I Confess, Every Blog Post I’ve Ever Written is Link-Bait

by Marcus Sheridan

As I sat to have dinner with a wonderful group of social media and marketing bloggers at Social Slam last week, we found ourselves discussing, and debating, the subject of “link-baiting.” And as were most of our discussions there in Knoxville, the banter was lively, and it seemed we all had something to say.

linkbait

At one point, Gini Dietrich of the great Spin Sucks blog said that just last week she had been accused of link-baiting, which just goes to show how some folks—the “Internet Police” we’ll call them, have nothing better to do with their time than judge the actions and intentions of others.

But today, instead of disagreeing with all the poo-pooers out there that cry foul with every new “list post,” or “name-drop post,” or “Google post” ever written—I’m going bluntly give my take on the matter by making a confession to all of you, my faithful readers. Here goes:

Every post I’ve ever written is link bait.

There. I said it. You may all hate my guts now and move to the next blog.

But for those of you that would like to continue reading, let’s get real for a minute.

Enough of the Holier-than-thou Crapola

Check out what Wikipedia has to say about link-baiting:

Link bait is any content or feature, within a website, designed specifically to gain attention or encourage others to link to the website. Matt Cutts defines link bait as anything “interesting enough to catch people’s attention.

Now, let me ask you a few questions, and please be honest in answering them:

When you write a blog post, do you hope others will read it? Do you hope they’ll tell their friends and coworkers about it, possibly by sending them a link via email? Do you hope they’ll link to it on their social channels? And do you hope they’ll even possibly link to it on their next blog post?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t blog to talk to myself. I blog (or rather communicate and teach, but we’ll call it blogging because that’s the dumb word it was given long before I knew what the web even was) because I want to help people, many people, through my words. Furthermore, I want to build my brand, my business, and live in financial peace.

Sure, there are a few people out there that would blog whether anyone listened or not, but if I didn’t feel there was anyone listening, nor any other benefits personally or professionally, I wouldn’t be doing this.

But as I mentioned earlier, I truly want and appreciate the support my work gets from others. Not only am I grateful to anyone who actually reads the stuff I write or produce on video, but I also hope they’ll share it….with a link.

Do you really want to know what link bait is?

Link-bait is when you write stuff that other people want to talk about and share. Period.

Maybe it’s a great answer to a question.

Maybe it’s a kind mention of another person, product, or service.

Maybe it’s a thought so provoking that others can’t help but to pass it along.

Maybe it’s something so irrational and stupid that readers can’t help but to share it.

And maybe you think it’s irrational and stupid but the person next to you thinks it’s the best piece of writing since The Fountainhead.

Like everything else in this world, it’s all relative.

Personally, I write about what’s on my mind. Today’s article is a little controversial. Some will like it. Some will hate it.

Others will call it link-bait.

But the last I looked, no one has ever held a gun to your head or mine and forced us to share another person’s work.

Heck, now that I think about it, can we just stop using the dumb word “link-bait”? At the current rate, if every member of the “social media police” had their way there would never be another article ever written on any subject because every single blog post that is published could be attacked as a link-mongering effort of self-adulation and personal advancement.

And to these police, I say blah, blah, blah.

Enough already.

If I want to drop names, that’s my right.

If I want to talk about subjects others feel are “off limits,” then that’s my right.

If I want to answer questions others don’t have the guts to answer, then that’s my right.

If I want to call out companies, brands, and big businesses (and live with the consequences), again, that’s my right.

And do you know what?

It’s yours too.

So go do your thing.

Write that which inspires you.

Follow your promptings.

Listen to your inspiration.

And for the love of Pete, never worry about being accused of “link-baiting” again.

Your Turn

What’s your take on link-bait? Do you agree with my argument that we’re all essentially link-baiters or do you think I’m nuts? And why do so many feel it’s their job to be the “link-bait police”?

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{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Altman April 30, 2012 at

I was fishing with my son on a recent vacation. The resort gave us fake bait. None of the fish were biting. I went to the store and bought some shrimp to use as bait. Next thing you knew, he was catching a fish every ten minutes. The same holds true for blogs. Fake bait rarely gets bit. But, put the real thing out there, and they’ll come biting.

Talk about refreshing honesty. Marcus, you’ve nailed it! When you create meaningful content that stimulates discussion and causes people to link to it and share with their friends, that’s not a bad thing. Just like my son’s fishing experience, the audience can smell the difference between something genuine and something shiny but fake.

