Boost your link-building efforts by integrating the following five link bait examples from famous companies like Cisco into your content marketing strategy.
Driving links to your website is still, and may always be, the core of a successful SEO strategy. According to a Moz study, there is a direct correlation between more links and higher rankings.
What matters to Google when ranking a website is always evolving, but a variety of numerous, quality links from authoritative sources is always one of the primary factors as to why a site ranks or not.
Producing one-of-a-kind link bait encourages others to link to your content due to its usefulness and as a result, increases your brand’s search profile.
To create link bait that drives hundreds and even thousands of links to your website, continually review the link bait other companies create for inspiration.
Here are five unique examples of high-performing link bait and what the companies did right to develop and promote these resources widely to attract more links.
Number of backlinks according to Ahrefs: 5,360
The most well-known way of creating link bait is covering a topic in-depth with your content. Giving readers a complete understanding of a subject can help position it as the leading resource on the topic as most articles and other forms of content are brief and don’t dive deep.
Cisco produced this white paper to provide in-depth coverage on the impact of visual networking applications, which is a very specific, niche topic for a segment of their audience. The white paper is provided in HTML and PDF format and clocks in at over 5,000 words and also includes charts and visuals.
The white paper provides original data and research which makes it more valuable to readers and more likely to be linked to by other industry websites as the information can only be found here.
The statistics included within the resource are highly shareable figures both on social media and blogs as they provide context for what’s happening in the tech industry as a whole. It’s likely that once this white paper was published, Cisco’s marketing team pitched it to a variety of blogs and publications in the tech vertical to cover it.
To develop your own in-depth resources, identify a subject area of interest to your audience that is also related to your expertise to explain in detail. By being comprehensive in your coverage of a subject, it’ll be more likely that at least a part of the content is new to most readers.
When a person learns something of value from the content you’re sharing, they slowly start to develop trust and rapport with your organization. Including new information within your content also increases the likelihood that other websites will link to it as well.
Number of backlinks according to Ahrefs: 2,241
One of the most popular and effective forms of link bait is creating a resource that explains a core concept related to your expertise or industry.
This article or resource page can describe a simple, straight-forward concept or a topic that is very complex, but what is most important is that it’s a subject of interest to a wider audience you’re trying to reach and that is being regularly searched for.
HubSpot’s page What Is Inbound Marketing? is an example of link bait that answers a common question for both marketers and business owners that may be conducting research about this particular marketing discipline.
The page clearly explains the subject succinctly with both text and visuals, broken up into different sections to make it easier for a reader to scroll through and learn about the subject of inbound marketing.
Explaining a concept that is widely discussed makes it a useful resource to link to elsewhere as it provides the definition of a subject in a comprehensive, but concise manner.
Most often called a “What is” page or article, this type of link bait can also bring clarity to confusing topics, especially when readers feel too embarrassed to ask someone in real life.
To mirror HubSpot’s success with link bait, research the topics that relate to your company’s expertise and focus, but are also subject areas your target audience is interested in.
For HubSpot, ‘inbound marketing’ was a natural choice as that’s the type of marketing their software helps businesses with. In your case, consider creating a few explainers that define concepts related to your expertise, products, services and industry at large.
Adding explainers to your blog or website is an effective way to generate links over time, but should only be used as one part of your greater mix of link-bait techniques.
In addition to being widely shared on social media, it’s likely this page was linked to internally across HubSpot’s website with natural mentions on relevant pages and blog posts to disperse the SEO value and drive additional traffic.
Number of backlinks according to Ahrefs: 3,953
Instead of an article or page of text and visuals on your website, create a tool that provides tangible value to your audience worth sharing with their network.
Sherwin-Williams, the paint company, created link bait in the form of a paint visualizer which allows visitors to test over a thousand paint colors on photos of the rooms they’d like to paint.
By uploading images of their house, customers can add different colors to the walls to get a stronger understanding of what each color might look like in their bedroom, bathroom, or elsewhere.
The tool gives Sherwin-Williams customers the ability to see how the company’s products might work in their homes before visiting the store or purchasing any paint.
One of the reasons this paint color testing tool works to build links for Sherwin-Williams is that it provides value to anyone that uses, regardless if they become a customer of the brand or not.
