7 Common Link Baiting Mistakes

Link baiting is a technique used to generate inbound links to your website. When done properly, this style of content will get you more links, better keyword relevance, improved online visibility, greater authority, and more trust from the search engines. With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that link baiting has become a staple in internet marketing. However, it’s easy to make mistakes when link baiting, effectively shooting yourself in the foot.

  1. Being Controversial for No Good Reason– If there was a yearly reward, then Wired Magazine’s Paul Boutin would be the de facto prize winner this year with his now infamous piece entitled Kill Your Blog. Remember that link bait doesn’t have to be synonymous with controversy. Sure, a great percentage of link bait is controversial content, but there are other styles of link baiting that work just as well (how-to’s, tools, resources, etc.) So, if you have a reason to be controversial, go right ahead. But if you’re just trying to stir the pot to generate some buzz, people will see right through your flame baiting ways.
  2. Not Understanding Your Audience– Another common link baiting mistake is the author not understanding his or her audience. Social media users are finicky individuals. If your link bait is aimed at going hot on Digg, Reddit, or another social media site, you need to write in a way that connects with them. If you don’t understand what they like, they’ll be all too happy to bury you.
  3. Failing to Deliver on Headline’s Promise– But it’s not enough to write a great headline; your next task is to deliver on your headline’s promise. Don’t trick your audience with a gimmick headline that doesn’t reflect the content in your post. Here’s an example. I recently clicked on an article offering 10 strategies on a particular subject. When I landed on the article, it had just 3 tips, and it said the rest of the list would be in a future post. Needless to say, I never went back.
  4. Not Knowing How to Promote Link Bait– Contrary to popular belief, great content doesn’t always go hot. It’s not enough to simply craft the perfect piece of link bait; you have to know how to promote it as well. The best thing you can do is to find someone well versed in social media marketing. Get to know someone who routinely gets content to go hot on the major social media sites, and you’ll significantly improve your chances of having a successful piece of link bait.
  5. Not Editing Your Content– Remember earlier when I said social media users are picky and have no problem burying you? Well, the quickest way to have them turn against you is to not edit your content. Whether you make silly grammatical errors or your information is just wrong, a poor editing job can kill your link bait’s chances of catching on. Don’t give people an extra incentive to bury your content.
  6. Having an Unreliable Web Host– Even if you don’t make any of the above mistakes, your link bait can still fail because of a bad hosting service. The last thing you want is for all of your hard work to be negated because your server crashes. Make sure your site is ready to survive the Digg effect before you publish and promote your content.
  7. Offering Nothing New– This perhaps is the most important item to remember; once you have hooked your audience you have to provide them with fresh new content. Think about this way: why would tons of people link to a post that’s been done multiple times before? If you don’t offer your readers something new, they won’t feel compelled to reward you with inbound links. Remember to put your unique stamp on your content.

The bottom line is even if you don’t make any of these mistakes, your link bait still might fail. It’s an inexact science that requires a long term commitment to be successful. But limiting your mistakes will increase your chances of generating more links to your website.

About Eric Brantner

You can follow Eric on Twitter at @Eric_Brantner.

12 Responses to 7 Common Link Baiting Mistakes

  1. Hi,

    A really interesting set of points. It really goes prove one point though, and that is never take your readers for granted and give them really well written content, because as you quite rightly point out they can quite easily find content elsewhere.




  2. Ant Onaf says:

    Great article. I think #4 is an important one, because many fail at their link baiting campaigns because of poor promotion. Many think you write a compelling article then submit it to a few article directories and social networks and you are on your way. WRONG! It usually doesn't work that easily, it takes time, effort, and strategy to get your content in front of the right set of eyes. You want to get your content in front of your target audience and industry leaders so that the content goes viral and spreads like wildfire. I would have to say that emailing your article/content directly to industry leaders is a good way to get noticed, but the content must be targeted and highly compelling (almost undeniable). If a person mixes in all of your above advice and distributes their content strategically to top industry leaders, then I think they may have a great link bait campaign. Great article again.

  3. Great tips! This is the first of many of ProBloggers link tweets that I clicked on. The last couple of weeks I've been thinking about the relevance of my post titles, how to bait people, and whether or not I WANT to! Sometimes I think the accurate title is better than the clever one. Your readers will like that.


  4. #6-

    Most people are like yeah right. I did a post and the Drudge Report linked to it—crash server…down six hours!

  5. Dora Crow says:

    I agree with Cathy T.'s comment that an accurate title is better than the "clever" one. There is so much on the web – you don't want to anger your readers by misleading them. They can quickly go elsewhere, never to return.

    By the way, I also found this valuable post via ProBlogger on Twitter!

  6. Zoey Jordan says:

    This is really helpful information. Ant makes a good point too, one I'd never thought of: emailing the content to industry leaders. Hmmm. I'd agree that it's not enough to just "tweet" your link or put it on the social media sites. You're likely to get lost in the stream of cyber chatter. I agree with Cathy that the headline being too clever might be a cute hook initially, but your readers are trusting you, and if you venture too far from their expectations, you're taking a big gamble.

  7. TonNet says:


    Bloggers work without any editor as large media companies do, there is where most of our mistakes fall into. Anyways, we will try to correct those mistakes so see if we can rank a bit better.

    Thanks for the great post and advice.

  8. yvette says:

    all your points are very good. I am new to this and I am learning all sorts of things of what not to do. Points 2,3,5,7 and 6 are what I like most. I don't know enough yet about bait linking but I will learn and refer back to this to remember what not to do. thanks for the advice


  9. Ken Acton says:

    Interesting post. If you are producing content that is genuine, good quality, well written, and of value then I guess you won't go far wrong. Something worth striving for.


  10. Excellent in-deph article Eric. This technique is mastered by very few and successful link baiting is more art than science. However, if you are lucky enough, you first attempt may bring the desired results.

    Point 6 is often learned by newbies when they see their site down after spike in traffic.

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  12. Linkbaiting encourage others to link to your website. Linkbait usually happens in your niche area. For example, I write the content writing, copywriting, and blogging on this blog, and if I write something really convincing, people are interested in those things that I want to connect to my post.