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Joe D. April 30, 2012 at

Ian, it’s amazing what live bait does, right? With worms and crayfish on his pole, my son could never keep his line in the water. Fish galore!! With artificial bait, we could be going for hours without a bite. The better the bait, the more attention ;)

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Gini Dietrich April 30, 2012 at

I LOVE THIS ANALOGY!! So much so, I’m stealing it. When I speak, I will give you attribution…unless you’d like to travel with me and tell it yourself?? So good!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Hahahaha…uhhm, yes, I’d like to travel with you…I could carry your shoe bag. ;-)

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Gini Dietrich April 30, 2012 at

You’re hired!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Ian, how are ya brother? Love the analogy btw.

For the most part, bad posts don’t get many links. Good ones do.

It’s not a crazy formula. Sure, it may come in different packages, but good value, and bad value, are what they are…and we should trust that readers can distinguish the two just fine without the need to “police” the content in the first place.

Always a pleasure having you stop by my man,

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer May 2, 2012 at

Awesome, just awesome. W/ Gini and totally stealing this. :-)

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Gregory Ciotti April 30, 2012 at

I personally love it when “non link-bait” posts end up having a bigger impact than posts intended as linkbait.

Take these two posts from KISSmetrics:

1.) http://blog.kissmetrics.com/you-vs-the-data/

2.) http://blog.kissmetrics.com/50-resources-for-getting-the-most-out-of-google-analytics/

One if obvious linkbait (50 resources), and the other is pretty in depth, not something that you’d think would “go viral” or whatever you’d like to phrase it as.

And yet, if you look at each posts popularity, you’ll noticed the non link-bait post was far superior in getting more attention.

You definitely have to mix up giving people what they think they want, and giving them something they never knew they wanted.

I agree with you on the “link-bait” police too, as if creating content has any other purpose than to:

1.) Inform
2.) Get attention for you brand/business

Why would someone stray away from creating something they knew to be link-bait? Because somebody else says they shouldn’t?

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Gregory, how are ya man? Really nice analogy of the two KISS posts. Just goes to show that depth and great value can trump the infamous “list post.”

Have a great week man,

Marcus

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harriet April 30, 2012 at

I swear I did this too. I think everybody does.

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Al Smith April 30, 2012 at

Thanks Marcus. The main reason I write a post or do a video, is to help other people, hopefully make a difference and Inspire and Influence Positive Change. The best way to do all those things is to get them to the site and then they might share with others. We are in business, here. So, the more people I get to our site, the better chance they become a client.
Duh.

There is no trick to what you do. you are a matter of fact kinda guy. “Here is what has worked for me” try it. do it. You are helping others and making a difference.

Take CARE and come see new video tomorrow. Is that link bait-bait ? Ha.

Al

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Link bait it is my friend! ;-)

Looking forward to the video and keep up the great work Al. :-)

Marcus

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Eric Pratum April 30, 2012 at

This probably isn’t me disagreeing with you as much it is framing this slightly differently.

I think a good portion of your posts that I see (so mostly here but a few other places) are more click bait than link bait. I say this because of the strong focus on titles that entice a click. You’re looking for a client to click on your posts within search results, tweets, etc and then fill out a form, call you, or take another action. The success bar for click bait is much much lower than it is for link bait because everyone can be enticed to click, but not everyone has a site from which they can link to you.

Besides, actually creating a link from my site to yours takes quite a bit more effort than just clicking ;)

Regardless, good post. A lot of good points.

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Billy Delaney April 30, 2012 at

Interesting insight Eric.
I agree.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

“Click Bait”….Hmmmm…dang you Eric, you’ve now introduced another phrase to the blogging vernacular that will set back the industry for another 10 years!!!

Nahh, just kidding man…this was actually a very good and legitimate point.

Keep clicking por favor,

Marcus

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Eric Pratum April 30, 2012 at

Ha! Yeah, I think, like the analogy Ian gave above, click bait does not necessarily get you anything other than clicks, but the click is the first step. Then, having a great open sentence, meat to your post, and CTA is what will get you comments, shares, links, etc, and while your titles are almost always click bait, you deliver on the promise of that headline… Unlike some of the examples from publications that I won’t name that Tom gave in his presentation ;)

And, good to see you too, buddy. I’ll see you at BlogWorld.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

And btw, it was truly great seeing you a SoSlam. You’re one of the best in this industry my man. Seriously.