Anyone looking to paint their home can find a use for the tool to improve their experience choosing the right colors, which is what makes it an effective way to attract links.
To drive results from your link bait, develop a chart, calculator, or another type of tool that adds value to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Think about what information visitors are looking for on your website, what experiences they are having, and what your company can offer as a free, customized solution to encourage them to spend more time on your website.
This link bait should be free to access, easy to use, and provide customized results to your audience to personalize the information they receive from using the tool.
One of the ways Sherwin-Williams may have promoted this resource is pitching the tool and its value to DIY and interior design blogs to generate additional links and coverage.
After developing a tool that improves the experience of your audience, create a list of relevant blogs in your industry and pitch them on the value of your tool to increase exposure.
Number of backlinks according to Ahrefs: 6,482
With more content being created than ever before and attention spans remaining low, a circumstance known as content shock, it is difficult to create content that actually reaches your audience today.
One way to stand out among the noise and create worthwhile link bait is by including original research, data, reporting, or media in an article or page on your website.
Adding original information to your content makes the resource unique since it can’t be found elsewhere, especially when it’s of relevance to your customer base.
Makeup brand Glossier created an article on their blog called What Beauty Products To Use When You’re Expecting and it became a widely linked to resource by hundreds of blogs.
The article is under a thousand words and very conversational as the author is describing their own experiences as a pregnant mother trying to find safe makeup products to use during pregnancy. The piece is easy to read and provides numerous recommendations of makeup brands designed for pregnant mothers.
This worked for link building because the author curated a variety of makeup options for a pregnant mother, who likely hasn’t encountered such a well-researched resource on the subject before.
The simplicity of this example helps illustrate that link bait doesn’t always come in the form of an extensive 3,000-word article, but something concise, useful, and unique.
To find your own success with link bait like this, conduct research around what hasn’t been covered before in terms of topics of interest to your audience.
Think about what angles haven’t been explored, what research or data is missing from existing articles on the subject, and what additional elements can be curated from other resources to develop a topic further.
There were already many articles on advice for pregnant mothers in terms of what to eat, what exercises to do, and more, but Glossier identified a gap in coverage around recent makeup recommendations for pregnant mothers.
When you’ve got a topic in mind to create content around, review what resources already exist on the subject and how they can be improved or expanded upon. This is referred to as the skyscraper technique coined by link-building expert Brian Dean.
The process basically entails finding content around a subject of interest to your audience that is heavily linked to (which shows people are interested in it), then add to the resource with original information to make it better, and then reach out to relevant bloggers and websites about the content you’ve created.
Follow in their footsteps by including original information created by or curated by your company to encourage more links.
Number of backlinks according to Ahrefs: 573
According to Moz, the New York Time’s most emailed articles are the ones that drive anger or anxiety from readers because they are controversial subjects.
Controversial topics drive conversation online and therefore, tend to generate lots of links due to the coverage touchy subjects tend to get. You don’t want to be controversial about any subject, but choose one that relates to your company’s expertise.
For example, Abodo is an apartment-listing company that gathered original data on the most politically correct and the most prejudiced places to live based on the number of tweets shared expressing either stance.
Abodo curated this information from Twitter and created an article with a variety of visuals to make the data easy to consume and share with others. They included links to various apartment listings in different cities at the bottom of the piece to tie in their service offerings.
As a result of covering a controversial subject with content, they received coverage (and high authority links) from CNET, Fusion, Slate, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, Mic, The Daily Beast, Adweek, and hundreds of other websites, in addition to 67,000 social shares.
Another element that worked with their link bait is the fact that they ranked each city based on the data they collected, which drove more people to express joy, surprise, or anger about where their city landed in the rankings.
Discussing specific cities and states helped personalize the content for people reading the piece, which led to more discussions about it online.
Timeliness is also an important factor to consider when creating controversial link bait, or any type of link bait, as it’ll be more likely to resonate since it’s a current issue on your audience’s mind.
To prevent reputation-damaging backlash due to your coverage of a controversial subject, plan strategically how your company will cover it, as well as the position itself when discussing the topic.
Which lessons learned from these examples of link bait will benefit your company the most? What types of content drive lots of links for your organization? Share your experiences with link building with us over on Twitter @DigitalCurrent.