3 Link Bait Lessons From a Master Baiter

Yesterday’s off-topic post of 250 movies made it to the digg / popular page and is right now climbing on the delicious / popular page (and more delicos would be nice – Hint. Hint.)

But was it REALLY off topic?

Today’s post will focus on why that post was successful and give you 3 helpful lessons to write better link bait.

The real story started something like this:

From the land of off topic posts, I present to you a list of the 250 Best Movies Made in the Last 30 years.

Why the last 30 years?

Well I’m creeping up on 30. Since I’ll be returning to the States in December for a few weeks, I want to get a 500 Gig Hard Disk full of movies I enjoy for my return trip to Brazil. One of the things I miss about being down here is not having access to movies.

So I started researching which films I’ve enjoyed and every time I see these “Best Film Lists” they always include the same stuff from the 40s, 50s, 60s and early to mid 70s.

My younger brother owes me about $1500 and he agreed to try to round up and rip all the movies on the list to work off some of what he owes me. I just put in the order for the 500 GB external hard drive and a new Mac Book Pro. Plus, I’m sure if I post a list like this I’ll get some great feed back on the movies I missed.

I took a look at the post as written and realized it was shit. Why should you (my readers) give a rats ass about me? The focus needed to change from ME to YOU for you to be interested. That’s when the idea for the first Hook came in:

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a 500 Gig Hard Drive full of all the best movies ever made?

By changing the focus from ME and my life to YOU and your life the post becomes 100 fold more engaging. Suddenly, we’re working on hooking you up and fulfilling your dream, rather than blabbing on and on about my life.

Link Bait Lesson 1: Good link bait focuses on the Reader not the Author.

Now, if you recall from the ten ways to make the front page of digg:

9. Insult as many groups as you can. Flamewars are popular for a reason. Throw out bombs that dare people to comment on your story.

I didn’t have to just omit the classics – I had to shit on them! That way, someone is bound to get pissed off and throw out flames. I had to say that MY list was the best and that if you like old movies, you suck. So the intro evolved to:

Who wants to see that old crap?

Link Bait Lesson 2: Controversy will incite passion. Passion drives links.

Then to pepper things up, I remembered that everyone hates the RIAA. Since the post was not likely to get many DVD sales if it didn’t get links, Dugg, or Delicoed anyway, the best rout was to not bother with those Amazon links (less work, less spammy) and say the reason was so that we can stick it to the RIAA!

but I’d rather you go download or Rent & Rip them just to piss off the RIAA

Manipulative? Sure a little. But that’s what link bait is. You have to think of these things so your stories have hooks to draw people in.

Link Bait Lesson 3: If you can pile on to a quasi-political cause that has widespread acceptance, it will drive support and fanfare.

But Quads – who is the master baiter?

I am. Master Baiting is what I was born to do. ;)

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17 Responses to “3 Link Bait Lessons From a Master Baiter”

  1. engtech says:

    I have to say 100% agreement. Around a week or so ago I got a post on Slashdot that I wrote with 0% research, just an opinion rant with lots of inaccuracies that was easily refuted and took a position in an existing flamewar. The post took off like hot cakes, but once I updated it so that it was less biased to one side it really started slowing down.

    Pick a side and piss people off. You need a split of people who love it and people who hate it, if everyone “likes” it then it won’t go anywhere.

  2. scottj says:

    So, just a quick question: How many people are in your “baiting friends” network? How many diggs did you need to seed this with before it started to blow up?

  3. Andrew Johnson says:

    Congrats engtech, now you just need to start up an advocacy group and you are on your way to six figures a year (or an additional six)

  4. [...] 3 Link Bait Lessons From a Master Baiter The truth hurts. People are easily manipulated. I still have no clue how that list got 2 diggs, let alone over 400. (tags: digg socialengineering seo linkbait) [...]

  5. [...] This particular post on SEO Blackhat was interesting enough for me to pass it on to anyone interested. It’s a good example of the use of linkbaiting, a method by which you encourage people to link to your site or post. [...]

  6. rxbbx says:

    “Baiting is what I was born to do” :) Good article Quad..

  7. [...] Aaron Wall posts “Trusted vs Untrusted Links” and follows up with another “vs” post, “Tactical SEO vs Strategic SEO“, which is excellent, but has more to do with SEO for sites/blogs whose business model is ad revenue than advice most business web sites can take advantage of. Great advice all the same though. “3 Link Bait Lessons from a Master Link Baiter” SEO Black Hat. [...]

  8. [...] 3 lessons with a Master Baiter. Pun intended by QuadsZilla, I hope. [...]

  9. engtech says:

    Seth Godin is hitting this same subject from the other side: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/10/the_manipulator.html

  10. Dudibob says:

    awesome post Quad, funny and informative :)

  11. [...] The self proclaimed master baiter reveals how he got his article on to the front page of digg, the popular social bookmarker.  [...]

  12. muddy says:

    Great point on step 1. Steps 2 and 3 are kinda like being a forum troll. No offense, just kinda similar technique.

  13. QuadsZilla says:

    I would agree that their are certain elements of link bait that are in common with trolling. No offense taken :)

  14. [...] A few of my favorite bloggers responded, some with mixed emotions and others with outright negativism. I can’t say I’ve seen a post in support of what Matt at 37signals said (so I’ll applaud him for his link baiting efforts most notably defined by Lesson 2: “Controversy will incite passion. Passion drives links.”) [...]

  15. [...] SEO Black Hat havde for nogle dage siden et virkelig godt indlæg om linkbait og nogle af de ting man skal huske på, når man skaber denne linkbait – eller link-madding. Eksemplerne var illustreret af hans ønske om at få lavet sig en stor 500GB had disc fyldt medverdens bedste film genem de sidste 30 år. Sådan en vil jeg da også have, tænkte jeg. Med mit nye Media Center ville det jo være et skønt arkiv. Lovlige film, naturligvis – egne backup kopier [...]

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