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Rebecca Livermore April 30, 2012 at

I absolutely love this one, Marcus. You know, if it’s not link bait police, it’s the grammar police — you know the people who make a big deal out of whether the comma is inside or outside of the quotation marks. ;-)

Obviously, it’s fine for people to point out areas in which we need to improve, but some people seem to make a hobby out of finding fault with others, and come off as being morally and professionally superior. Those are the ones that I have a hard time with, and I feel they are best ignored.

And you’re right. If we don’t want anyone to read what we write, we should just keep a journal and hide it somewhere, but any of us who want our work read, will indeed write link bait.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Ahhh yes, the grammar police. They’ve arrested me about 3,498 times now over the last 3 years…

But I just blame my high school English professor ;-)

You rock R’,

Marcus

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Bradlee TheDawg May 10, 2012 at

I’m a proud member of the “Grammar Police”. I’m not talking about commas inside or outside the quotes – I’m talking about the utter illiteracy that is ubiquitous on the Internet . Not even among commentors – I’m talking about the drivel that passes for “content” (the most over-used buzzword of 2012, BTW)

If I see any of the following screw-ups in a post about something – I correct them:
Don’t like it ? Tough crap.
you’re /your
they’re/there/their
its/it’s
effect/affect
they’re /there/their
lose/loose
Not capitalizing proper nouns /personal pronouns .. i do this i do that
TYPING IN ALL CAPS (You’re still doing that…. really?)
And so on.

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Adarsh Thampy April 30, 2012 at

Marcus,

Awesome link bait about link bait :)

I don’t really like to use the term much because it sounds somewhat manipulative. Not that link baiting is bad, but the wording sounds a bit on the offensive end.

But again, everyone wants to get links. Who wouldn’t want to? I know I would, and so does most people reading your blog (Unless maybe Sergey Brin, Larry Page or Mark Zuckerberg is reading this blog)

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

That’s why I’d like to eliminate the word from our vernacular Adarsh, as it does sound cheesy and manipulative, when in reality, it’s a very solid marketing strategy. Heck, and blogging “best practice” is link baiting, which is why I had to write this post. Clearly, I do not want to see people throwing content ideas away for fear of silly accusations by the internet police.

Thanks for dropping by Adarsh.

Marcus

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JR Fent April 30, 2012 at

Thank you for coming clean you link baiting bastard! Finally the world can see you for the ‘evil information sharing jerk’ that you really are. Now that I know you’ve been fooling me for all this time – I’m sure that I should quit reading and sharing all the great information that you put out there. You deserved to be openly scorned for your goodwill and methods of getting people to enjoy your blog.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Hahaha JR! Now that is the type of sarcasm that makes a lion smile :-)

Let the scorning and public flogging begin!!!

Marcus

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Pete Goumas April 30, 2012 at

Your blogpost is link bait, Marcus which is interesting to know because we all are in the same boat :)

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Yep, that it is Pete. And so will be the next post, and the one after that, and the one after that,and the…

Have a great week bud,

Marcus

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Matt Mansfield April 30, 2012 at

Right on Marcus and, amen!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

And an “amen” to you amen Matt! ;-)

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Erica Allison April 30, 2012 at

Um…duh. Of course we do! Sometimes, I kick myself because I don’t do it enough! My blog is my primary online sales engine. If I write with esoteric headlines or forget to link up as I should, then I’m missing the boat and just writing to write. Nothing wrong with that if you are not using your blog for business. If you are, however, as I am, then I make sure that every post I write (with the exception of my personal plea on behalf of my brother) is geared towards business.

Heard your presentation at SoSlam was awesome, Marcus! Hate I missed an IRL meeting with you and hearing it first hand.
Take care,
Erica

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Hey Erica! So great to hear from you and I very much appreciate the kind words.

Yeah, we missed you a SS. The number of people there that we all know was crazy..really. And everyone was so kind!! But hopefully we’ll all have a chance to do it again.

Continued success to you Erica :-)

Marcus

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Jay Dolan April 30, 2012 at

I like to create titles that are perfect link bait because I’m a jerk.

But yeah, we’re all link-baiters. We all want to be read.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

You’re a jerk Dolan??

