10 Extraordinary Examples of Effective Link Bait

Posted by jrcooper

Despite what most SEOs will tell you, it’s not easy to create outstanding content that people will want to link to. So many “SEOs” make it seem like there’s a key on your keyboard that magically turns what you just wrote into something link worthy. In reality, it’s never that simple.

I'm not one to keep throwing mud at the wall until it sticks. You can continuously tell someone to go create exceptional content, or you can actually show them an example. Because, being the sensible person I am, I'd rather choose the second option, here are 10 fantastic examples of link bait and what makes them so spectacular.

Note: PA stands for Page Authority, LRD stands for linking root domains, and TL stands for total links. Also, I didn't include .gov, .edu, or any other pieces of link bait from SEOmoz besides the first one below. The same goes for .edu and .gov sites.


1. SEOmoz’s Search Ranking Factors – PA: 91. LRD: 2,727. TL: 17,750.

What is it?

This is an article on the different search ranking factors by your very own SEOmoz. With yearly updates, 132 contributors, and roughly 20 pages of content on one URL, this gives information on what search engines are measuring in order to rank websites. If you call yourself an SEO and you haven't read this, then I suggest you quietly open this up, read it twice, and hope no one noticed.

Why was it so successful?

This link bait was highly successful because of the visualizations, depth of content, the trust of the contributors involved, and the website it was hosted on (SEOmoz is very influential in the SEO community). While the content is great, there's also a far greater reason for all of the links: SEOmoz didn’t do the promotion; the contributors did. In the future, this should be your go to example for creating a collaborative study.


2. Xkcd's Radiation Dose Chart – PA: 88. LRD: 988. TL: 5,863.

What is it?

This is a chart about the radiation a person absorbs from various sources. This is a great way to visualize how much radiation poisoning you can get from things like airplane flights, x-rays, and CT scans.

Why was it successful?

Being able to visualize something that's hard to grasp is one of your best friends when creating link bait. By using tiny blocks to put together just how many "siverts" are in these different sources of radiation, this chart makes this concept very easy to understand. The key takeaway here is that if you can get people to understand your content, and actually read it all, the likelihood of them sharing and linking to it increases dramatically.


3. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch – PA: 86. LRD: 631. TL: 9,149.

What is it?

If you ever need a guide on what seafood to choose based on where you live or travel, this is your go to place. You can choose to download eight different regional guides, with two of them also available in Spanish.

Why was it so successful?

The main reason this was so successful was because of the outright awesome information these guides provide. They’re updated regularly (most recently July 2011) and they’re free for anyone that wants them. It also doesn’t hurt to have a top notch interactive map to help you choose the guide best for you.


4. SEOBook’s 101 Link Popularity Tips – PA: 84. LRD: 723. TL: 2,843.

What is it?

Created by Aaron Wall & Andy Hagans, this is a list of 101 different link building strategies, and even though it’s over five years old, it still provides some of the best link building tips on the Web. To add a little humor, the last 30 tips are bad ways to build links.

Why was it successful?

Everyone loves lists. It’s that simple. It got traction in the right community, it’s easy to read, and it’s on a subject that people want to know about.


5. Mark Nottingham’s RSS Tutorial – PA: 83. LRD: 540. TL: 7,033.

What is it?

Published in 2005, this was and still is the go to resource to find out more about why your blog should be utilizing an RSS feed. It gives detailed analysis and can be translated to Brazilian and Portuguese (see links at the bottom).

Why was it successful?

When this was published, the post gave in-depth information on a relatively unexplored subject that people wanted to know about. It also provides ready-to-go snippets of code, making the content very actionable. On another note, one reason for its success that you might have noticed is the design of the website. There's no clutter and it's very easy to read.


6. OKCupid's Politics Test – PA: 82. LRD: 456. TL: 1,274.

What is it?

OKCupid, a free online dating site, put together a test on what your political views are based on what your answers are to each question. This is one of many tests featured on OKCupid's site.

Why was it successful?

People like personalized content, such as tests and quizzes. In this case, people like to see how they scored, and they want to compare their score with their friends (thus, they link to it asking others to do it and share their results). There's also a bit of controversy involved with politics (just a bit?), which never hurts in terms of link juice.

7. Yoast's WordPress SEO Guide – PA: 81. LRD: 701. TL: 2,642.

What is it?

This is an extensive guide to implementing SEO on the WordPress CMS created by Joost de Valk.

Why was it successful?

It's the go-to resource because it has the best information on this subject all in one place. It's as simple as that. The information is instructional and easy to understand, and it's helpful in areas that people want to know about. With a resource like this, people will often cite information in it, and with each citation comes yet another link.

8. SEJ's Social Media Infographic – PA: 81. LRD: 282. TL: 876.

What is it?

This is an infographic by Search Engine Journal on the growth of social media. This is a great visualization on the progress social media has made and what lies in the future according to statistical data.

Why was it successful?

In a nutshell, it's visually appealing. Putting such a great amount of raw data into an easy, understandable visualization is something I'd go out of my way to share. It also helps when it's initially displayed to a large audience (SEJ is a fairly popular SEO site if you didn't already know).

I'd also like to point out that although it may not have the sheer number of links some of the other pieces of link bait have, it's the quality of the links that count. This link bait got links from the Huffington Post, Reuters, and The Next Web.

9. WUIW's Water Conservation Tips – PA: 77. LRD: 347. TL: 1,536.

What is it?

This is a list of 112 different ways to conserve water. The tips are very short and provide quick, actionable information.

Why was it successful?

The first reason is because of each item's brevity. This list is quite easy to read and scan because each tip isn't a paragraph, it's a sentence. Another cool thing they did was highlight one specific tip out of every 10 or so. They enlarged the number, added a picture, and bolded the text. This puts emphasis on the specific item highlighted, and it's a great way to segment the list into something readable. Also, the post is listed in the website's navigation bar, making it easy to locate.

10. Thomson's Evolution of Music – PA: 77. LRD: 80. TL: 955.

What is it?

This is a visualization of how music has traveled over the past 200 years. As you play the timeline, new genres pop up around the world and you can see how they've moved and connected throughout the world.

Why was it successful?

Hmm. How wasn't it? If you aren't blown away, I'm sorry, because if this won't impress you, nothing will. The two main reasons it was successful are the quality of the visualization and the social share buttons on the page. Making it easy to share gets the page in front of more eyes, and more eyes means more links.

Yes, the link metrics show that it's not as successful as some of the ones above, but this is only because of how new this piece of content is.



So, what can we conclude about link bait from these 10 examples?

  1. Get influencers involved.
  2. Make it easy to understand.
  3. Give away free stuff.
  4. People love lists.
  5. Choose a highly desired topic.
  6. People like personalized content.
  7. Establish it as the go-to resource.
  8. Make it visually appealing.
  9. Segment large lists to make them readable.
  10. Use social share buttons.


Thanks for reading! Make sure you give this post a thumbs up if you enjoyed it! If you want to find out more about me, check out my link building blog and make sure you follow me on twitter.

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SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

January 9, 2012  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

One Response

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