user with a point of view contrary to the rest of the thread posts a link back to his blog. This might look like bad link bait, but it’s not and can be controversial to readers.

It’s important to make sure that you are not using negative link baiting to gain traffic. Not only does this only result in short-term gains, but it can be damaging to your reputation. And a damaged reputation is a lot harder to fix than it is to uphold an already solid, trustworthy one. So, let’s be careful out there when we’re creating online persona.

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