I don’t know man, I’ve met you in person, and there’s a pretty nice guy behind all those tough words of yours ;-)

Marcus

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Joe D. April 30, 2012 at

This is one (of the many) thing that I don’t do enough of. In the end, I do write for myself, but of course I’d like others to read. Adding links is a great way to get this result. If I write a post I think is important and it’s not linked up enough, I have no problem asking other people to share.

The Internet Police are a PITA. Apparently most of them exist solely to be critical of others’ work. Which makes them easy to ignore, in my book. Get ‘em Marcus!

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

“The internet police are a PITA”….Hahahaha, love it Joe D, I can always count on my Philly boy to say it like it is.

Hope you’re well my friend,

Marcus

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Geoff Livingston April 30, 2012 at

OK, now I think you’re on a hot streak. Burn, baby, burn!

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Ryan Hanley April 30, 2012 at

Marcus,

First great stuff… Nothing like Link-Baiting by writing about Link-Baiting… you’re such a jerk I don’t know how they allow you to have a blog!

Second, what is it with people that feel like because they read your blog that somehow they are entitled to pass judgement? And that you’re actually supposed to take notice.

Constructive criticism is one thing, but Hating to Hate is another.

Social Slam looked awesome saw some stuff on Mark Schaefer’s blog about it. I”m sure it was a great time.

Thanks,

Ryan H.

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

Hahahaha Hanley, you always make me laugh with your words man!

Yeah, Social Slam was great. The people there were just flat-out amazing. Which is exactly why you need to get your butt to Blog World NY, ok dude? ;-)

Thanks for all your support man,

Marcus

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Sean King April 30, 2012 at

You say it like it’s a bad thing! In my opinion, I am grateful that all of your posts are linkbait. That means you put the time and effort into each and every post to make it worthwhile for your readers, and it shows! I think everyone should be trying to make every post a linkbait, otherwise why publish mediocre content?

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Marcus Sheridan April 30, 2012 at

That’s the thing Sean. In many parts, “link bait” has a bad connotation, when in reality, I think it’s our goal just about every single time we start slapping the keys.

This is why I just had to write this post. Time to turn the tide a little ;-)

Good seeing you,

Marcus

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Billy Delaney April 30, 2012 at

Hey Marcus.
I was in this conversation, or rather listened to it; and you have valid points indeed. But and then of course there are several things I observed.
1. We aren’t leading lights and don’t care what the online police think. I don’t care!
2. We learn that the audience that reads, do so because they want so.
3. Our stuff isn’t from the echo chamber, and that might be the reason for the angst!

On a personal note:
What a day eh! loved meeting you in person and loved your talk. I will never forget that number you found. I will be looking for my own ASAP!
Billy

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David Frey - MarketingBlogger.com April 30, 2012 at

No, our blogs are not charities (at least mine isn’t). If we wanted to give to charity we would, but we blog for selfish purposes (mainly).

The new SEO is great content.

You write great content -> people share you stuff -> google sees that and thinks you’re cool too -> you rise in the search engines.

Pretty simple.

Marcus, keep link bating me! :-)

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Grady Pruitt April 30, 2012 at

Nice piece of link bait there, Marcus! :D

Don’t we all want more links? Because links bring in traffic and help us with our rankings in the search engines (which also brings in traffic). We should all consider what we’re doing link baiting. Because link baiting is a good thing! :D

I’d much rather link bait than spin ;)

Thanks for sharing, Marcus!

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Michael Stetina April 30, 2012 at

Hi Marcus – Since we’re baring our souls, I must confess that my blog commenting is link bating too! Just look at my suggestive linked blog post title “First Page on Your Next Post”. Does it get any more blatant?

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Gini Dietrich April 30, 2012 at

I like what Eric said about click bait. I also think the conversation we had is an interesting one, for sure. Like I told you at dinner, I got accused of linkbaiting the other day because my headline included “Is Blogging Dead?” Give me a break. Just like you’ve outlined here, I write things to grow my audience. As it turns out, people search “is blogging dead.” So if that means I’m linkbaiting, so be it. As long as you know the vision for your blog and you’re reaching your goals, who cares what anyone else says?

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Ameena Falchetto May 1, 2012 at

Ummm … why is hitting a keyword that people search for considered to be a bad thing? Or making the title of something interesting a crime?

Surely we write things TO BE found, to be read … unless I’ve totally missed this boat!

I think it’s just haters being haters at the end of the day.

Sigh, nod, move on.

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Gini Dietrich May 1, 2012 at

Right? People are so funny. I’m really discovering how funny they are, now that the book is out. I’m kind of floored at how many have asked to receive it for free. It’s $25, people. You’ve been getting blog content for free for four years. And yet…I guess it’s OK for everyone else to make money and drive traffic. But as soon as you do it, you get slammed.

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Marjorie Clayman May 1, 2012 at

OHHHH. That’s a great idea!

Can *I* have your book for free too?!!? :)

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Gini Dietrich May 1, 2012 at

Yes! I’m buying books for everyone!

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Rebecca Livermore May 1, 2012 at

Free books for everyone! Thanks, Gini, for making my day!

Now seriously — on top of people wanting things for free, it is amazing what people sometimes demand of things that are free. For example, flipping out if a replay for a webinar isn’t posted as soon as they think it should be. I seriously don’t get where people are coming from with that type of thing.

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Gini Dietrich May 1, 2012 at

I have a theory about all of this…I’m baking it in my brain right now.

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

The Sales Lion
246 Runners Lane
Heathsville Va. 22473

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

Haters gonna hate ;-)

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Matthew Stock April 30, 2012 at

You are nuts Marcus…insane in the membrane…but not when it comes to link baiting!

Until Google changes their algorithms where their SERPS are not so heavily based on links, I’m gonna keep baiting my hook.

P.S. Finally delved into the world of video blogging. Link is below.

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Chris Johnson April 30, 2012 at

Love this.

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James Pruitt April 30, 2012 at

Link baiting is what Google wants you to do, so tell me, why is it a bad thing? the people complaining against link baiters are also the ones whining right now about Google taking away their rankings for using spam link building methods. Why? because they can’t get natural linking with their crap, so they have to pay for it.

Great post. Keep link baiting, and sharing. we love your posts…. might have to give you a shout out in my next podcast and give your link bait a little more link juice :)

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

James, awesome stuff man and I truly appreciate the kind words.

Keep making it happen my friend. :-)

Marcus

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margie clayman (@margieclayman) April 30, 2012 at

Hi Marcus!

As I said on Twitter, this post made my day.

Back in the end of 2011, I for the second time wrote up a post of my 100 favorite blog posts of the year. This was a labor of love for me – a lot of the posts were just hanging in my brain, or I recalled them as I scanned sites I knew I read a lot. Yes, I linked back to each post because I wanted people to read them and enjoy them.

A couple of different people made remarks about how I was just after link bait or comment bait, and to be honest it really broke my heart. For as long as I’ve been online I’ve believed that one of the best uses for a blog site is to shine the light on other people. I did that when I had less than 50 readers a day, and I still do it now that I’m up to uh…200 :) But these comments and snide remarks really took the joy out of it for me. I figured if people were going to question my motives and accuse me of going after link bait or comment bait, it just wasn’t worth the time and energy.

But you are right. I should be able to write whatever I want to write about. I know my motives, and I think most other people do as well. Thank you for the kick in the pants. Truly.

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

Hey Margie, you dang awesome writer you :-)

It’s stories like yours that motivated me to write this post in the first place. I’m honestly sick and tired of the link bait accusations and people need to quick with the crapola and allow folks to blog whatever they’d like with being motive interpreters.

So you just do your thing and ignore the rest Margie. Besides, your talent is too dang good to bury it due to the insecurities of others.

Smiles,

Marcus

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Bob Reed April 30, 2012 at

Love this, Marcus. It appears that you’re out to take on specific criticisms of social and show how the right approaches to each can neuter the argument against them. Sound like an ebook is in the making: “Slaying Social Sacred Cows”. I know I’d read it.

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

Dang brother. Now that’s one heck of a title. Looks like I’m going to be owing you some commissions here soon,. ;-)

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Bob Reed May 2, 2012 at

Paying it forward, my friend.

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Danny Brown April 30, 2012 at

Perhaps it’s the semantics between “link bait” and “traffic generation”, mate, and the term “bait” itself (usually a precursor to being dead or harmed, and who wants that?).

Consider these two titles:

“The Difference You and Authors” – pretty safe, offers a little idea about the post.
“Seth Godin is An Average Blogger”

The latter is from a post you shared on Twitter, and then the author got miffed as I called it as link bait.

See, the way I look at it is this – it’s the difference between a great, SEO-friendly title (Why Successful Authors are Successful Bloggers and Why You’re Not) versus using a name directly in the title and link.

That, to me, is bait. Using a less provocative title, and then using the subject’s name in the post, is far more attractive than calling out in the title. And that’s the difference between bait and generation.

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

Interesting thoughts indeed DB. But here is my thing. As a reader, I’m naturally more inclined to click “open” to that particular blog post if the title has the name. Now granted, if the title is just a bait and switch, then that person is going to lose my respect and they’ll be the boy that cried wolf with their next snappy title. But if the content is truly quality, and the topic is clearly based on a person, company, etc.— then I’ve always felt it was necessary to put the name in the title.

But like everything else on the web, I could have a completely different opinion in 12 months ;-)

Best to you mate,

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer May 2, 2012 at

Hmmm.. IDK Danny. I was thinking the same .. but I also read that post. And not sure I would have otherwise had the name NOT been in there, and included in the story in a way I found valid. (TEHO) Someone else mentioned the ‘bait and switch’ – using the name, then not bringing it back in the post – that’s not cool. I’m very reluctant to use names in headlines, even careful about how I do so in posts. I think there’s a difference between using someone as an example, and calling them out by name for the sole purpose of sparking controversy (and therefore clicks, tweets, links). FWIW.

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Shayna April 30, 2012 at

I agree. Every post I write is definitely aiming to add value and be seen and shared by others – why would I even post if I had nothing of value to add for my readers? However, there are always some that just seem to take off. I had a hunch that this one would be big, and I was right: 15 common grammar mistakes in spoken English

My only pet peeve with link-bait-ish post titles is when the quality of the post doesn’t live up to the intrigue of the title. So they get me to click, but they don’t get me to share.

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

15 grammar mistakes….hmmm….I’m sure I’ve made 16 of them Shayna! ;-)

thanks so much for dropping by!

Marcus

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Jens P. Berget May 1, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

You’ve nailed it. I absolutely agree. Link-bait is about adding value that people are sharing. But the problem is when someone just adds link-bait as part of their headline, and doesn’t follow through on the content. I’ve seen that many times, and it ain’t pretty :)

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

You’re right Jens, it ain’t pretty, but I think that just makes them end up looking stupid, and hurts their overall image…The value has to be there or all the funky titles in the world will eventually appear dull.

Great stuff bud,

Marcus

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Laura Click May 1, 2012 at

We ALL want traffic. We ALL want to grow our community. And, if that means writing compelling headlines that make you come and take a look, then we’re all guilty as charged!

I don’t think that link baiting (or whatever people want to call it) is the issue. I think it’s more about the bait and switch. I think sometimes people write outlandish headlines just to get people to the post and then it fails to deliver the promise of the headline. But, as I think you said to someone else here, those posts rarely spread and get attention anyway (unless it’s to accuse people of the aforementioned link baiting).

Carry on, my friend! So great to see you at Social Slam! :)

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Marcus Sheridan May 2, 2012 at

Hey Laura, great to see you…again. :-)

I agree that bait and switch isn’t the best practice, but here is the thing– If someone uses bait and switch, and then underdeliver, aren’t they just shooting themselves in the foot? Aren’t they just alienating their audience?

So to me, if they bait and switch, it all just blows up in their face anyway, so they got what they deserved…

Make sense? (Of course, I could just be crazy too ;-) )

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Laura Click May 6, 2012 at

Totally makes sense. And you’re right – hype-filled headlines without the content to back it up definitely doesn’t work. I think plenty of people still do it though… unfortunately.

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Sarah Kolb May 1, 2012 at

This is an excellent point (and I so wish I could have attended Social Slam!). There is definitely a difference between spam and link-baiting. If the poo-poo-ers have a problem with someone providing excellent information and hoping that someone takes the time to visit their website, what’s next? Should we remove contact information from our blogs? Post anonymously? Share information out of the goodness of our hearts, but take no steps to encourage sharing of that information? That’s not only silly, it’s likely to shrink readership and kill a blog.

Good for you for sharing your valuable information with us, and I’m happy to say that I have followed your links in the past and found them just as valuable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Marcus Sheridan May 1, 2012 at

Hahaha, great analogies there Sarah—yes, let’s just all post anonymously here forward and play “who wrote it??” ;-)

Appreciate the great comment and kind words,

Marcus

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Joseph Mills May 2, 2012 at

Nice bait huh?!!! hahahahahhhahahah!!! no wonder you have lots of traffic in your site. And i think i was captivated by your bait. :)

Cheers!!!

Avatar

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

Hahaha, love it Joseph, and thanks so much for being baited in and stopping by ;-)

Have a great Friday,

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer May 2, 2012 at

Stopping the comment bombs – and could have been more. BTW Great seeing you again :-)

Ian and Eric nailed it. We want our stuff shared, use the right bait. And getting clicks is so not the same thing as getting linkbacks. Danny’s semantics are right, and I still can’t quite decide on the ‘big name’ — as I’ve read a few good posts and tons of bad ones that were very ‘linkbaity’ to me, esp. when it felt like smaller bloggers trading on the status of others for ‘ratings.’

We right in order to be read. And shared. An SEO-friendly headline is smart blogging. A keyword rich headline is a good idea. An eye-grabbing, debate worthy question isn’t link or click (and I’ll toss in ‘RT’) bait — not if the post lives up to it. Like others have said, THAT is when I feel betrayed, when a really great headline misleads me into reading a ho-hum or worse, off-topic post.

You say, won’t they get what they deserve? Maybe. But if they get away with it – get the clicks, links, RTs they wanted – sets a bad example for others to copy. IDK Like you said, it’s all relative and some will find this whole debate kinda pointless. Guess I’m with you in the TEHO section: if you’re comfortable with it, can do it well – and live with the consequences – by all means, use whatever bait works for you. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

Davina, you know I love it when you stop by and muse like only you can, so thanks for adding your thoughts here. And again, thanks for the big hug at Social Slam. #urAwesome!

Marcus

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Ken Stadden May 2, 2012 at

Marcus,

Marcus,

Just read your post on link baiting and all 72 comments before this one. Then I decided to Google up “link bait” and see what came up. You know what? The term “link bait” is link bait!

But as others have observed, the pejorative element of “bait” seems to be missing in the Wikipedia definition– in other words, creating “link bait” is nothing to be ashamed of.

The “link bait” search led me to what looks like a pretty awesomely comprehensive piece on the topic: http://www.distilled.net/linkbait-guide/. Thought I’d share it with the crowd here. It includes a PDF workbook that could be useful, too.

As always, thanks for starting a conversation that was worth reading and took up a chunk of my morning!

Ken

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

Ken, love your energy and thoughts here, and thanks for the link as well.

Keep smiling my man :-)

Marcus

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Serges LaRiviere May 2, 2012 at

OK, I’m new to this whole thing so your getting someones opinion that has never heard of Link-Baiting or of the Internet Police.
It’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of, period. I just started blogging and of course I want people to read and link to me, in fact that is the only reason I’m doing it so I can hopefully increase my business.
Who the heck has the time to play Internet Police? Live and let live is my motto.
Serges

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

Well consider yourself forewarned Serges ;-) Live and let live it is!

Best to you and your new blog,

Marcus

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John Unruh May 2, 2012 at

I think it is pretty simple. Write what you want people to read. If they link to it, great. If the click on it, and then convert, great. If someone complains that you are “link baiting”, oh well. As Feynman said, “What do you care what other people think?”.

By the way, if what you write is bad, you won’t get links. If it is spammy, you won’t get links. If it is good and interesting, you might get links.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

Perfect perspective John, my thoughts exactly!

Thanks so much for dropping by,

Marcus

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Vernessa Taylor May 2, 2012 at

H Marcus,

The whole idea of the internet was “to link” and “to click.” Hence the development of “a href=”
… If you found a good resource, create a link. If the resource you encountered as you read an article or a static web page had a link — and the resource was of interest to you — click!

Until I encountered the “blogosphere” I never came across so much debate about “link-baiting” and the like. The closest I’ve ever come to a debate about it was a series of articles trying to determine whether “linking” was a violation of copyright. (I don’t remember where or I’d “link” to it.) That was in the early days of internet-dom, when mostly businesses and academics were using the ‘net on a regular basis.

Good job highlighting this, Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

Vernessa, great to hear from you. Yes, it’s an odd place sometimes, this thing we call the blogosphere, and the supposed “rules” of engagement we have being tossed around day in and day out.

But yes, we started this whole online thing to spread the word, so let’s keep that in mind as we go forward.

Awesome perspective Vernessa,

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno May 3, 2012 at

Well, at least you’re honest with your linkbaiting efforts. :D

I don’t like those posts with tens of links to higher ranking blogs done for the sake of trackbacks, I do like those useful made by great bloggers to share knowledge about unknown ones. Being able to recognize both it’s not such a big problem.

You know, it’s like affiliate links, one thing is having a report focused on pushing affiliate links, another one is having a good report and adding an affiliate link. Time and experience and everyone is able to see the difference and act accordingly. ;)

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Marcus Sheridan May 4, 2012 at

That’s the thing Andrea– it always comes out in the wash. If the value isn’t there, it doesn’t really matter if there were blatant link bait attempts or not, as people will move on and not come back. I just think we all have to be really careful interpreting the sincere, or not so sincere, intentions of others when they write.

As always, thanks so much for dropping by bud.

Marcus

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Reese May 3, 2012 at

What’s in a name? At the end of the day, it’s not how we call it that matters, it’s the means to attain one’s goal that counts. In other words, it’s how you did the link baiting that sets us apart from others.

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Raheel Farooq May 4, 2012 at

I don’t confess, because I don’t agree, because I do much blogging! ;)
By the way, I must confess the article is very interesting!

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inez May 7, 2012 at

Guilty as charged! Haha

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Tom Ewer May 7, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

I’m with you on this, big time. Whether something is “link bait” (however you define it) or not is irrelevant to the reader. What is relevant is whether or not the content is useful.

A few months back I produced a list of 100 blogs in my niche called the Leaving Work Behind 100. Relative to the size of my blog, it was insanely successful, with thousands upon thousands of visits and nearly 1,000 retweets. No one accused me of link baiting (which surprised me, to be honest). Perhaps that was because I put an enormous amount of time and effort into curating the list – it was something of true value (at least, I’d like to think so).

In a week or two’s time, I’m going to producing the second edition of that list. Some blogs will have dropped out, there are going to be plenty of new inclusions – I think it will be an improvement on the first list. But I am already expecting to be accused of link baiting. Whatever. It will be good for my blog (I hope), and I think it will be helpful for many of my readers (not to mention the bloggers who get the referral traffic).

Cheers!

Tom

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Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at

I remember that list Tom. It was incredibly impressive and you deserved every link, share, and mention it got. Something that takes hours and hours to formulate deserves everything it gets in my opinion.

Keep rocking brother. :)

Marcus

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Ozio Media May 7, 2012 at

The object of a blog is to attract traffic and the most effective ways to do that are by creating links that point to it. This generates traffic and good SEO so it is going with the flow of the internet. Purposely not link baiting is working against the natural intention of the web, sharing information. Valuable information is the best link bait.

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Christa Herzog May 10, 2012 at

The object of a blog is to attract traffic and the most effective ways to do that are by creating links that point to it.Purposely not link baiting is working against the natural intention of the web, sharing information. Valuable information is the best link bait.

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deco May 11, 2012 at

What AN AMAZING article looking nice & attractive.I LOVE YOUR STYLE OF WRITING.I was desperately searching for link baiting service, my eyes stopped to you link, the contents you have provided is really worthy.

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Jeff Irving May 29, 2012 at

I’m pretty new to your stuff (been reading your e-book) and I’ve got to say, I appreciate your “link-baiting”. That’s a ridiculous name for it by the way. I can’t think of a clever, more appropriate name off of the top of my head, so I’ll leave it at that.

If a link takes me to a page where you’ve elaborated on a topic that I’m interested in learning more about and I KNOW that’s what I’m clicking on, then I really appreciate it. Besides, if someone doesn’t care for the way a blog post is written with links included in this way, then read something or someone else. It’s like the guy who complains about reality TV (sadly this has been me once or twice)…turn the channel guy (I got rid of cable).

Besides, the energy it takes to climb up high onto a pedestal with your fake web cop badge and reprimand someone could be used for much more productive endeavors.

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Wade Balsdon June 6, 2012 at

Glad to see someone call it as it is. We all write and comment on blogs to get links, so yes Marcus I agree with you.

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I absolutely love this one, Marcus. You know, if it’s not link bait police, it’s the grammar police — you know the people who make a big deal out of whether the comma is inside or outside of the quotation marks.

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Marcus Sheridan June 15, 2012 at

Yep, gotta love ‘em. ;-)

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Ann Fantom August 9, 2012 at

We are on the same boat Marcus. So we are likely guilty. HEHEHE

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